We asked Marilyn Incerty, GMM/Vice President Merchandising & Design and chief trend spotter at Cost Plus World Market, for her expert advice on your decorating challenges.
Ask the Expert: Marilyn Incerty on Decorating

We asked Marilyn Incerty, GMM/Vice President Merchandising & Design and chief trend spotter at Cost Plus World Market, for her expert advice on your decorating challenges.

This year, I want to make my deck way more personal and comfortable for entertaining. I’ve got nice outdoor furniture, but I don’t know how to punch it up. Where do I start? -Angela M., San Ramon, CA

Since you already have the large foundational pieces, you can go straight to accessories. Start with an outdoor rug, which can help define your space, whether it be a living or dining area (or both). If you’re looking for shade or some overhead coverage, an outdoor umbrella would be the next item on your list.

Pillowscaping outdoor toss pillows in a variety of colors, patterns and prints adds fun to the living area. By mixing and matching your favorite colors and patterns, you’ll create a uniquely personalized comfortable space. Small occasional accent tables with decorative pieces can add another level of interest when entertaining outdoors. I love string lights, Indian lanterns and hurricane candle holders are a way to add light and warmth to the space. If you’ll be making this outdoor space an extra outdoor “living room” or “dining room,” don’t forget the tabletop pieces, serving trays and perhaps wood cooler for beverages.

My kitchen is pretty small so I don’t have a lot of room for specialty items, but I still like to entertain quite a bit. Can you recommend some great serving pieces and a couple different ways to use them? -Joanna Linberg, Sunset home editor

I love oversized pieces like bowls and trays that are pretty enough to be on display and are multifunctional like our Marie stoneware serving bowl or our bold melamine platters. When you’re not entertaining guests, they can hold fruit and vegetables and then when you have guests, they can easily be used as a serving piece. Also, our cloches with bark wood pedestals and chargers can be used to display decorative pieces or small collectible items and then can be used as a cheese platter for guests.

We just refinished our hardwood floors (yay!) and now I’m on the hunt for durable, easy-to-clean rugs for our entry and family room. Are there any certain materials I should look for? -Anthony L., Boulder, CO

For a great kid/pet-friendly rug, an indoor/outdoor rug made of polypropylene is a sure bet. They’re affordable and easy to clean – just hose them off and you’re good to go! There’s now a wide selection of tufted pile polypropylene rugs in a variety of colors and patterns that look and feel good underfoot.

Another option is a wool rug. The natural oils in wool, which give wool rugs a soft feel also provides stain repellant properties. Wool rugs are durable and can sustain daily wear and tear while still maintaining a beautiful, rich texture.

Personally, my favorite is our cowhide rugs, which are both affordable and extremely soft underfoot and easy to clean. They come in a range of colors and patterns, which makes them a unique find for the home.

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.

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