Another Haven High: Haven Blog Conference 2013!

Last year’s Haven was fantastic, but this year was I daresay, twice as good.  Maybe 3 times as good!  The Haven team really knocked it out of the park this time and we couldn’t be happier.  If you had told me 2 years ago when I sat and dreamed about pulling a conference like this together that we would be so successful 2 years down the road, I wouldn’t have even believed it.  This conference was needed among the DIY/home blogger niche and from the response this year from new bloggers, it was a hit.  All I saw the entire 2 days was smiling faces and happy people.  And that makes me happy!

We had a wonderful assortment of sponsors this year and I think all of them were happy too.  It’s so fun to bring a group this size together, all talking about home improvement and making their homes better.  Along with the blogging classes too, there was so much to absorb and take in. I did get go hop around to classes this year to sit in on the speakers and hear a bit of the topics myself and I learned a bunch from the SEO class.  None of us know it all, that is for sure!                                                Presidential suite

There’s definitely something fun about staying in a swanky hotel and living it up for a few days. The Haven team crashed in the Presidential suite on the 22nd floor of the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead and boy, was that a treat.  This 2 bedroom suite was about 2500 s.f. according to the facts online and 4 of us were in this suite with the other 2 team members just next door in another luxurious suite as well.  Our suite became party central for all our friends at night and we didn’t get to bed before 1 or 1:30 every single night. You can imagine how it would be to meet up with your friends you don’t get to see that often and catch up after hours.  There just weren’t enough hours in the days to do it all.  But, we tried.  We really tried!

bath in suite

This large bathroom, with huge walk-in closet was nice to have.

bathtub Presidential suite

Check out the jetted tub which was so swanky, but we didn’t even have time for a soak.  The rain shower was certainly a treat though.

bedroom suite

The huge master suite that Kristin and I shared.

TV in suite

We even did a few little personalization to each attendee’s TV in the rooms with Haven welcome.

view of downtown ATL

The view overlooking Buckhead and towards downtown in Atlanta.

Haven Team

I just love our Haven team.  We are 6 now and I appreciate their willingness to work hard for Haven’s sake.  Beth, Chris and me on the front row and Traci and Sarah behind us. We all work together to pull off something of this magnitude.  My right hand girl, Kristin, also in Atlanta,  isn’t in this pic, but we really couldn’t do it without her. She’s has the brains with her event planning skills and working with the hotel and sponsors to get everything set up just right.  She makes Haven look great!

Homes party

We started Haven with a fun cocktail party on Thursday evening, hosted by and  They are super sponsors of ours and have supported us in this endeavor for 2 years in a row.

outdoor terrace

The Grand Hyatt has a beautiful terrace with Japanese garden up about 3 floors with a beautiful view of the Buckhead skyline and we lucked out with gorgeous weather that evening. It wasn’t even stifling hot as it normally is in August.

two terraces

There are 2 terraces across from each other and the garden connects them.  Such a beautiful setting for an outdoor party.

flowers at party

We got a few decorations together in preparation for all the attendees coming in that evening.

more attendees

Then they all arrived to cocktails, appetizers and lots of talking and chatting it up.  It was so fun to hear the buzz of excitement in the air.

Haven attendees

Haven is a very exciting conference and you can literally feel the energy when everyone arrives.

Rhoda Katie Sherry

Me, Katie Bower and Sherry from Young House Love catching up at the cocktail party. These ladies spoke at a session on Friday and they are two funny girls.

Kristin Emily

Kristin and Emily. There was SO much stinkin’ talent at Haven this year.

Chris Sarah Katie

Chris, Sarah and Katie.

Cassity Marian

Cassity and Marian.

more party goers

Everywhere I looked there were smiling faces and lots of chattering. You can imagine how much talking was going on with almost 350 women in attendance.  A handful of men find their way to Haven too, with a few husbands tagging along with their wives.

Rhoda Chris Sarah Lindsey

Me, Chris, Sarah and Linsdsay.

Traci Cyndi Richella

Traci, Cyndi, and Richella. Love these three ladies!


Jessica and Kari

Cassity Gina Shauna Wendy Marian

Cassity, Gina, Shauna, Wendy and Marian.  These girls are all good blog friends of mine.

Home Depot

We had The Home Depot once again as our top sponsor and we’re so happy they are on board with us here in Atlanta.

Southern Accents

I missed taking pics of many of the sponsor booths, but here are a few.  Southern Accents in Cullman, AL brought their rustic stuff over for their booth space and it was a big hit among our attendees.

Homeright booth

Homeright was also there.

Kreg booth

Kreg Tools is another sponsor back for the second year.


These ladies had awesome swag bag products, Online Fabric Store.


Purebond was back again.

Royal Design booth

Royal Design Studio was rocking it once again.

Ryobi Nation

The Ryobi booth was very popular and they threw a fantastic party for attendees and gave out tons of free products.

Simpson Strong tie

Simpson Strong Tie was represented.

3M booth

3M had several of their brands represented and also gave out lots of freebies.


 Cottonelle took over the bathrooms with their products.

Duluth booth

Duluth Trading Company had some wonderful shirts to hand out to all.  That was fun!


FrogTape (one of my personal faves) had plenty to share too.

GMC booth

This year, GMC stepped in as a big sponsor too and even brought in one of their fab SUV’s right into the show.  They do some awesome things with Habitat and sent bloggers out on the longest yardsale again this year.  Fun stuff!

Haven banner

Haven was hopping this year and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

set up for keynote

We got things set up for the opening session and it was a sight to behold, this huge ballroom filled with wonderful sponsors.

Haven stage

We had Ana White as our keynote speaker this year and she was fantastic and so inspiring.

Haven grand ballroom

It was fun to see this place fill up with smiling faces.  I didn’t get to take pics during the opening session, but imagine these seats all filled up.

Mocha my day

We also had Mocha My Day back for coffee service.  It was so nice to have coffee going all day long. We all needed the extra energy.

wood trim class Sandra

This year, I was able to pop in a few classes and see what all was going on.  We had several hands on DIY classes as well as lots of blogging classes too.  Something for everyone!  This is Sandra, doing her thing with power tools.

trying out nail gun

This class got to try out some awesome products by Ryobi for hands on DIY.

giant chalkboard

Southern Accents brought in a fun chalkboard and everyone signed their names.

Ballard designs setup

One of our other big sponsors, who were so much fun was Ballard Designs.  They supplied our gift bags this year and sponsored our living room. They brought in all their beautiful furniture and had it set up as a living room setting, where all could lounge and relax.  That was such a treat!

Ballard designs room set up

Such a beautiful setting too.

fresh flowers

Complete with fresh flowers.

Haven ball room

It took a team to get everything set up after the opening session and we all pitched in to get things going.

bookcase challenge

Ballards also sponsored a bookcase challenge both days, with 3 teams competing for Ballard bucks.  It was so fun to watch and I was a team leader on both days.


They had lots of fun Ballard Designs accessories to choose from.

bookcase challenge finished

And each team had about 15 minutes to complete their bookcases.

my team bookchase challenge

This was my team the first day and they ended up winning their challenge.  It was really pretty.

my team bookcase challenge

And this is my team on Day #2.  I don’t have all their names, but they were fun to watch.

rhoda lisa

My friend, Lisa Mowry, was there speaking on behalf of working with magazines.

Haven friends

Wendy, Aly, Stacy, Cassity, and Marianne.

Haven DIY gang

I’m not going to name all of these bloggers, but they are all dear friends of mine. We have so much fun getting together in the same city and we stayed up way too late chatting into the night.

Vicki and Haven people

These ladies were chatting with one of my dear friends, Vicki (on the right) who came to help us out by volunteering.

high school friends

It’s funny, but me, Vicki and another attendee, Barbara, all graduated from Sprayberry High School together and I hate to even say the year.  Ughhh, it was a long time ago!

Haven attendees (2)

These ladies were all smiling and enjoying Haven too.  So sorry not to get all the names straight on here, but it was a busy time.

Jade Rhoda Kelly

Jaderbomb, me, and Kelly.

Rustoleum party

Rustoleum, another of our fab sponsors, hosted a wonderful cocktail party the 2nd night. It was so pretty!

Sherry Young House Love

The ever-funny Sherry from Young House Love had a little fun with the cheese burgers.

That’s about all the pics I got, but wow, was it ever a fabulous conference.  We loved planning it and we loved how it all turned out.  I’m so, so grateful to have the opportunity to start this event and to keep it going for another year or so.  We really feel that it’s a super thing to do for the home/DIY community of bloggers and that it is needed and useful and that’s why we are doing it. To bring together all of these wonderful bloggers and fabulous brands together is a magical thing.

Everyone wins!  When I look back 2 years ago when I came back to Atlanta not knowing what my future held, I can’t help but feel so incredibly grateful for where I am today.  Taking an idea like this and making it happen with the Haven team is so rewarding and I couldn’t be happier.

We can’t wait for Haven 2014 next year!! If you want to read more recaps of Haven, check out our Haven link up page on the website.

This song by Laura Story is such a good reminder to me that sometimes blessings come after the rain and that’s the case with my story as well.  Every time I listen to it, it makes me tear up.


- Rhoda


  1. Thank you so much Rhoda! Everything was wonderful, you ladies really know how make a conference unforgettable 🙂

  2. Your recap just made me hate missing it all the more! I am determined to get there next year!! 🙂

  3. Looks like such an amazing time! I’m so envious! I’m definitely making it a priority to be at Haven 2014! I can’t wait! 🙂

  4. Hi Rhoda, you should be so proud of what you have created with Haven – looks like a fantastic conference! I’ll make it next year for sure.

    Now that we finally moved into our little Blue Cottage, my renovating/interior design story can really begin on my blog, can’t wait! I’m very inspired by everything you have accomplished in your house.

  5. I had such a blast at Haven! You guys did an amazing job organizing everything and it was great meeting you in person. Thanks for all your hard work!

  6. Being my first year I had a little idea of what to expect from last year’s attendees, but the whole experience exceeded my expectations BY FAR! It was a whirlwind and many forever friendships were made.

    I was actually very thankful my husband tagged along… was all very last minute, but he went from a supportive “Now what exactly are you doing on that computer for so long???” to 10x moreover supporting me and wanting to work together! Things really clicked for him there!!! It makes me super happy because I LOVE working with him and he has so many strengths where I do not. Thank you to the entire Haven Team for putting the conference together and making it such a memorable and goal-inspiring event!

  7. LOVED your recap! Wow, for being such a busy lady you got a ton more pictures than I did. I just concentrated on having fun, connecting and learning. 🙂

    Will say it again, THANK YOU for you and all the Haven teams hard work! Hopefully it will be a “blog-changing” weekend for me. I know after last year Haven made such a big difference in my blog, in my blogging friendships, and in my life too.

    Can’t wait for Haven 2014! And so glad it is in July so we don’t have to even wait a whole year. 🙂

    Hope to see you soon, Rhoda!

  8. Wow! that looks like so much fun, Rhoda. So exciting to see what you have created with Haven. Xo Lidy

  9. Thank you for all you (and the rest of the Haven team) do to make this event happen. It was a wonderful experience and I am so excited for Haven 2014. A highlight for me was meeting you, Rhoda. Best, Sarah

  10. xo friend. That’s all I want to say after an awesome recap post. I was literally in {hormonal/pregnant} tears at one point because I wasn’t able to be there and help out and hug you all but there is always next year and reading the recap posts about all the fun and excitement makes me feel like I was there at least a little bit. Standing ovation from me for another year well done!

  11. Dear Rhoda and Kristin,
    Wow! I’m not a blogger but I have enjoyed watching Rhoda’s blog success over the years. You two ladies are amazing! I so enjoyed being a part of Haven this year. How refreshing to be in the midst of so many well dressed, talented, and friendly women. The hotel staff was extremely professional and attentive and the attendees were all so happy to be there. Sign me up to volunteer for Haven 2014! Thanks again to the Haven team for a great experience. Vicki

  12. I am SOOOOOOOOO proud of you and thrilled for you…..and deeply sad that I MISSED IT AGAIN….okay, on my honor, I’m going to come out next year……if you do early registration….let me know and I’ll send over my moolah….I know it will be more than worth it……LOVE YOU AND CONGRATULATIONS!!!! When I worked writing at my first magazine/publishing company, we also hosted a big home expo back in Charleston, SC (over 20 years ago now!) and I was in charge of that as I not only wrote, but was also a special event coordinator….it is a TON OF WORK….no one, unless they’ve done it, knows….but I do and HAVE SO MUCH RESPECT FOR YOUR WORK ETHIC and VISION!! Love you tons!!!

  13. It was amazing Rhoda! Thank you for all your hard work!!

  14. Hi Rhoda! & enjoyed the opportunity to sponsor the event and happy to hear you had a great time at the Haven Conference! Be sure to take a look at all the photos from the event on Facebook, tag yourself & share with family/friends! Excited to chat with you soon! 🙂

  15. Rhoda,

    You and your team did an amazing job on Haven Conference. We enjoyed getting to know the bloggers and it was so much fun to hear how inspiring the classes were for the newer bloggers. From a sponsor/exhibitor standpoint you did a great job organizing this event. Thank you and we look forward to attending in 2014.
    Laura Clark


  1. […] If you want a really great glimpse into what the conference is like, check out Rhoda’s post on the Haven 2013 Conference. […]

  2. […] Just a Girl, Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick, and Rhonda from Southern Hospitality (who also gets credit for this cute […]

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