My New Blog Design!!

Squeallllll, do you see it?  The new design?

In spring of 2009, I got my very first real professional blog design done and it was an exciting day indeed. I was very happy with the outcome and that’s what you’ve seen on my blog all these years.  Four and 1/2 years is eons in blogland! That pretty banner with the pics that I took myself, showing things that I love, including a starfish for my love of the beach and other things that represent my style, I loved it for a long time.

Greens and grays were the colors I chose and I loved the vibe of these colors together, creating a look and brand for Southern Hospitality. The look was me through and through and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. But, after having the same design for a few years, there was need for improvement and better flow. I wanted to be able to load larger pics. I was limited to the size of pics that I could upload on my blog to 500 px wide. I love big beautiful pics and wanted to go bigger than that, but I was limited to the size of my content box and my theme and design.


I also felt the need, as have many of my fellow bloggers to go a little more streamlined, clean and classic in the look of my blog. I didn’t want a lot of background “noise” or lots of things going on.  My sidebar is busy enough and I wanted my content and my design to be cheerful and welcoming.  I put off a redesign for a long, long time.   I just didn’t want to spend a boatload of money on a new design since I had heard horror stories about that part from blog friends.  My blog wasn’t broken, so I didn’t feel an urgent need to fix it.   I didn’t know who to work with or who to trust with my blog.

Along came a brand new designer right here in Atlanta, Sarah Fogle, with Sweet Theory Designs. I met her through our Atlanta blogger meet-ups and she’s a young and talented designer with a blog of her own, the Ugly Duckling House. She works fulltime, is going to school for her MBA and also launched this new web design service. Oh, not to mention, she’s renovating her own house!  Busy much, Sarah!

Well, Sarah is a whizz at all of this and walked me through the process of redesigning Southern Hospitality and creating a brand new fresh look for my blog and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I just love the freshness, the simplicity, and the classic logo we came up with.

I had these fern bookplates that I bought antiquing and that is what we ended up using for my logo, the beautiful fern you see at the top of my blog. So, I kept the feel and colors of my blog, just freshened it up a bit. Sarah did a fantastic job of taking my “I’m not sure what I want” ideas and running with them, like adding a touch of beadboard, which is near and dear to my heart.  I couldn’t recommend anyone more highly, so if you’re looking for a blog redesign, then Sarah’s your girl.  And, she is SO reasonable!

She updated my theme to the Genesis child’s theme and not only is my design fresher looking, it’s also hopefully easier to navigate. We’ve got drop-down menus and everything should be really easy to find now. I’ll be checking things out to make sure all the buttons are working properly, so if you see something off, let me know.  Also, you’ll notice a row of pics across the top. Those will be rotating and are thumbnails of recent posts, so you can easily see if you want to click on something.  The olde posts are also just below the main post, as always too.

I absolutely love it and I hope you do too! Thanks again to all of my readers out there who so faithfully support me and my blog by coming by every single day. I appreciate y’all SO much!!

- Rhoda


  1. Hi Rhoda! Love your new blog design. Green and gray are two of my favorite color combos. 🙂

  2. Very pretty, Rhoda! I love the new design! I adore ferns and starfish! What a perfect choice for your header! Your blog looks fabulous!

  3. Looks fresh and youthful — kind of like your new place in life. Love it!

  4. nice gift to yourself! you deserve it!

  5. Your new blog design is beautiful and easy to read. I love the large photos also.
    Betty @ My Cozy Corner

  6. Congrats Rhoda!!!! 🙂 It looks amazing! I love the colors and how crisp it looks!

  7. Absolutely elegant and lovely Rhoda, just like the blog’s author! 🙂 Congrats!

  8. The reply boxes here are a little pale…. I sort of took a guess as where to “click”! But I came out good so that’s OK! I’ll miss the pics you had, I liked the old banner, but I do think, as others do, that the new one is very elegant, and retains the “you” in it. Well done!

  9. I love it! Then again everything you do I love!

  10. Love it, Rhoda! The pops of greenery are perfect!

  11. Sorry Rhonda, bland and boring and not a true reflection of your vibrant personality and style. I understand the desire for a more sophisticated design, but there is nothing unique or engaging about this design. It feels rather generic. I see the trend on many blogs to remove one’s photographs from the masthead in the misguided desire to appear more “professional”- don’t care for it much. This design is so understated it disappears.

  12. I like the new look. Congrats!

  13. Your old design was captivating. Those photos you took will never go out of style, in my book. Your new design, though clean, looks corporate. Just my 2 cents. Big photos are fine, but slower to load. Easy navigation gets my thumbs up, though.

  14. It looks great! Definitely fresh!

  15. I’m afraid I have to agree. The new look is a bit on the bland side. And a pop-up ad is obscuring your the title area and part of your text. (Maybe that’s just my computer?) It’s just too generic and has lost your personality in the streamlining. I always love your posts, though, so will continue to follow!

  16. Sleek, stylish and sophisticated.

  17. It looks fantastic, Rhoda. I love it.♥

  18. The new one is nice, but I like the old banner better. It popped more. These are very small and subdued.

  19. Congrats! It looks GREAT!!!!!!!!

  20. Just beautiful Rhoda…and she so captured what you love…love the big pics!!…So nice to hear about a great web designer!…and I love the beadboard at the top!

  21. Love the new look, Rhoda (and the fern bookplates).

    We will all enjoy the wider photos. That’s going to be fab.

    And I totally understand your indecision about the redesign. Blog redesigns are so much harder than room redesigns. It’s like committing to a dramatic new hairstyle. You think you like it in the mirror but you want to see what everyone else is going to say. Well, yours is great!

  22. Beautiful!!! I love it! Great job Sarah!

  23. Rhoda, this is beaut-i-ful. It flows so well and is nice and clean with just the right amount of white space. Sophisticated and welcoming too. Great job, kudos to both of you.

  24. I didn’t read through the comments to see if anyone else mentioned it, it on my iPad, in landscape, the email and twitter buttons cover up your logo. That doesn’t happen in portrait view though.

  25. I can understand why a few readers prefer your original blog design. It is the one that has greeted us for years and change comes hard for some. I agree the larger photos from your original blog drew me in too. But…this is your blog!!! Your personality!!! Let it shine and keep on being you! You, your story, your design style, your DIY projects, your recipes….that’s why we read your blog. Love the ferns! Blessings sweet friend! Vic

  26. Love it Rhoda!

    We’ve come a long way from those little brown “calico” templates in 2007!:-)

  27. The fresh new look is lovely, Rhoda. The colors are pretty and sophisticated, and the ferns add a natural element that is welcoming. Great job, Sarah. 🙂

  28. Looks great and much easier to navigate!! Love that I can see multiple posts on the homepage and just scroll down instead of them being teeny tiny. Love your blog!! Great job Sarah!!

  29. Looks great, Rhoda!

  30. I love it, Rhoda! So clean, fresh and pretty!

  31. Love it (and you)—— a new blog design is a leap of faith, like going to church in a style and color you’ve never worn before and knowing you’ll be front and center. Remember dear Rhoda the fact that YOU love it and that you feel it speaks for you is all that matters! It’s loveliness is a bonus, yes? 🙂

  32. I love the new design, Rhoda! It is clean, fresh, warm, and welcoming. Congrats!

  33. It is very beautiful! Love the new look!

  34. Love it, Love it, Love it!
    Sarah does such great work! Sarah gave iheartpurdythings a update recently and that is one talented girl I would recommend. Your new look is fab and I do like the larger pictures and your inspiration of the fern. Of course best of all is what you share on your blog, you.

  35. Oh, it’s pretty, Rhoda! And still looks like “you”. Just noticing the beadboard accents up above the comment form, smile.

  36. LOVE it! 😀 So fresh and tidy and clean and just wonderful! Congratulations. I love visiting with you over coffee every day, now I’ll enjoy it even more. Bless you. You have a great heart. Hugs from Canada. 🙂

  37. So pretty and fresh, love the ferns, it is still very much you!

  38. Love it!! So fresh and clean! Great job!

  39. Becky in 'Bama says:

    Weeeee! looks very fresh and clean. Request: can we see some updated photos of your kitchen? I cannot believe that you’ve not ‘tweaked’ it some from the original set up (have you rearranged the decor on the open shelves?). I am CONSTANTLY rearranging the pottery I have on my open hutch in my dining area, so I have to believe you do the same. 🙂

  40. Love it–very fresh, as so many have already pointed out! I had mine re-done lately, and love the cleaner look. (My 53 year-old self ants to believe the “youthfulness” will rub off.)

  41. Very Nice! Looks great on my PC but a little confusing on iphone. Replay boxes are a little pale. Overall, very nice.

  42. I love it Rhoda! It’s clean, feminine and elegant and is a great representation of you and what your blog is about.

    If I have any suggestion at all it would be maybe switch the ferns so that the one on the right doesn’t block the icons and it would help to fill in the white space on the left a bit.

    I have a question…I’ve recently added galleries for various projects but can’t figure out a way to have a description on the bottom of each thumbnail. I really like the way your’s looks in your DIY gallery. Can you tell me how you achieved that?

    Thanks so much!

    • HI, Doreen, I used a plugin called Wall Grid Gallery for those galleries. It was a bit of a problem to get it all installed correctly, I had to email the designer, but once in, it works great. There are several plugins that do this too.

  43. It looks absolutely GORGEOUS Rhoda! I love it!

  44. Rhoda, it looks GREAT! Still totally “you” but it’s everything it sounds you hoped for – clean, classic, and it’s still representative of your brand. I love it!

  45. Beautiful Rhoda!! Great work.

  46. I love the new blog layout! You can see a lot more information on the front page. It is much easier to navigate!

  47. The jury is still out. I agree with the others — the old blog looked like you – bright, cheerful and real. New one, a little too generic. Still have tons of ads popping up and they really distract the reader. (I know they are important, but just saying…)

  48. Rhoda, So sorry but I am not fond of the new look. I understand that you need the ads but the first thing I see instead of the blog name and logo are 2 strips of beadboard on either side with an off-center popup. The print in the ad is brighter than anything else on the screen. I think it has less personality than the old one. I hate to say anything that isn’t complimentary but I think you wanted honest feedback. I know that your blog will of course still be great.

  49. You know, if there’s anything I’ve learned in blogging, it’s that you can’t please everyone. I know that there are many of you who like my old design better and that’s fine. You’ll get used to the new look just as I’ve gotten used to this new one too. I think this new design does still very much capture me and who I am and I like the cleaner look. The ads are exactly where they were in my old blog design, all that’s changed is the layout. I wanted a change and I think it was time for a change and I’m very happy with the new look and layout. You’ll all get used to it as well!

    Thanks to those of you who love it as much as I do, I appreciate all of your comments!

  50. Well, the jury is out on ease of use…I really found your old sit VERY easy to navigate, so I’ll have to scoot around this. I’m glad you’re happy with the new design as I don’t think you’re going to change back based on any comment here! 🙂 It’s your blog and you seem to have grown it pretty well all these years so kudos. I’m just hoping the content won’t change to boring a and corporate as you’re the second blog I ever visited and I come everyday.
    I do miss the pic clips showing the latest posts clearly and up-front and can’t find your archives section. Hope it’s still there because while I ADORE your new house there’s still so much to leart from your old one! I’ll like larger pics, but bigger than my screen isn’t so great and it seems to take forever to download that one pic. I tend to skip blogs that take too long to download with one exception and I don’t read hers unless I have a lot of time. Change is hard for some of us.

    • Hi, Teresa, everything is still here, Archives, Categories, all of that. Things just moved from the right sidebar to the left, but you should find it all with no problem. I don’t think this design should load any slower than my old one either. Hang in there!

  51. I thought your old design was great but I’m liking the clean simplicity of this one too. I find it a little harder to navigate but every blog has it’s only navigational style and if we’re interested enough in the content, we’ll figure out how to navigate the site. This new design certainly will not scare me away Rhoda!

  52. Lovely new design. Well done!

  53. Congrats on the redesign, Rhoda! I know how much work goes into that.

    My comment would be that it’s harder to figure out what your blog is about for new readers now that the little pictures are gone from the header. I need to update my header to reflect more interior design myself.

    I would make the green for the subheadline a little darker so that it’s easier to read.

    Great new look, very sophisticated. Congrats again!

  54. Hi Rhoda…I love your new re-design. I may be in the market for one myself. Just a mini-facelift and fixing some issues that I have on my blog. Thanks for the tip on the Wall Grid plug in – I need this. Hope it doesn’t give me any problems!



  55. I have been on holiday in Australia and just catching up on by favourite blogs. I was excited to hop over and see what you had done. It is good to update and refresh your look just as you do your home Rhoda and I love the new look, I am sure your readers will too. I think it is nice to keep things simple and clean as you have done here.

    Lee 🙂

  56. Looks good! Clean, bright and crisp.

  57. I love, it, it completely fits you. Thanks for being you and all that you do, you’re a true inspiration .

  58. Anne Boykin says:

    Hi Rhoda, Your new design is fresh and I love it! I know it’s a tough decision to change it but you “done good”.

  59. Just popped over from the Ugly Duckling House blog and started clicking around. I’ve already bookmarked your blog and am going to HD today to frame my bathroom mirror!

  60. The new design is very pretty, but there is something in my head (maybe it’s my left-handedness) that keeps me from liking ads, etc. on the left-hand side of the page, with the blog text way over on the right-hand side. The ad space is so large it shifts everything too far to the right.

    In addition, the boxes for leaving a comment are transparent; you have to click around to even find them.

    All that said, the content is still very engaging, so I will continue to read religiously!

    • Thanks, Carol for the feedback. The content area is actually much larger than my old one was. The ads are just on the left now instead of right, but I now have room for much larger pics, which I’m really happy about. I don’t see the problem with the content box. When I click comments it opens a blank box to type in, the letters are sort of gray until you click submit and then they turn black. Unless your computer is showing a different look than mine, that’s what I see.

  61. Maybe it’s my computer but the pictures to the left of each day’s posting is squished completely flat lengthwise and totally un-viewable. It does look clean and fresh though overall. Maybe a little more green in it? I love green. You can never have too much green. Well maybe you can, and I wouldn’t be a good judge of that then because I’m too biased towards the color! 🙂

  62. I love your new look!

  63. I love your blog and how your warm personality and creativity comes through in your writing and the photos you post. The new masthead seems somewhat generic to me, kind of like clip art. I really like the one you had before, it was unique to you because it was photos you took of your belongings, ant it showed your style. I just wanted to weigh in. Hope you can make some of the type darker and easier to read.

  64. All I need to see is your smiling beautiful face up there and it looks perfect and like home to me! Congrats on your lovely new design! I am so happy for you and where you are on your journey in life. You are and always will be in my heart.

    Love you,

  65. Karen Davis says:

    Sorry, but I’m not a fan, it looks very faded, I loved the original look, it “show cased” you, that’s all I need to say, but I am your fan, and find your life an inspiration, you should write a biography some day. Sincerely, Karen

  66. Hi Rhoda; now you know in Richmond we don’t like much change – how many Richmonders does it take to change a light bulb, ten – one to do it and nine to talk about how good the old one was —-however, I turned fifty last week and have made the choice to embrace change and go with the flow! It makes life much easier – you know the mechanics of what makes it work better, so well done! We’ll get used to it and pretty soon this new one will be the old one 🙂

  67. Congratulations on your new blog design. It is streamlined and nice. So many of my favorite bloggers are changing their blog designs and I guess I will get used to it. But I loved the one you had previously. But if you are happy, I am happy.

  68. Well I am loving the change! Anytime you can get larger photos on a blog, I say go for it! That is what sold me on the template I purchased. (And I am always a fan of a left sidebar over one on the right.) So this looks great to me. And for some reason, leaving a comment on your previous design took my little computer forever to go through, and this one is much much faster…don’t know if that is due to your new blog design or something on this end. Which ever, it is definitely better. I think you and your tech girl did great!

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+Rhoda Southern Hospitality