For Florida events, nature beckons with promises of cocktails by the sea and dancing under live oaks. Good weather permitting, gathering alfresco is celebrating at its finest. But the typical outdoor decor can feel limiting. Event designers are turning to indoor furnishings to cultivate distinct and personalized open-air settings to take things up a notch. “It’s that juxtaposition between what’s traditional and what’s unexpected,” event planner Anna Lucia Richardson says.
We can thank Sofia Richie and other starlets’ castle weddings for the uptick in taking indoor furniture out for parties. “In Florida, everything we have is new,” Naples-based Carrie Darling says. “We have beautiful lawns with trees, which is great, but this is a way of adding so much more aesthetically into the space.” It’s not uncommon to find plush sofas and loveseats, velvet pillows, area rugs and coffee tables at Carrie’s events. And her husband, Matt, often builds elaborate pieces to ensure Carrie Darling Events’ alfresco gatherings feel as plush as any interior space. For one Captiva Island soiree, they created pillows printed with designs from the invitation suite to sit atop the Louis XV-style settee. A jute rug, Acapulco chair, glass-top coffee table and Moroccan poufs rounded out the outdoor ‘living room.’
For one client seeking a polished backyard bash, Anna Lucia paired sculptural black Panton chairs and a charcoal-gray Parsons table with a mirrored top to reflect the host’s contemporary leanings. The glossy surfaces glistened under the light from sleek pendants hanging from the tree branches. “The very dark, monochromatic palette creates an entirely different vibe against the organic elements of lawn and trees in the background,” Anna Lucia says.
The creative repertoire expands with indoor decor. Kelly Zielinski, of Fort Myers-based event rentals company Something Borrowed, loves sourcing unique pieces for unconventional uses—think antique washers turned into beverage stations and ornate vanities as cake tables. And she wows with architectural elements, like a set of arched double doors used as a grand bridal reveal for an open-air aisle.
Beyond the aesthetics, there is a sentimental core behind the indoor-out trend. Indoor decor can be much more personal than what you get from plastic folding chairs. Naples florist Tom Trovato recalls one client who used her mother’s chandeliers in the event tent. These interior pieces also lend themselves to more intimate arrangements and comfier lounging. Sarah Katsandris, of Plíthos Event Rentals and Styling in Fort Myers, is a go-to for local planners looking for velvet sofas, marble lamps, dangling chandeliers, woven placemats, and custom-built bars and light walls. Sarah finds that the furnishings and decor bring a sense of home to any outdoor gathering. “The lounge furniture creates this intimate, cozy feel,” she says. “It seamlessly draws in your guests for those memorable conversations and epic Instagram photos.”