Transform Your Event Space with These Tried-and-True Corporate Event Rentals
No matter what kind of venue you’re using for your event, you’re going to want to dress it up to suit your theme, aesthetic, and needs of the guests. Happily, the world of event decor and furniture rentals is better than it’s ever been.
Here in creative San Francisco, there are many companies with curated inventories that are beautiful enough to be featured in magazine spreads—and many are! We sat down with our Creative Director Marianne Jackson to find out her favorite tried-and-true picks for rentals that customize and transform a corporate event venue.
When we need to fill a space and make a dramatic impact, we love renting the Blox Back Bar and styling it with glassware, votives, and liquor bottles to create visual depth. We rent this fun shelving system from AFR, a company that we love for their selection and because of their national presence. No matter where we’re planning an event, we can use the same inventory. We’ve rented their items for corporate events in San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Dallas—and it’s great every time. We plan corporate events around the country, so we’re always happy to have a vendor we can rely on in any city!
Warm Up Your Event Space By Bringing the Outdoors In
Did you know you can rent trees? It’s true! One of our favorite “secrets” for creating an instantly cozy atmosphere is strategically placing large potted trees throughout a venue.
We love bringing greenery into event spaces in any situation, but especially when our client has a tight floral budget or if we’re working in a large “blank slate” venue (the kind that comes with just four walls and a roof). We use trees to create framing or fill space on a large stage or to bring the outdoors in and warm up an otherwise cold space. No matter the weather here in San Francisco, we can still have an outdoor feel with greenery in the room.
Our favorite vendor to use for plant rentals is Standard Party Rentals. They have an amazingly large selection of trees, and we especially love to use their Japanese maples for their wild elegance. We recently used them at an event and placed amber-colored up lights on the maples for extra drama. The result was as stunning as we expected.
When our client is looking to save money on florals, create a trendy aesthetic, or be more sustainable, we rent succulents from the Plant Library—a place we could happily play in all day! This rental company has so many options for greenery; whether we’re creating an elegant garden party look or wanting to go more desert chic, we know they’ll have something just right for our event.
Set the Mood with Unique Antiques
Doesn’t this cabinet make you think of an old apothecary, filled with mystery items of yesteryear? We absolutely love the Maimes Cabinet from the stunning rental house, Found Rentals. Several pieces in their collection are one-of-a-kind and they also have multiples of many other items. They carry such a wide variety and that really lets you run with your creativity. We love to rent this cabinet when we want to make a dramatic statement and create a focal point in a room. Marianne will fill it with greenery, other found items, and style it to match the company’s brand and aesthetic.
This enormous cabinet isn’t the only piece we’re in love with. Marianne also daydreams about their iron gates (and everything else in the collection), saying, “the number of pieces I am crazy about within their inventory is pretty much limitless.” She’s been pondering how she might use one of their antique iron gates: “Maybe as a stage backdrop? Maybe as a divider for a space? Or a buffet backdrop? Or a place to hang directional signage? I’ll find a way.” We love your creativity, Marianne!
Up Your Stage Presence with Modern Seating
When we’re planning a conference, an event with panel sessions, or anything that requires speaking from a stage, we love to pick furniture that’s comfortable, lightweight, and beautiful. Why lightweight, you ask? When you have panels going from 3-person to 6-person back to a three-count throughout the day at a conference, our team needs those chairs to be easy to move so that stage resets can happen quickly. Our favorite by far is this upholstered Anders Chair from Bright Rentals. We’ve used it over and over again because it checks all the boxes we need for perfect stage furniture.
Don’t Miss Out on a Branded Bar Opportunity
The bar is always a focal point of an event—especially when there are signature cocktails or California wines!—so we always make a point to make sure this area stands out. We can’t count the number of times we’ve sourced the illuminated 6-foot bar from Blueprint Studios. It's perfect for expos, bars, registration, DJ stations—you name it. The front-illuminated panel can be customized to fit the company, sponsor, or event branding, so we source the print specs and the rental company puts it all together to make it look on brand and polished. The illuminated feature also ensures that this piece stands out in a crowded room; no matter the lighting. We LOVE the illuminated bar for its versatility, and we love that Blueprint Studios is a perfect one-stop shop for getting the look just right every time.
Inspiration is Everywhere
Whenever we’re sourcing ideas for how to style a corporate event, we often end up finding inspiration in unlikely places. Of course, we make a point to go to industry events and follow eye-candy social media accounts, but we also find our “aha!” moments when we’re out and about. Just last year, Marianne saw an umbrella installation in a side street in Istanbul that inspired her decor for an outdoor event.
When planning, Marianne says that she might start with a specific idea of what she wants, but then needs to work within the parameters of what is available, which only inspires her creativity more. As she browses what’s available for a client’s date and budget, the design concept may change or evolve because she wants to incorporate a certain piece.
No matter what, Marianne always finds ways to get the client what they want and do it on budget. For example, a client once wanted comfortable lounge seating for a casual tech event, so Marianne sourced bean bags that fit the budget and the aesthetic; they were also a big hit with the guests!
PRO TIP: If your budget is small, constrain your thematic vision. Each vendor has baseline costs like delivery charges, so stick with one vendor to trim baseline costs. If your vision is to have three distinct themes within a single event, this will inevitably increase your budget because you may not be able to source all those themes from a single place.
What’s Your Next Event?
We’d love to hear about your next event! Our creative wheels get spinning from the very first phone call, and we would love to start dreaming about your creative vision.
Send us a note, and we’ll be in touch soon. We’re already excited for your event!
Maggie Kennedy is the co-owner of Kennedy Events; a large-scale event management company based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Our team creates stress-free conferences and events with a positive impact, which allow our clients to resonate with their audience. Kennedy Events specializes in producing flawless product launches, award ceremonies, fundraisers and multi-day conferences while keeping our eye on retention and engagement goals