Hey, I’m back! I’m finally coming up for air after a brutal stretch of 15-20 hour days working on NY State Blues Festival. I had a bunch of responsibilities for this event, but the main thing was handling hospitality for 300-ish people in the VIP and Artist areas each night. Part of that was creating a cool and comfortable lounge area for our musicians. Last week I posted some of my plans for the 20’x20′ tent that I transformed into a funky boho lounge, and today I’m sharing the finished project.
(which was a total BLAST, btw!)
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The festival takes place in Clinton Square in the middle of downtown Syracuse, and my tent sat behind the stage on the sidewalk in front of an office building. The obvious challenge was to make it feel less like a rented tent and more like a warm and welcoming living space. Aside from that, this particular urban space is not well maintained. The square seems to be the permanent home to a colorful cast of street people and the building features 6 dead Christmas trees complete with lights lined up along the front. We had to clean up a lot of trash, broken glass and cigarette butts before we could even get started. So, lots of elbow grease and sweat plus smoke and mirror decorating magic were the name of the game last week.
I knew I wanted multiple conversation areas, but I wasn’t sure how much furniture I would be able to fit into the tent. I ended up using the free trial plan on a website called SmartDraw to make a floor plan to scale. It was super-easy to use and there was almost no learning curve – if I had more use for it, I would totally buy it at $12.95 per month.
My original idea was to back the couches up to each other in the middle of the tent with a sofa table in between, but by playing around with the floor plan online I was able to come up with a better solution without shoving the furniture around too much.
The festival was held on a blisteringly hot and muggy weekend, so keeping the tent partially open on the ends was necessary for airflow. I kept the back wall totally open and the front wall pulled halfway.
The fun part about a project like this is that it isn’t real life – you can be a little over the top with music festival decor….or a lot over the top. I think most of what I put in this tent would translate pretty well to a real room, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.
I found tons of great hippie tapestries on Amazon, but I wanted to keep the color scheme pretty monochromatic – cream, tan, brown and gold with lots of natural textures. For each sidewall I ordered 2 queen size mandala tapestries and 1 twin size Ganesha tapestry. Matching the tapestries on each wall gave it a nice symmetry.
Hindu god Ganesha is the patron of arts and sciences, the deva of intellect and wisdom and the remover of obstacles. Since we originally had thunderstorms in the forecast for the entire weekend, I figured we could use all the help we could get “removing obstacles” for our little festival. 😉
Aside from divine intervention with the weather, the Ganesha tapestries were visually striking and probably got the most compliments out of anything I put in there.
My first conversation area was anchored by an $80 white leather sofa.
The wicker chairs, tile top sofa table, poof ottoman and vintage conga drum came out of my house and the folding metal candle holder on the sofa table came from the thrift store.
I didn’t have another tapestry for the short wall, so I hung a rattan area rug that I had in my attic to cover most of the white sidewalls and layered on a metal wall hanging that normally lives on my deck. The lanterns were in my attic.
The coffee table was $8, and it was in pretty rough shape when I bought it. I rubbed stain into the wood to disguise the watermarks and scratches and I planned to pry the linoleum tile that someone applied (badly) to the leather top. The weird tile layout bugged me, but it worked fine for what I was doing and I knew it would be mostly covered anyway. Both the rectangular tray and the wooden dish came from the thrift store.
I thought these three monkeys made the perfect accessory. 😉
The side table was $7 at the thrift store. I rubbed stain into the bad spots, replaced the knob on the drawer and gave the top a fast and easy stencil treatment. The cool mirror was a clearance find at Hobby Lobby – originally $89.99 marked down to $9.
The second seating area was a round rattan Papason and a Papasan rocker, both from thrift stores.
Remember Papasan chairs? We had one in our family room when I was growing up:
Yep, that’s me somewhere around 1984 or 1985 hanging out in the Papasan. How’s that for a throwback? Big permed hair, too much eye make-up and a semi-permanent scowl because I had just acquired a mouthful of massive metal braces.
(Yes, I realize my hairstyle matches our cocker spaniel Toby….no, I don’t think it was intentional. )
Anyway….I totally lucked out with the Papasan chair I found for about $30 at a thrift store. The cushion was in good condition and worked perfectly with my color scheme. It was a little embarrassing buying one in 2016, but I knew it would work great in the lounge. Plus, wicker and rattan are lightweight and easy to transport – a huge plus for a project like this.
I stenciled a mandala design on the pair of wicker ottomans that I swiped out of my living room.
I made two sets of folding wooden screens out of louvered bi-fold doors I found at the ReStore – just $15 for all of them. They really helped to give the space some structure, soften up the corners and help give a sense of privacy on the open side of the tent. I lashed them to the tent frame with fishing line to keep the wind from blowing them over.
(There are a few things you should never be without when setting up an outdoor festival – fishing line, sharpies and zip ties. And peanut M&Ms. You can literally never have enough. )
The candelier came from my pergola, the candlesticks were in my attic and the gold animal heads were another Hobby Lobby clearance find – just $2.50 each. The round table was part of the pair I found for $10 each. I covered the tops with textured wallpaper I had leftover from a long ago project and I painted them with brown and gold paint.
I wanted to have a sense of enclosure along the back even though it was open, so I hung plants, wind chimes and a wood and metal wall hanging. The other wooden screen took care of the last corner.
I picked up a super ugly golden oak sofa table at the ReStore for just $5, but I covered it up with a jute runner and topped it with some globes and piece of driftwood – so you would never know. The table was a little low for the sofa, so I put some bricks under the legs to get it closer to the right height.
The third conversation area was anchored with a golden tan sofa that I got for $60, a cool 1970’s gold striped chair for $25, $12 ottoman and a round Craigslist coffee table.
I lit all the candles at dusk, and the space looked enchanted, sexy and magical.
Funky Boho Lounge Budget Breakdown
(The actual amount spent was a bit less because I was able to redeem coupons and reward points for most of my thrift store purchases)
Thrift Store & Craigslist Furniture: $290
Wooden Screens: $15
Clearance & thrift store accessories: $29
Clearance pillows & pillow covers: $50
The area was an unexpected surprise for our artists and we got tons of very sweet compliments. I have to say, this was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever tackled…it was kind of sad to tear it all down, you know?
I realize that outfitting a festival VIP lounge isn’t exactly a normal project for most people, but I had several people comment that this would be a killer way to outfit their children’s first apartments. I’m almost 50, so (like me) most of my friends have kids in their 20s. A funky boho lounge vibe would be perfect for hip millennials, and the super affordable price tag doesn’t hurt either.
I’m linking this post up at some terrific blog parties – you can find my complete list of places I party HERE.