How to transform an open ballroom with stunning decor

Designing in a big open ballroom space can be intimidating! In New Orleans, we are very fortunate to have a number of amazing historic venues right in our own backyard. When venue hunting with our destination clients, we are almost always told that they’d want to see ANYTHING except big hotel ballroom spaces (which they feel they could see in any other city, and come to New Orleans for a unique venue to host their spectacular experience). And while we agree that there are plentiful venue options in town, sometimes a client’s guest count warrants a larger square footage that only a ballroom space would be able to support. Today we are sharing tips on how to make a ballroom space feel both intimate and beautiful using design techniques to make any event a spectacular and memorable experience for your guests!

We toured venues with Lia and Barclay and their families from Texas to kick-off our planning process. As we stepped onto the property at the New Orleans Board of Trade, Lia immediately knew this venue was perfect for her 200+ guests, specifically because of the large ballroom space with the soaring ceilings and open floor plan.

Our design challenge was to create within the space an intimate feeling while highlighting the beautiful architectural details of the trade room. These are the tips we kept in mind while working through the design to fulfill Lia and Barclay’s design needs, that you can apply yourself when tackling a big open space:

1) It’s all about variety: mix up the size and shape of the tables on the floor plan.

We incorporated a mix of long banquet tables and paired with large and medium rounds to help break up the footprint on the floorplan, allowing guests to move about the space while avoiding the feeling of monotony and “sameness” among the table layout.

2) Play up the height of the ceilings with a selection of tall centerpieces stretegically placed.

When you have a mix of tables sizes and shapes, the natural decor choice for floral and candle decor is to mix up the heights of the arrangements. For Lia and Barclay, we strategically focused our tall centerpiece arrangements throughout the center of the room and only on our large round tables. One the long banquet tables, we focused more on long low lush garlands down the length of the table and mid-height candle decor to compliment the arrangements on the other tables. The result was both stunning and effective in filling the space visually with a variety of heights to play up the space.

3) Select table linens that offer different finishes and/or prints that are complimentary to the overall aesthetic.

The variety in table shape and size lends itself to a natural use of varying table linens in texture and prints. Here we used a mix of an oyster colored velvet linen on the long tables, and a delicate damask print in a complimentary neautral tone on the round tables. For stand-out vignettes, such as the cake table, we selected a specialty linen with an intricate embroidered pattern also in the overall color story for the event. The result was a variety of looks that all came together to work well in the space and elevate the overall design.

4) Don’t be afraid to buck the “status quo” and create a floor plan that is atypical in the venue.

The standard floor plan at the Board of Trade calls for all round tables for guest seating, with the cake table placed along the bank of windows overlooking the courtyard. Not only did we rewrite the map by using tables differently throghout the space, we took a chance by moving the cake table outside in the “arcade” area, a long covered walkway with huge architectural columns and cutouts in the wall which were perfect for inserting candle light on custom-built ledges to bring life to the space. By placing the cake table in this area we were able to set it off as more of a focal point and a unique space to conduct the cake cutting ceremony. It worked well and made for an excellent photo opportunity!

Take a look at the photos from Greer G and see for yourself! This was an amazing experience with a great group of destination guests from all over the South. We relied on a stellar team of creatives including Melissa’s Fine Pastries, Luminous Events, Kim Starr Wise, Perrier Party Rentals, and Pigeon Caterers to make all of Lia and Barclay’s dreams come true. Be sure to check out the teaser from Studio Vieux Carre to see everything unfold.

How would you incorporate different design elements to tackle a big ballroom space?