Home Decorating Rachel Shingleton’s House Rules: 13 Inspiring Lessons To Live By

Rachel Shingleton’s House Rules: 13 Inspiring Lessons To Live By

Pencil Shavings Studio founder Rachel Shingleton is the consummate multi-hyphenate: a product designer-decorator-graphic-designer-and-blogger based in Oklahoma City, Rachel brings a cheerful, colorful approach to all aspects of her work. After studying graphic design, Rachel worked in branding and eventually launched her own paper goods and home decor business. In 2008, she fell into blogging and found that her readers were always interested in posts on interior design, a topic that had always been a personal passion. After her second child was born, Rachel started to feel the itch to do something different and more permanent, which led to her current creative incarnation as an interior designer. In the latest installment of our decorator profiles, we asked Rachel to share her House Rules:

“Even a calming bedroom or a tiny guest bath needs its moment. You need to look for a showstopper for every room—sometimes it’s wallpaper, other times it’s a rug or a piece of art.”

“I use Pinterest a ton, but there is something so deliciously tactile about samples pinned to an actual, physical moodboard that you can touch and see. It’s really gratifying for me and my clients—and you can instantly see what works and what doesn’t.

To make my moodboards, I use giant bulletin boards. I print out photos of furniture and pin up fabric swatches and rug samples. This is especially important for projects where we’re starting from scratch.”

“Shooting photos of my own house and other peoples’ homes helps me think about how a space comes together. I ask myself, ‘How is this going to look on camera?’ What looks great in-person can fall flat in two dimensions. Looking at photos can reveal what we need to do to make it pop. The answer is almost always to add contrast: A colorful piece of art or something else that catches your eye.

My husband is a realtor and he uses the same tactic with his clients. When he is getting a house ready to sell, he’ll tell the sellers to snap a few photos of their home. There’s always something they never noticed that they want to change before they show their homes. We get blind to what we’re around every day, but the camera does not lie.”

“White is my favorite neutral. Ever since art school, I have been interested in how color pairs with white. White is clean and graphic—it gives a point of comparison and really helps you see a color’s true essence. I’ll use different whites in different settings: Maybe a true white-white in a more graphic room or if someone wants an English farmhouse feel I’ll go more creamy.” Some of my favorite whites are: Sherwin-Williams’s ‘Alabaster’ and from Benjamin Moore ‘Steam,’ ‘Pale Oak,’ and the classic ‘Decorator’s White.”

“While I do favor white, I am also interested in finding colors that can act as a neutral, like a dusty gray-blue or a navy. Treating a color like it is a neutral is a little unexpected, but colors can function the same way a beige or gray can in a room.”

I will forever love stripes: They are so graphic and bold. Stripes can be playful or sophisticated; they can be nautical or preppy—there are so many variables, but there’s always a stripe that will work.

Plus, stripes are the easiest ways to add pattern to a room, say with a rug or a throw pillow. The trick is getting the right scale for your space, which can take a little experimenting.”

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Rugs are almost always the first thing in my room designs. Of course, I want to make sure the function is there before anything else; then we focus on aesthetics. First, I ask, ‘How do we need the space to flow; what size we chose?’ Next, it’s about use: For a family that has everyone running around, the rug needs to be something easy to clean. In a bedroom, we might want something soft underfoot for when they get out of bed in the morning.

A rug also needs to be beautiful. I am always a fan of a focal point rug. Is there ever a time not to use one? The last thing I want is plain, boring carpet—even if it’s just a sisal, I want an interesting texture or weave. With rugs, my attitude is, ‘Let’s go big or go home.’”

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“I wanted to experiment with wallpaper in my own home, so we went for a bold pattern in our entryway. I love how graphic the pattern is—and I had fun pairing it with a rug from Mark D. Sike’s collection for Annie Selke. Beyond making a big statement, that space is the hub of the house: all the major rooms flow off of that entryway, so no matter where you are, you get a little glimpse of patterns. I love those little moments of visual delight.”

“What people often notice first about my rooms is color, but I also like to layer as many textures as possible. In this bedroom the blue palette is prominent, but there’s texture in the grasscloth on the wall and in the Annie Selke flokati rug.

“Our master bedroom is a quieter space with white walls, white furniture, and a calm blue and white rug. I purposely keep the base layer neutral to keep it calm and to give me the flexibility to change my look. I love playing around with the bedding seasonally for different styles. ”

“Everyone asks me about the paint color in our living room. In my former home, the previous homeowner had painted everything that distinct aqua. I loved it: I even used it as our wedding color! When we moved into our current house, I was dead set on recreating the color. I sampled so many aqua paints, but they were too loud or too gray. I took the paint back to Sherwin-Williams three times trying to get it right. Finally, I grabbed what I had around the house and re-mixed it myself until I got the color right. I have one teeny tiny pot left for touch-up.”

“I have always loved color. I’m interested in how colors relate to one another. The mood in a room can instantly shift by adding a different color. Personally, I gravitate towards blue and greens, but I am most interested in contrast: that’s what makes or breaks a space.

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A brief dash of something unexpected like a bold bolster pillow or a bright yellow frame adds an extra layer of interest. This corner of my formal living room was very calm until I moved the tomato-red bench over. That zip of color gives the room energy.”

“Redecorating doesn’t mean having to buy everything brand new. At my own house, I rearrange furniture all the time (and I’ve been doing it since I was a kid!). With my clients, I love to look around in their closets and see what they have that we can use. I joke that my secret sauce is seeing things with a fresh perspective. Sometimes just rearranging things, playing with composition is all you need for a new look.”

For more inspiration, see our other Designer’s House Rules:

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Kathy Booker May 28, 2020 at 4:33 pm

I like the way you used the colors in the rooms.

Erin June 1, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Thanks Kathy! Rachel really has a way with color!

McArthur May 28, 2020 at 7:25 pm

I love the visual delight idea! Can you tell me where to get the tomato chair?!?

Erin June 1, 2020 at 12:25 pm

Thank you! As for the chair, if a product is not tagged in the “Shop the Look” section it is not ours. You may be able to find it on Rachel Shingleton’s blog (linked in this post) or you may be able to ask her via Instagram, @pencilshavings!

Jo Ann Haines May 28, 2020 at 10:20 pm

Where can I find the strip chandelier in the foyer

Erin June 1, 2020 at 12:25 pm

Hi Jo Ann! Unfortunately, if a product is not tagged in the “Shop the Look” section it is not ours. You may be able to find it on Rachel Shingleton’s blog (linked in this post) or you may be able to ask her via Instagram, @pencilshavings!


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