Haven High!

I’m tired, y’all!

Careful what you wish for, it just might come true.  My friends and I talked last year at Blissdom about the possibility of doing a home/DIY conference, something that was more suited to our niche group.  We had gleaned good info from the other blog conferences that we had been to, but it just seemed that we needed a more narrow focus.  Home/design/DIY bloggers are just in a different category than other bloggers and this niche group has literally exploded in the last couple of years.

It was time.

Time for a brand new conference to be born.  So, one year ago, I pulled together a team of friends and fellow well-known bloggers and the Haven team was born.  We put together a plan of action and after countless Skype calls, planning sessions, Twitter chats, and ticket sales, we were on our way.  We were nervous.  Would the tickets sell out?  Would we get enough sponsors to cover our costs?  Would anyone show up?  And all of that was on my shoulders for the financial burden of caring for the money.

It almost seemed as if June 2012 would never get here.  But, get here it did.

With a bang!

It blew my mind the amount of preparation that went into doing a conference and I couldn’t have done it without my whole team in place.  I met a dear friend, Kristin, here in Atlanta who was my events planner and she took the ball and ran with it, as we secured a hotel venue, started planning menus and logistics for our classroom spaces, as well as planning sessions on Skype with our entire team.  The last month before the conference was a blur, as boxes of swag started arriving at Kristin’s house and the reality of Haven became real true life.

It was really happening!  260 (mostly) women would be showing up in a few short days and we had to be ready.  It was touch and go for awhile, wondering if our banners would be finished in time or if our print schedules would make it to the hotel by opening day.  I’m happy to say, we pulled it off and made it happen and nothing majorly went wrong.


Since you’ll be reading a lot of recaps from the attendees perspective, let me show you a bit of what went on behind the scenes at Haven.  Boxes began arriving at Kristin’s house from our awesome Haven sponsors.  These would all need to be unpacked and loaded into our swag bags, nicely donated by Mailchimp (thanks, Mailchimp!).


Kristin’s sweet mom came to help us on swag bag stuffng day, the weekend before Haven. Her living room and dining room were completely filled with all things Haven.


Our cute swag bags from Mailchimp. We loved how they turned out and they were perfect for our conference brand.


This is just a small portion of the 300 bags that were filled and transported to the hotel.

Haven swag bags

Here they are at the hotel, waiting for registration to begin and for all the attendees to pick up their bags.  We had some great swag bags and that’s a huge shout-out to all of our sponsors.

All Haven Team

My wonderful Haven team: Kate, Sarah, Beth, me, Traci, Chris and MarianKristi, our Haven website designer, had already left to return home.

I could not have done all of this without these girls. It was a wonderful year of planning and to see it all come to fruition was so exhilarating and special and it goes to show you, if you dream big enough, BIG dreams do come true.

Haven team 2

Me and part of my team at registration.  Jaime on the right was a really nice volunteer who wanted to come and help.

team setting up

We were all giddy with excitement as the name badges were all spread out by the alphabet and last names.


Kristin and I had not had time to start working on the pretty lanterns that we wanted to hang from the ceiling, so the team (and a few others) pitched in to help.  I borrowed this pic from Traci.

Hot off the Press!  If you’d like to get your own Haven Maven t-shirt, we have some for sale here at my friend, Debbie’s online shop, Miss Lucy’s Monograms.  Order now before they run out, we only have a few!

Haven lanterns

We did manage to get them up just in time with help from the hotel guys. Home Depot was our Platinum sponsor!

Haven schedules

The Haven schedules arrived just in time to hand out and we were so proud of how they turned out.  With some last minute help from the genius creative, Reni from Bliss and Tell, she came up with a pretty cover for us and we loved it.  Thank you, Reni!

Haven banners

That cover graphics was transferred to our beautiful Haven banners which hung up front during the conference.

Haven sponsors

Haven sponsors:  Big thanks to all of them, we could not have done it without you ALL!  They really went all out for our swag bags too and all of our Haven Mavens were so excited to get their bags.


Wednesday evening, we kicked off a welcome party sponsored by Oreck and Frogtape.  These ladies did an amazing job and everyone was chatting it up and mingling.


My right-hand girl, Kristin, handed out drink tickets.  I couldn’t have put this together without her. She and I were the Atlanta team, collaborating on everything at the hotel and the complete conference set up with all the sponsors.  You can thank Kristin for how well it all came together, she is a pro at events planning.

Haven stage

Our Haven stage.  Our wonderful sponsor, Shaw Floors/HGTV Home also sponsored a coffee house/living room for us and I totally didn’t get enough pics of it all. I’m hoping that all the attendees took a lot more pics than I did of the amazing set up of the coffee house.  It was great!  That coffee kept me going all 2 days, I was drinking Mochas like crazy to keep  my energy up.


The stage with our sponsors logos playing.


Early Thursday a.m., our keynote speakers, the fabulous John and Sherry with Young House Love, kicked off Haven with a big bang and the room was packed and mesmerized as they  recounted their blogging journey and how they got to bloggy stardom.  They are so hilarious and real and we all loved their sense of humor and candor.


It was a packed house, listening to every word that John and Sherry shared.


Sherry and John.  They brought their baby daughter, Clara as well as Burger, the dog.  It was so fun to see them all come waltzing in the hotel late on Wednesday, just like any normal little family.

John Sherry Rhoda

I grabbed a quick pic with the Young House Love family, since I knew that everyone would be clamoring to meet them. Thanks, John and Sherry for driving down to Atlanta and sharing with us.  Y’all kicked off the very first Haven in a memorable way!

my Shaw HGTV room

I’ll share a few highlights from our sponsor booths.  Shaw Floors and HGTV Home were well represented in a beautiful booth, complete with rugs, flooring and lots of great information on this company.  See that room behind me?  That’s mine and Lindsay’s room that we completed in the design competition last year in High Point, NC.  I might have squealed really big when I saw that HUGE poster up in the Shaw booth!


Annie Sloan chalk paint was well represented and this booth saw lots of action as attendees spun the wheel to win prizes.  Annie Sloan gave out a ton of great prizes all during the conference.  Do you think that was exciting for all the Haven Mavens?  You can bet it was!  They were all trying to figure out how to get their paint home on the planes.


Ryobi was there showing off their tools.


Purdy was well represented too and handed out lots of paint brushes, at least one per attendee.  Love me a Purdy paint brush!

Bondo was there showing off their products and how you can use them for home improvement.


The MirrorMate folks had a really nice booth set up too. I’m a big fan of their mirror framing products.

Royal Stencils

Royal Design Studio was also very busy with hands-on demos going on.


Love their products too!


Oreck was there showing off their vacuums to everyone.

Oreck interviews

And they were doing a fun interactive video session with attendees.


Cutter covered the summer with their repellant products.

Fish foam

Nathan with Fish Foam showed off his wonderful window cleaning products.


The Homes.com girls were there having lots of fun with attendees in their booth as well.

Kreg tools

The guys from Kreg tools gave all attendees a mini-jig in the swag bags and those were hot items.  Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps was checking them out.

TRunk show

These ladies had a fun trunk show going with lots of fun jewelry and clothing.

Susie Rhoda

(Susie Harris and me)

Haven was amazing. I got to see old friends and make plenty of new ones.  I was so exhausted at the end of our 2 and 1/2 days, but it was so worth it.  We were so giddy with relief and happiness that Haven was such a success.  It really was like there was a buzz going on all over the hotel, with energy and excitement the entire time that Haven was happening.  It was so exciting to watch and be a part of.  I’m honored to be leading this group and we do hope that there will be another Haven next year.

If you had told me 5 years ago that all of this would be happening to ME, I would have never believed it.  God has been a part of this Haven conference too and He put it all together as only he can do.

I’m grateful and honored to be the leader of this fine group of women.  It’s been an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see what next year holds for all of us.

For now, I’m on a Haven high for a few more days.

You can click over to the Haven Flickr page for TONS of pics, you’ll feel like you were there!

OK, you Haven Mavens!  Time to link up your Haven recap posts right here.  I can’t wait to go and read them all and see the fun you had.

(Flood stain winners are announced here!)

- Rhoda


  1. Rhoda, your wish sparked many other’s to dream big as well. Thank you and your team for your time and energy in creating an event that I will always remember. The tips I learned will carry me on my blogging journey and I am grateful. Cheers to all the Maven Havens. What a ride!

  2. What a fantastic the behind the scenes look at Haven, Rhoda! All of the work you and your team put into planning and organizing this event truly showed in the end result. It’s clear that home decor/DIY’ers planned this event because no detail was overlooked (loved the paper lantern/Home Depot paint can ceiling decor)! It was such an amazing conference and I was thrilled to be a part of it – thank you so much!

  3. Thank you Rhoda and the Haven team, what a memorable experience that you worked so hard to pull off. Yall did an amazing job, and I can’t wait til next year!! Xoxoxo, Kristina

  4. Gina in S FL says:

    I admire your energy, Rhoda! You are an inspiration to many!

  5. Absouletly incredible! You have much to be proud of.

  6. Rhoda,
    All of your hard work is very much appreciated by so very many. I learned a lot, but the best part was the relationships that were established during the conference. I am so proud to be a part of this big, blogging community!

  7. Rhoda–
    It was a blast! It was so much fun to meet blogpeeps in person. Your team did an awesome job!

  8. Rhoda, I know you’ve heard this from about 5 million people but Haven was amazing. Your generous and warm spirit was evident throughout the weekend, EVERYONE I’ve talked to has gushed about how welcome and happy they felt. That is NOT easy to pull off, and yet you gals did it beautifully. Your post makes me exhausted just reading it, the work you put into it was incredible. PLEASE send a call out for help next time; I’d fly down a day or two early if needed to stuff bags or hang paint cans and lanterns! Thank you, again. Haven was pretty life changing for me!

  9. Rhoda,
    You ladies did an amazing job! Haven was sooo worthwhile to all of us AND a blast! Loved meeting you at last – thank you for all your hard work! Already pumped up for Haven 2013!
    Heidi 🙂

  10. Rhoda! Now when I read your posts, I can hear your great southern drawl and it’s like you’re talking to me. 🙂
    You (all) did a great job putting Haven together. It was great to get to know you and Kristin better at dinner! You’re both very sweet and funny.
    I can’t wait till next year!!!

  11. I hope you don’t get tired of hearing thank you, because I’m saying it again! Haven was an unforgettable experience! Thank you so very much for all of your hard work. I live in Atlanta, so I’m more than happy to volunteer as extra hands for Haven 2013! Great job.

  12. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! All your hard work paid off and the conference was amazing. It was such a great experience and I’m so thankful that I was able to go. I had no idea what to expect going into it but it was great.

    Thanks for hosting this party! I’m excited to read everyone’s different thoughts about it!

  13. Oh, Rhoda, what a great recap! It was nice to see a very small peak at what went into the planning. I have to tell you, Kim and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we knew none of the paint cans fell and hit anyone on the head. I wasn’t sure of our trying skills!! 😉

    Even though I had a stressful situation going on at home, Haven was simply amazing. I had no idea a conference could be like that. I’m looking forward to Haven 2013 with all my heart! 🙂

    Thank you for letting us add our links!

  14. Rhoda, I cannot tell you what an amazing experience I had at Haven. I was on a “Haven High” meeting all the wonderful bloggers….

    You and your team had done an incredible job in organizing this event. It was evident that so much hard work went into providing us with an experience we shall remember forever. Your kindness to me is something that warmed my heart and I shall treasure always!!! Thanks Rhoda from the bottom of my heart!!!

  15. I didn’t have the privilege of going to Haven but…it was wonderful to hear about the amazing time so many of my friends had. Thank you for all your hard work!!

  16. Great recap post, Rhoda! Everything was amazing… I’m counting down until next year! : ) PS. How did we NOT get a picture together?! Especially with some of the other Atlanta ladies? Will just have to meet up again soon to take one! xo

  17. Everyone from the Haven team, hotel staff, awesome sponsors, bloggers and non bloggers came together. After just minutes of meeting, friendships were made. Products were discoverd and DIY’ers were getting hands on attention. If you didn’t make it this year, just soak in everyones knowledge and gear up for the next one. One great thing about Haven was it’s affordabilty. Bloggers on budgets made it work. Start saving now y’all. It’s so worth it!

  18. Rhoda, thank you to you and your team for the Haven experience! I can only imagine the time it took to pull this off! This is a great recap! Haven was a huge success! I learned so much! It amazed me that each presenter was so open and willing to share personal experiences about their blogging journey! The swag bags were amazing! The sponsor’s door prizes were too! I appreciate everything! My head is still spinning with the information and ideas I received! I can’t wait until next year! 🙂

  19. I knew there was a lot of work behind the scenes and your hard work along with the team paid off – the event was so much fun! Thank you so much for doing such an amazing job! It was lovely to get to see you again! (I couldn’t stop smiling at seeing your beautiful room design in the Shaw booth too!)

  20. Just wanted to tell you what an incredible conference it was. It is so wonderful to be a part of this inspirational community. I think it is going to take me months to follow up on all the ideas and suggestions that I got from attending the sessions!

    Have a wonderful and blessed day!

  21. Love the behind the scenes shots! Thank you and the other ladies for working so hard to make Haven possible! I enjoyed every minute of it, the swag was like the cherry on top!

  22. It was an amazing conference Rhoda & it was so nice to finally meet you!! Thank you so much for all of your hardwork & the countless hours you put in to make this event possible!! We truly appreciate it!! Looking forward to next year!!

  23. Love getting a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to put this amazing conference together. It boggles my mind to think of the amount of planning and work that went into it, but we’re all so glad you did it. It went way beyond my expectations for it, that’s for sure.

    Glad I got to see you again and catch up with all my blog friends. Thanks for everything!! 🙂

  24. Oh Rhoda, how wonderful! I am exhausted just thinking about everything you had to accomplish! Congratulations to the Haven Team! It looks like it was a terrific event! Dare i ask…Will their be a second year of Haven??

  25. Love your teal top! Where did you find it?


  26. Haven was wonderful! Thanks so much to you and your team for all of your hard work.

  27. You made it look like a piece of cake to those of us there! The event was truly “life changing”! I’ve been to other conferences before and this was the best! I worry about it becoming huge, because I loved the intimacy of this event! Thanks so much!

  28. Rhoda~

    What a fun 2 1/2 days! Thank you for all of your hard work and lack of sleep! 🙂 It was a treat and a joy to meet so many fun people from all over and put a face behind the blogs.

    Congratulations on a job well done……

  29. Delores LeBoeuf says:

    HOW WONDERFULLY EXCITING – I could feel the fun coming through your blog..GEE WIZ, I missed it. Im new at all of this just finding you all a couple/few months ago and I am totally hooked. I too am a constant home decorator/junker/thriftier (obsessive) lover of my home, family, friends…gonna take a break today from chores (canning blackberry jam) and sit myself down for a couple of hours to look through all the fotos. Thank you so much for all the hard work/planning of this conference and for the postings, now I can feel a part of it. Love & Blessings, Lady Delores.

  30. Rhoda, I am so glad it turned out so well. God really has blessed you… it’s always fun to go back and see His hand at work the whole time. I really hope there is a Haven 2013 because I would love to go! Take time and recoup a little bit… you deserve it.

  31. Thank you for hosting a fantastic conference and for giving us a place to share our recap posts!
    I hope you spend the rest of your summer relaxing!
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

  32. Hi Rhoda,
    I haven’t posted a comment to you in years, but I’ve occasionally popped in to see what you’ve been up to. I felt I should say something this time. I was saddened by everything that has happened to you over the past year, but am gloriously happy for you and all your new adventures. God really can perform miracles even today. I’ve loved watching your blog grow and it’s due to all your hard work, creativity and tenacity. You’re full of wonderful inspiration and don’t mind sharing it. Congratulations on the success of Haven. Would love to have been there but conflicted with other plans. Perhaps next year? It looked like a lot of fun. I am so enjoying your house renovation and love to see what you and your parents have accomplished every week. I know it’ll be as gorgeous if not better than your home in Birmingham. Good luck on your journey and may God continue to bless you.
    Hugs, Amanda

  33. Rhoda, thanks so much for having a recap party…awesome idea! I enjoyed meeting Kristin and her parents during the bag stuffin’ process at her home…she was so sweet to let Haven take over her home for a while. It was fun getting a sneak preview of all the goodies…the sponsors were so generous! Everything turned out great!

  34. Rhoda, so sorry to have missed Haven this year. I have so enjoyed reading all the recaps and can tell it was a smashing success! Congrats to you and your team.

  35. Thank you ALL so much for stopping by & linking up! I have had the best time reading all the posts and basking in the glory of Haven. It was amazing on so many levels & I’m grateful that all of you felt the same way we did. There was an electric excitement running through that hotel for 2 whole days & it was such a great event! Hopefully we can do it again next year!

  36. Rhoda, you all should be so proud of this! What an accomplishment! I hope I can join you next year… If vacation time permits!

    Much love,


  37. What a great recap.And so much more to read too!What a great time.Wish I could have been there.

  38. Thank you for sharing the Haven with us bloggers that didn’t get to attend.

  39. Fabulous fabulous! Reading all the linkups and your own story, just wow. I nearly felt like I was there! I’ll start planning for 2013 now! 🙂

    Just, thanks for making this a reality for so many Rhoda. Beyond awesome!


  40. Sigh…………….what fun you all seemed to have!

    Thank you for sharing such amazing behind-the-scenes!

    You REALLY put on a wonderful conference!!!!! BRAVO and well done!

  41. The bags look great, the shirts look great, the decorations look great and the Haven looked stunning! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  42. I can’t thank you enough for my experience at Haven! You girls really went above and beyond. Everything was so organized, the sponsors were wonderful, the speakers were insightful and the good company of DIY bloggers is something I’ll never forget. I can’t wait until Haven 2013 😉

  43. Rhoda-
    I wish I could have attended the conference. Haven is the one that I am really wanting to go to. Maybe next year if finances and time allow. It looks like you guys all had a ton of fun!

  44. It looked like an amazing conference! So sad that I couldn’t attend. Hopefully there will be a Haven 2013. 🙂

  45. Looks like a fabulous time…with lots of friendships and knowledge! Congrats to you! and now the big question….will you do it again?! 🙂

  46. Congrats Rhoda, job well done! And, what an accomplishment, you must feel so proud. Have seen a few Haven posts on other blogs but it was nice to see some behind-the-scenes views.

  47. Ladies,
    You should all be proud of yourselves. What women can accomplish by reading your blogs. I am almost 65, and I have been inspired by you. I love reading , taking your tips and advice. Most people don’t have alot of money these days to decorate and your blog helps to do these things on a budget. Plus DIY is the new exercise! You have taken on a whole house! What a Gal! Thanks for sharing your wonderful pic’s and life with us. God certainly has his hands over you.
    God Bless

  48. Looks like a lot of work but also loads of fun. I just started a blog in May so I’m a newby at this. However that doesn’t stop me from dreaming big and one day attending one of these. Until then, congrats and great job!!! 🙂

  49. Rhoda, I’m so happy for you! It’s easy to tell that people loved this conference. I know you poured your heart into it for a long time, so I’m thrilled to know that it turned out so well. Congratulations!!

  50. Thank you, Rhoda, and ALL of your planning staff/team for the great event that Haven 2012 was. When I bought my ticket way back in August of 2011 when I first heard about Haven, I was wondering if the $200 would be worth it but Oh My Goodness!…the swag bag alone was probably worth that! You are right about it not being possible without the great sponsors…it was a fabulous event that would have cost much more per ticket if everyone had to pay for what the event actually cost. When I started seeing “Haven 2013” on other blogs last weekend, I thought, “I don’t know if Rhoda and the team want to put themselves through this again”. Thanks so much for all the hard work.

  51. Congratulations on your success Rhoda! It was such a delight to come and enjoy your conference and I am so happy I was able to participate.


  52. Again thanks for all your hard work!

  53. Hi Rhoda! Thanks for ALL of your hard work and time involved to make this such a fabulous conference! I came away with 6 new Best Blogger friends and we already have started connecting and helping each other! This was the best thing that has happend to me as a blogger. Thank you! Thank you! Cannot wait until Haven 2013!

  54. Wonderful behind the scene post, Rhoda! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication so Haven could be as wonderful as it was. Haven was my first blog conference, and I can say that I loved every minute of it. Any future conferences I attend will have a lot to live up to. Thanks again for everything!

  55. Rhoda, you and the team did a fantastic job! I was so impressed with how smoothly everything went, and I was so sad to leave Haven. Thank you so much for putting this together – I really, really enjoyed it and learned SO much.

  56. Congratulations, Rhoda and Friends!!!!!

  57. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Rhoda for doing this! It was a life changing experience for me, both on my blog and in real life. I don’t know if Haven did it necessarily, but something clicked on and things are changing and I feel so good. I’m a better blogger, mom, wife, friendm and person. I feel better than I’ve felt in a while.

    Thank you so much for this. 🙂

  58. Hey Rhoda, I finally got over here to read your post, holly smokes what an awesome recap! This must have taken you forever!! It is so detailed and shows everything. Nicely done 🙂 Thank you so much for all your work organizing it. The conference not only provided me with a wealth of information but some life long friendships and laughs I will never forget. Thank you for that!! I just linked up my first Vlog, my recap.

  59. I just got back from vacation – I left the day after I got home from Haven. I’m exhausted but so glad I went to the conference! It was so great meeting you – you all did an awesome job! I’ll be there next year for sure!

  60. Rhoda~you deserve a NAP! You all did an over the top job putting this together! It was so wonderful…can’t wait for next year. xo

  61. Getting excited for Haven 2013, and this post is just what I needed to get ready. Can’t wait to meet a bunch of new best friends, all with the motto, “Just Paint It, Baby!” and tons of clever deco tricks up our sleeves!


  1. […] Want to read more recaps of the Haven conference? Click HERE. […]

  2. […] more Haven 2012 Conference recaps at Southern Hospitality. // // […]

  3. […] you’d like to read about some other Haven experiences….head on over to Southern Hospitality! Share this:SharePrintEmailDiggFacebookTwitterPinterestStumbleUponLinkedInRedditTumblr This entry […]

  4. […] For more details on all the fun that was had at Haven, check out the linkup posts at Southern Hospitality. […]

  5. […] I’m linking up to Rhoda’s Haven Party! […]

  6. […] read more recaps of the conference click on over Rhoda’s blog – Southern Hospitality where she has a link up of recap […]

  7. […] Come check out even more Haven Recaps over at Rhoda’s! […]

  8. […] Haven High! @ Southern Hospitality Related Posts:Kirkwood Flip Update #4 Painted BrickWordless WednesdayAmerican Hydrangea Society Tour 2012 Garden #3The Next Pretty Old House FlipKirkwood Flip Update #2 This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← American Hydrangea Society Garden Tour 2012 Wraps up Wordless Wednesday → […]

  9. […] pretty much summed up the whole story in her post which is a must read.  What happened was a year ago we DIY/home blogger gals came up with this […]

  10. […] I am linking up over at Rhoda’s – come on by! […]

  11. […] Southern Hospitality […]

  12. […] I’m linking this up to Southern Hospitality. […]

  13. […] You can see other Haven recaps at Southern Hospitality. /* Pin It Leave a CommentFiled Under: bloggers, Blogging Tips, […]

  14. […] Sharing at Southern Hospitality! […]

  15. […] If you missed my recap, click here.  Or go to Rhoda’s wrap-up post and linky party and read some of those.  It was life-changing, blog-growing, […]

  16. […] this up to Southern Hospitality. You May Also Like:Unlocking Your CreativityMix and Mingle Party- The Mustard CeilingI Made The […]

  17. […] more Haven recaps, visit Rhoda’s blog. There’s a whole link party […]

  18. […] P.S. There is a flickr Haven group here if you want to see more pics and Rhoda has a link up party for all the Haven recaps here. […]

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