Rachel and Simon Shingleton met in first grade. They went to grade school and high school together and later fell in love while attending the same college. In 2008 they welcomed their son Jude into their Oklahoma City life. Rachel, a graphic designer, blogs about design, décor, and style at Pencil Shavings Studio and Simon works as a Realtor. In 2011 Rachel expanded her blog to include both a product line and an online shop. Then came a series of miscarriages. And with them the loss of hope of having another child. By this time Jude was six and Rachel had fallen in love with a vacation home on Lake Eufaula, a couple of hours from the city. A new build, it was a shell of a building, with walls and little else, but Rachel knew immediately the soaring ceilings and wide open floor plan would be perfect for hosting family gatherings. And she loved that the bedrooms were tucked away upstairs under the eaves. Though their family of three was not what Rachel and Simon had envisioned, they decided to buy the two-bedroom home. Then, the weekend the family moved in, Rachel noticed she felt funny.
On a whim she took a pregnancy test. It was positive. “I couldn’t believe that on the weekend we moved into a TWO-BEDROOM house it turned out we’d be adding another baby to the family,” Rachel shares. Now their family of four, with the addition of son Archer, enjoys weekends and summers at the lake in Carlton Landing. The cottage is located in a rural part of Oklahoma where the cell reception is spotty and there are no street lights, resulting in a night sky ablaze with stars. Rachel and family like swimming and kayaking and sharing meals with neighbors on the wooden boardwalk in front of their home until it’s too dark to see one’s fork and plate. But it’s the simple things they were craving when they bought the home that now mean the most, says Rachel: “the warmth of the sun on our backs at the lake, gently swinging on the porch in the breeze, the sound of the rain on the metal roof, and watching the way the water changes colors out on the lake.”
The family just finished their third summer on Lake Eufaula and Rachel says the house is only now starting to feel lived in. Though Rachel is quick to add she loves the gradual process of layering a home with authenticity. And why rush? The Shingleton vacation home is a place that invites one to move more slowly and with more intention. It may be that as Rachel takes her time transforming the home, it is in some way also transforming her. In 2015, after much introspection, Rachel decided to close her online shop. She did it to reduce her work hours, so she’d have more time with Archer. And because when she made a list of all the things that brought her joy, blogging and design were at the top, and running her online shop was at the bottom. Now in the midst of what she calls a creative sabbatical, Rachel is excited to see where her love of blogging, writing, designing, and interiors will take her. It’s what happens, writes poet Wendell Berry, when we “come into the peace of wild things…and into the presence of still water…For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” —Liberty