by Jennifer Nicole Dienst | February 01, 2008

Kehoe pieces
Smooth curves: Modular couches
and ottomans by Kehoe Designs
take on a cool-blue mood.

Special-event furniture has gotten a lot more fun -- and functional -- than the rented bar stools and black couches of parties past. Today’s creative planners and rental companies are customizing branded bars, using ottomans and modular furniture to maximize space, and making the old look new again with dramatic Baroque touches. “For higher-end events, everyone wants nontraditional furniture that is hip and comfortable,” notes Sarah Finlayson, creative manager for event management company Blue Plate Chicago.

What follows is a closer look at the hottest trends in event-floor decor.

Kehoe piecesStyles inspired by the past. Baroque is making a comeback -- as in curvy chairs a la Marie Antoinette, dramatic high-back banquettes and slick, black chandeliers. Chicago-based Kehoe Designs Event+Style (, an event design and production firm, is debuting a Baroque-style line of rental furniture. “It’s going to be a huge trend in the next two years,” predicts Bridget Johnson, Kehoe’s creative director.

Ottoman from Taylor Creative PropsOttomans, as seats or tables. Pieces that perform double-duty can be a planner’s best friend. “I like ottomans because you can arrange them in so many ways,” says Finlayson. “I once used snake-skinned ottomans at an event and arranged them in pods with floating candles in the middle.” We love this tufted white rectangular version ($350 for a five-day rental) from Taylor Creative Props (