Inviting tent interiors

Use interior design concepts to create intimacy in big spaces.

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Wide open spaces in tents offer extensive opportunities for expressing your creativity. But for many party planners, the qualities that make tents appealing can also create significant challenges. The event area may seem overwhelming and lacking in warmth. Yet, it’s absolutely possible to create an intimate setting within a large open space by incorporating a few residential interior design concepts. Just as if you were designing a home, when designing a party in a tent you must carefully consider space planning, purpose, sound, scale and ambiance. Not to mention drama!

Plan it out. Space planning is key. Knowing what elements you have to include is vital. The first step toward making a tent feel like an inviting space is to establish the various areas needed, such as a stage, dance floor, bars, food stations and dining area. Make sure to communicate with all party professionals that will require space, such as the orchestra, the caterer, and so on.

Put it on paper. A well-designed floor plan will help you understand how guests will experience the event, one step or space at a time. Once you know what you need, put it on paper in a floor plan that all vendors can refer to in their installation.

Break it up. Breaking up the event space into dedicated “rooms” brings focus to each segment of the celebration. For example, the bar area is one “room” that may also have high top cocktail tables with barstools as well as sofas and coffee tables that create a living-room feel.

Furnish it. Incorporating furniture into the rooms in closely placed groupings gives the space a residential ambiance. Just remember that the size of the furnishings should match the volume of the space. Soaring ceilings can make furniture look tiny.

Throw light on it. Theatrical lighting can soften seating arrangements, creating focus and romance by highlighting small areas and dimming empty spaces around them. Ambient light in residential fixtures can also bring the energy down from the ceiling.

Make it cozy. Just because you have space to play with doesn’t mean everything has to be far apart. A great energy will spread among closely placed tables, as if the celebration is in the host’s dining room. (Be sure to keep local fire codes and appropriately spaced aisles for servers in mind.) Same goes for food stations. Instead of placing them against a wall, float them in the middle of a defined area and surround them with lounge furniture to give guests a place to perch while they enjoy a bite.

Complete the picture. When choosing furniture, think about how guests will use it. To create an area for conversation, be sure to include enough pieces so that guests can face each other. Nothing’s worse that having a sofa floating alone on the side a room.

Remember the details. A space filled with large pieces needs balance. Add accessories such as throw pillows, rugs, lamps and console and side tables to define the mood. You want guests to notice the small details in each space, then walk away understanding the big message loud and clear.

Don’t let a grand space intimidate you. Decorating a completely open floor plan has its challenges, but with a few simple design principles as a guide, you can turn your tent into an inviting, intimate party space.

Melissa Paul is owner of Melissa Paul Ltd. Paul is a brand storyteller for the luxury wedding industry.

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