Getting Handsy At Haven

As excited as I was to soak up as much bloggy business and brand-collaborating knowledge as I could at Haven, I was also looking forward to some of the more “hands on” design sessions. While I’m wishing I’d checked out some of the cool painting sessions, I did attend “Let’s Case This Joint” with Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl and Sandra from Sawdust Girl and “Hands On Design Advice: Layer by Layer, Step by Step” with Emily A. Clark from Emily A. Clark, Kristin Jackson from The Hunted Interior, and Sarah Macklem from The Yellow Cape Cod. So I thought I’d share some of the useful tips I picked up, along with my most exciting Haven moment.

In the Let’s Case This Joint session, Brittany and Sandra shared some great tips, while giving us the opportunity to get hands-on with some tools, like a miter saw and brad nailer.

Haven 2013, sandra from Sawdust Girl and Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl

These were two great tips that stood out to me:

– Make your marks with a utility knife instead of a pencil because the blade is more precise.

– If your trim piece slips as you’re nailing it in, use a rubber mallet and a piece of scrap wood (to act as a buffer) to try to gently tap it into place.

But I think the single most awesome bit of information I gleaned from the session was to make templates out of pieces of crown moulding to make your cuts easier. See Exhibit A:

crown moulding templates


Later that day, and my last session of Haven 2013, was the Hands-On Design session. I was super excited about this session because I feel like this is where I need the most help around my house. I have plenty of knick knacks (and am constantly hunting for more), but my styling ability is weak. Emily, Kristin, and Sarah were full of great tips and advice for decorating. Here are some of my favorites:

– A rug is not a coffee table holder. A rug should section off your room and pull it together, or create rooms within a room.

– Your furniture doesn’t have to match. As long as you keep scale intact, you can mix and match your pieces.

– If your furniture does match, break it up with different accessories, like differently-patterned pillows, a throw, etc.

– Group your collections together, don’t spread them out.

– To create a more adventurous display, try an asymmetrical arrangement, with items of varying heights.

My favorite part of the Hands-On Design session was at the end, when Emily, Kristin and Sarah challenged the group to put their new-found knowledge to the test in an intense, 3-minute head-to-head styling challenge. Naturally, my hand was the first to shoot up when they asked for volunteers.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t super intense, but there was a 3-minute time constraint to work against!

There was a nightstand and console table; the other contestant got to the console table first, so I had to style the nightstand.  We had an awesome stash of stuff to choose from, like a lamp, globes, candles and pillar holders, books, boxes, faux flowers (we pretended they were real), art, and an array of trinkets.

Haven 2013 Hands-On Design Challenge

The three minutes flew by, but I enjoyed every second, snatching up different pieces, trying them out, putting them back, etc.

When time was up, they threw us a little curveball – we had to explain our design, and WHY we picked what we picked! Well, immediately my copywriting wheels started turning, and I created a fun little story for my nightstand.

Haven 2013, styling a nightstand

The awesome, amazing Lauren of The Thinking Closet captured some of it on video, but I can’t figure out how to upload it right now. So, here’s the short version:

– The Heavens to Betsy print is so cute an appropriate since this is the bedroom: sleeping, dreaming, heavens, you get the picture.

– Of course you need an alarm clock, but why not prop it up on something interesting. I probably would have gone for books, but saw this cool wooden disc and liked the natural element it added.

– Also gotta have some fresh flowers!

– The trinket box could hold chapstick or jewelry or other small pieces you want by your bedside, but don’t want rolling around or out in plain sight. And the book underneath it might be whatever you’re reading at the moment, to wind down before you go to sleep.


Well, I guess the crowd liked my style and my story because… I WON! Holy cow, how cool is that?

What did I win? A gift card to Lulu & Georgia. I’d never heard of this shop before, but let me tell you, they have some super cool pieces! I can’t wait to pick out something unique and fun, and then style it in our home.

What an awesome way to end an incredible weekend!

Haven 2013 Hands-On Design Session; Emily Clark, Kristin Jackson, Sarah Mecklem

9 thoughts on “Getting Handsy At Haven

  1. deranchification

    Emily, it was great meeting you at Haven! Loved this recap – it is so fun reading about sessions you didn’t go to. That hands-on design session sounds cool – love your nightstand styling!

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