Interview with Rachel Shingleton, Pencil Shavings Studio
The end of the year is always a time of reflection for me, and a time to be thankful for what life had thrown our way in the past year. And let me assure you dear readers, it is not lost on me that I am truly lucky to be part of the design community, which thrives on mutual support and creative partnerships resulting in creative ideas and inspiration meant to be shared and enjoyed by all. A recent example is the collaboration between blogger Rachel Shingleton, the creative voice behind Pencil Shavings Studio, which originally began as a colorful lifestyle blog. Rachel's background and education is in graphic design, and she has been working in the creative sector in fashion, product design, photography, etc. for over ten years. She lives in Oklahoma City with her husband, their two boys and an extremely naughty Chihuahua named Nickels.
Vera: Can you tell us what your overall goals were when envisioning this make-over of your family room? The room feels so fresh and modern, yet also very comfy and inviting - where did you get your design inspiration from?
Rachel: Our family room is the hub of the home and so I wanted it to be a place we could relax but still maintain our sense of style. This room has to work hard for us between kids, dog, and all the life that happens here. I’ve been particularly in love with that pale blue color lately and when I saw the rug at market, I knew that was going to set the tone for the entire room. I feel like it can aesthetically go so many different directions. It’s calming but still different enough from your typical neutral sofa color.
It’s also a difficult room to lay out due to the enormous windows, and the way the traffic flow works between the entryway and the kitchen. There’s this odd diagonal thing that happens in the way you pass from room to room that has to be taken into account.
I’ve always been the kind of person who pulls inspiration from all different sources. Fashion, typography, paper goods, photography, business cards from cute little cafes, and peeks into local shops — I’m like a sponge when it comes to absorbing new inspiration. Most of the time, traveling is where that inspiration strikes best because I’m getting out of my comfort zone, away from the doldrums of everyday life. I’m endlessly inspired by seeing how different people live and I feel like I’ve got this insatiable curiosity to see more. Travel inspires how I want to live; it’s about a certain feeling you get by a happy experience and figuring out a way to make it a permanent part of your life.
V: Many people get so daunted when selecting a key piece of furniture (such as a dining table, a new sofa or.... a sectional)? How did you go through this process with Calico? Any advice for nervous furniture buyers?
R: I think picking out a sofa or sectional is one of the most stressful purchases someone can make - and that’s not even accounting for if you’re having to make that purchase with your spouse. Case in point: my husband is 6’4” and I’m 5’7”. Furniture fits each of us differently depending on the size and scale.
No matter what your budget is, it’s an expensive proposition that has to meet a lot of different needs: comfort, style, durability, plus the fact that you’re probably not going to be swapping it out every year or so. It’s got to be a flexible piece that can withstand the whims of the owner, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves to redecorate frequently (raises hand).
V: Determining what the ultimate function of the piece will be is crucial. Is it a room that gets frequent use or is it more of a once-every-now-and-then kind of space? Will there be pets, children, neighbor kids, etc.? Where does your style fit into those parameters?
R: Knowing how your lifestyle will inform your design is crucial. I had a rough idea of the style I wanted and how I wanted it to function, and from there I was able to learn about all the different options that Calico offered. I loved that everything was completely customizable. It’s about as effortless as it gets for a custom furniture project.
I also think that people are very much afraid of making a mistake, so they tend to go safe on their color options. And that makes me sad - you’ve got an amazing opportunity to load your home with personality and style — so take a leap of faith, and get expert advice if you feel like you need a little help.
R: Crypton is my go-to as a designer. I live with it in every room of our house practically, and I am always able to confidently specify it for my clients too. Crypton is the ultimate mix of form and function - there’s every imaginable texture, colors, and prints to choose from and it’s made to put up with every possible scenario life can throw at it. And I’ve seen all those scenarios firsthand in my own home. This particular fabric on our sectional is crazy soft. It has such a beautiful velvety hand to it, and so far it’s worn perfectly.
V: I absolutely LOVE the contrast trim on the Calico sectional, it gives the piece such a “custom couture” look. What other decorating tips or tricks could you share with us to elevate a room from blah and off-the-rack to beautifully and individually decorated?
R: Me too! I LOVE a contrast welt and I’ve frequently joked that I’d contrast welt my children if I could! There’s just something about that little extra visual oomph that gives another layer of personality and style to the sectional. It’s a bit of extra tailoring and detail that goes a long way (think side stripes on a pair of tuxedo pants that make your legs look a mile long).
Sometimes a contrast welted piece can feel a tad formal or traditional, especially if you go with a more traditional color scheme. But it can also come across as playful — especially if you end up going with something completely unexpected or patterned. In our space, the casual vibe of that Moroccan-inspired rug helps to keep it more.
V: Do you have any rules for mixing patterns and colors?
Find your inspiration for your color scheme first. A bold floral, for example, can inform the entire design direction and give you guidance on what other colorful pattern to pair with it. Pay attention to scale — if you’ve got one big pattern, pair it with something smaller and more delicate to help it harmonize effortlessly.
R: Since the holidays are so close, can you share with us a few holiday decorating dos and don'ts?
I tend to think there’s no such thing as don’ts when it comes to holiday decorating. I rarely do the same thing twice but I tend to try to find new ways to use the same things year after year. Do think outside the box and experiment with making your everyday things more magical. Maybe that’s with fairy lights, or filling your existing vases with teeny tiny ornaments. Be playful and joyful.
Favorite color combo: A cool paired with a hot.
The fabric you always come back to: Velvet
Favorite decorating rule to break: Mixing bold patterns and unexpected colors
No room is complete without.... the correct-sized rug.
Favorite design book: Domino’s Book of Decorating. It’s a decade old now, but still a go-to.
Best advice you've ever gotten: Pay attention to the details.
Dream project: Anything involving a crazy color
Biggest vice: Iced tea. And shoes. And also… fancy lamps.
I would NEVER … only use overhead lighting. ICK.