Ask the Expert: Marilyn Incerty, GMM/Vice President Merchandising & Design, Cost Plus World Market

Marilyn Incerty answers your questions about decorating

Expert: Marilyn Incerty
Marilyn Incerty joined Cost Plus World Market in 2007 and is currently the GMM/Vice President of Merchandising & Design for the San Francisco Bay Area-based specialty retailer. Marilyn oversees the merchandise and trend teams in developing, sourcing, and producing unique, authentic and affordable home furniture, home décor, textiles, jewelry, accessories, and seasonal products for the consumer.

Q:  I love to change out tabletop accessories to match the seasons or holidays. What are some staple pieces I can invest in that accent a variety of seasonal décor, to make the transitions less of a hassle?
A:  One great staple is a glass cloche or bell jar on top of a plate, tray or cake stand. Traditionally, these were used to protect delicate plantings, but they’re versatile and can be used as display or a serving piece. I like to change out the items within the cloche to match the season or occasion. Cluster three together and it makes a beautiful centerpiece on a dining table. Right now, I have one with a glass bird sitting in a nest with twigs and moss. I’ve even used it as a cheese plate or to make a dramatic dessert presentation. And, the best part, they’re inexpensive but can make such an impact on a table.

Another option is tabletop textiles, like a runner, that can be used year-round and dressed up or down depending on the place settings and décor items are an affordable way to refresh for each season or holiday.

Q: My new apartment has horrible overhead lighting. What are some ways to lighten up rooms without placing a lamp at every corner?
A:  A large arc floor lamp paired with a natural burlap shade can be positioned in a corner or behind a piece of furniture while providing lighting exactly where you need it.

Also, if you’re able to safely remove the overhead lighting piece and replace it with another light fixture that can give off more light, like a triple arm pendant lamp, that is an easy and affordable fix. Some pendant lamps are like art pieces on their own and when they’re clustered together and suspended from the ceiling it makes such a visual impact (as well as providing much-needed light). This style and chandeliers don’t have to be limited to the dining room.

A mix of tabletop and accent lamps with 3-way bulbs can be used for ambient or task lighting.

Q: What’s an affordable way to change the look in my living room?
A:  Changing your curtain panels or window coverings is one of my personal favorites. There are so many options when it comes to style, color, pattern or fabric. I like to change with the season to refresh my living room. In the fall or winter, I’ve used solid velvet to add a layer of texture and warmth to the room and in the spring I’ve used paler colored sheer panels to allow more natural light into the room. Curtain panels are a great option for the renter who can’t paint their walls.