One of Rachel‘s mottos is “I’ve never met a color I didn’t love.” With one peek of her home, I know she’s not kidding. It’s a bright, cheerful space that makes me smile, and I know it must have the same effect on her family. And at the risk of getting too deep, I imagine it helps her stay positive when life doesn’t exactly go the way she’s been dreaming. Does your home do that, too? I hope it does.
There were a few times when I found myself pointing to something in her photos that I thought was super cute, only to find that it’s available in her shop! How wonderful and empowering it must be to live among your own art and makes. Friends, I’m so happy to introduce you to Rachel and her color-burst home!
Q: Please tell us all about your family.
A: There’s three humans and two canines in our little family. I’m Rachel Shingleton, and I’m a blogger/designer/shopkeeper at Pencil Shavings Studio. My husband is Simon, and he’s a realtor here in OKC. Our son Jude is a six year old kindergartener, and we like to say that he’s running for mayor of life. He’s never met a stranger, and is the absolute joy of our lives. And rounding out the craziness are two chihuahua puppies that we just added to the family back in October.
We’ve always lived in Oklahoma City (with a yearlong stint in California for me in college), and we grew up together in the same school starting in first grade. We didn’t start dating until our senior year of college at the University of Oklahoma.
Q: How did you find your current home?
A: Our house was built in the late 1960s and has four bedrooms, two and a half baths on a cul de sac with tons of mature trees. We’ve been here now for almost six years. I walked into this house on a dark night in February of 2008 and I knew immediately it was the one for us. It had been purchased by a house flipper who was working on some jaw-dropping homes in the fancier part of town, and had picked this home to be their own. I knew her taste level and the amazing work she’d done on those million dollar houses, and so with a gutted kitchen and bathrooms, no electricity, and a ripped out master bedroom, I was in love.
Now that being said, it took Simon a solid three months before he caught the vision, too; he needed to see the final product. On Mother’s Day of that year, we decided to make an offer which was quickly accepted. Even now when I pull into the driveway, I’m amazed that I actually get to live here. The neighborhood is wonderful with some really fantastic people (not to mention some fun events, too), and being situated on a cul de sac with practically no traffic is ideal with Jude. I have zero qualms about him playing in the front yard – a far cry from our first house that seemed like it was the busiest street corner in town.
We moved in when he was nine months old, and in my stupidity I decided that it was a brilliant idea to throw my girlfriend a bridal shower the following week. That was one way to get motivated to unpack! We still chuckle about how dumb of an idea that was. (Spoiler alert: the bridal shower went off fine, but still. Don’t do what I did.)
Q: What are your goals aesthetically with this home? Where do you find the most inspiration?
A: In the beginning, we were still kind of newlyweds and figuring out our style. In the past couple of years we’ve been able to hone in on how we want to live aesthetically, and have been taking steps to make that happen. In our first house, we went kind of crazy with paint and color, which I don’t regret at all. But this house has been about refining that sense of color and style in many ways. I grew up in a crazy colorful house, and I can’t live without it now. Luckily Simon feels the same way…mostly.
We find inspiration in travel, and I’m a total magazine junkie. I was reading House Beautiful when I was 14 and begging my mom to let me redesign the house. Her sage response: “When you grow up and have a house, then you can decorate it however you want.”
The biggest struggle I have as a designer (not just for interiors) is reining in my design ADD. By deciding what elements of style are absolutely essential to us, we’re able to better choose things for the long run. Over the years I’m learning to make less impulse purchases – Hello, Target and all your cute accessories! – and picking things that we truly love and can’t live without.
We also have had to switch up some of the more traditional elements that the previous owner put in place. The paint and cabinetry in the kitchen, while beautiful, was very French country, and wasn’t us at all. And the entire house was painted builder beige, which drove me bonkers. I’m on a personal mission to banish the beige from our lives! I want the house to feel polished, colorful, but still somewhat casual.
Q: Do you specifically decorate with your child’s taste and joy in mind? Does it ever drive you batty to see all his stuff in an otherwise gorgeous room, or are you good with this stage in your life?
A: Absolutely, I decorate with him in mind. I want to have everything be kid-friendly but without sacrificing our sense of style. To some extent, you can’t avoid the plastic kid toys and junk, but I don’t think you have to give in to those foam square mats on the floor and letting the kid stuff overrun your lives. I don’t want anything in our house to be too precious that we can’t enjoy it. I remember as a kid, playing at the neighbor kid’s house and not being allowed to sit on her bed. That kind of blew my mind – and I don’t want Jude to feel that way about our house.
Right now our big toy issue is Legos. They are EVERYWHERE. But again, I can’t get too upset about them. Jude loves them and it thrills my creative heart to see him come up with some really amazing designs all on his own.
Q: What makes you love where you live?
A: Oklahoma City has evolved significantly in the past ten years. I’m in an ever-growing love affair with this town, and I can’t wait to see how it continues to develop. Design is starting to really matter to Oklahomans and we have a fantastic thriving community of fellow creatives. I’m amazed how many fellow design bloggers there are here!
It’s inexpensive to live here and you can have a really nice house for what seems like a steal compared to other cities. That being said, the public schools in OKC proper aren’t all that great, so we see many people moving to the suburbs for the better schools or choosing private education. I don’t see us ever moving to the ‘burbs — we love city living far too much, and if it weren’t for how close and great Jude’s school is now, we’d probably move further downtown because we love how it’s developing into this thriving, exciting community.
I have this dream of living in a cute little downtown building that we’ve converted into a live/work space and riding my bike everywhere. Maybe someday?
Q: Do you work from home? How do you balance your life as a mom and your time for yourself? What tricks or decor solutions have you implemented to help you in that area?
A: All I’ve ever known is home-based business. Once I graduated from the graphic design program at the University of Oklahoma, I went to work for a small apparel company as an in-house graphic designer. And it was literally in-house: in MY house.
From there I went on to build my own graphic design business. When Jude was born, I put the halt on all work because I literally had no idea how I would work and be a mom, too. But creative passion kind of won out in the end. I discovered design blogs, and that’s how Pencil Shavings Studio was born. I began to hone in on designing paper goods and things that really lit my fire, and less corporate work. From there, it’s evolved to opening my shop and designing a line of paper goods, tech accessories, and home decor.
I’m far more organized in my business than I ever was pre-Jude, simply because I have to be. In the beginning, I structured my days around his sleep schedule, and luckily he was always a good napper. Now that he’s in school full time, it’s far easier to be structured about it, but I still struggle with shutting everything off once school gets out at 3:00 pm.
The other thing that’s helped me stay structured was to get my business out of the kitchen and living room. The holiday season in 2012 was my breaking point because the business had taken over everything. There were zero life/work boundaries there, and we were swimming in Pencil Shavings Studio products being shipped out the door in the holiday rush. I vowed to get it out of our main traffic areas, and moved everything into the upstairs bonus room and one of the spare bedrooms.
I also feel more in my work and creative zone when I go upstairs as opposed to when I just plopped down at the kitchen table. It was far too easy to get distracted by housework or dishes.
Q: When does your home work best? Do you love it most when it’s pristine or lived-in at the end of the day?
A: With the amount of hours I work, I simply have to have help with keeping up the housework. My housekeeper comes once a week and she’s an absolute jewel. I find I’m becoming more of a clean fanatic.
I love how much light we get in this house. The windows are enormous, and it’s especially beautiful early in the morning and in that golden hour of the evening. I love laying out on a blanket in the backyard reading a book while Jude swings on the swing set.
Q: What has been the absolute best thing about living with your son? What do you already miss as he gets older?
A: Every stage of his life seems to be my favorite. But I do miss his babyhood. We were watching videos of him the other night on my iPhone, and Simon and I realized that little squeaky Mickey Mouse voice has already changed in just a year or two. Little turns of phrases and funny statements make us smile. Things like, “Last one outside is a deviled egg!”
But one of the best things is getting to show him things and take him places. He never ceases to under-react to things, and it’s thrilling to see life through his eyes.
Q: What do you hope he remembers about this home? His childhood? And you as his mom?
A: I hope he remembers how much fun we have had here. The days when we hang out in the window seat upstairs and read books with big bowls of popcorn, and chase the dogs in the backyard. I hope he remembers how beautiful the snow is when it falls on the house, and how good it feels to snuggle in the big bed watching cartoons.
Oh goodness, now I’m tearing up.
Wrestling with his daddy, chatting with the neighbor friends over the back fence, swimming in the neighborhood pool. The golden hour of early summer evenings when everything is awash with Oklahoma sunsets. The time we found chickens in the front yard, or when we rode bicycles down the street.
Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…
A: I wish I would’ve known how strongly I felt about his early childhood passing once he started kindergarten. It occurred to me almost instantly as I took him to school that first day that his babyhood was totally over. I know it sounds obvious, but those lazy mornings of watching cartoons in the big bed or leisurely going to the zoo because we had all that free, unstructured time is over. We are now totally locked into the school system, and there are days when I wish I could just keep him home with me because I miss that time.
It went by in a flash. It’s just like they say: The days are long but the years are short.
I think I’ve been a little emotional about it all too since we’ve struggled with infertility over the past couple of years. When Jude was a baby, I had to have my colon removed due to ulcerative colitis, and we knew that my fertility had a 50/50 change of being impacted. After several miscarriages now, I’m kind of on the fence about how far to pursue getting pregnant again. I envisioned this house’s four bedrooms full of little ones when we first bought it, and so part of me mourns the loss of that dream, too.
So I’m learning to take every single day with my precious boy as an absolute gift. He is the miracle in our lives.
Rachel, thank you so much for this bright tour. I choked up at your last answer. Please know I’m sending you all the good thoughts I have, and know my sweet readers are doing the same. Hang in there.
Friends, hands down one of my favorite things about Rachel’s home is her blue island in her kitchen. BLUE! Have you ever been tempted to go off the all-white or wood path when it comes to major sections of your home? Inspire us with your adventuresome decision, please!