Summer Allen-Gibson of design is mine: Show & Tell Home Tour

Summer Allen-Gibson

Summer from design is mine

Today, we're having some more Show & Tell Home Tour fun. Baker, illustrator, and design blogger mama Summer Allen-Gibson of design is mine gives us a peek inside her colorful Portland home.

Come on inside...


Summer Allen-Gibson blogs at design is mine, a lovely ever-changing design blog that I started obsessing on over a year ago. Seriously, she finds the BEST STUFF. Stuff that is beautiful, unique, and inspiring to me on a daily basis. Stuff that is, often times, affordable! So, of course, I was thrilled when Summer agreed to take us behind the scenes of her blog and show us around her real life home. It's every bit as colorful and imaginative as I thought it might be. Summer proves that making a lively and comfortable home with young children under feet can be fun, inventive, and creative as can be. You're going to love all her artsy collections. Check it out.

  1. Tell us a little about your family and your home.

We live in a bright blue two-story house, built in 1904, in Portland, Oregon. Our household includes myself, my husband Daniel, and our two boys: Riley, who is 3, and London, who is 20 months.

front window

Summer's bright and cheerful home

2. How do you approach decorating in your home? What's the most important thing?

To me, the most important thing is having a warm and comfortable environment—the kind of place that really feels like home. I try to approach decorating with a creative and playful eye. Our home is filled with a lot of bright colors and kitschy decor. I love displaying collections of one-of-a-kind vintage items and silly treasures.

vintage art

Just one of Summer's vintage collections

The way a house looks is usually a reflection of the inhabiter's personality. I have never been into the look that includes too much catalog furniture and sparse walls. I like filling a home with pieces that have a history to them, things that make me smile. I am such a collector at heart—I collect artwork, vintage dishware, big-eyed paintings, owls, large letters, old cookbooks, bakeware, vintage Fisher Price items, Japanese toys, etcetera. My husband is obsessed with history and loves portraits from his favorite eras, so those can also be seen all around our house.

Vintage cameras, gifted from friends, and old airplane, found at an estate sale


Summer's love of color extends to her bookshelves

3. You have two small children. How does their STUFF influence the look and feel of your home?

Stuff is always a problem. Both of our sons have a massive amount of toys that seem to always be everywhere. Recently we turned our downstairs closet into a toy closet containing a couple of thrifted bookshelves which has helped the clutter quite a bit. Some of their toys I love the look of (all their vintage items, Yo Gabba Gabba merchandise, well-designed eco-friendly items), so I try to keep those set around for them to always be able to play with. We recently purchased a red and glass toy cabinet that I filled with some of our favorite collected toys, and I absolutely adore it.

vintage toys, cabinet

Toy collection (not just the kids')

4. Great design can be expensive. How do you get the most bang for your buck?

I am what one might call an obsessive thrifter. There are periods of time that I spend every weekend perusing local thrift stores and hitting up every estate sale in our area. The items in our house usually range from $1 to $20—we rarely spend more. I believe that if you have the patience, beautiful and unique pieces can be found for extremely cheap.


A mix of type, letterpress Etsy artwork, original illustrations, and random found art

5. Tell us about one DIY project you have taken on recently and love.

I haven't been able to take up any DIY projects recently due to a lack of time, but I have many plans for this year. Once spring comes, I have a plan to finally create my dream garden. We have two large patches of land alongside our driveway and I cannot wait to dig everything up and start fresh. My husband and I are going to build raised beds and have rows and rows of fresh vegetables, herbs, and berries. I want to finally be able to pick the majority of produce from our own yard.


Summer's favorite spot, at her outdoor-turned-indoor table and chairs set from IKEA

kids cookware

Thrifted kids kitchenwares

6. Do you have a favorite piece of furniture or decorative item in your home? Tell us about this item.

It probably seems silly, but I am completely attached to this giraffe wall hanging that I purchased from a thrift store in Ventura, California back when I was 16. It was embroidered in what I assume to be the 50's or 60's by a woman by the name of Evelyn (same name as my grandmother). I don't know what it is about it that I love, but it never fails to make me smile. I will probably hold onto it until the day I die.

giraffe embroidery

Thrifted embroidered giraffe wall hanging

7. You're a baker, an illustrator, and a design and food blogger. What household chore do you tend to back burner most so you can tend to your creative life?

I must admit, there are quite a few things that I frequently put off. Laundry is definitely one of them. Dirty clothes always seem to be piled up, and I can't ever seem to catch up with all of them. Also, the four of us all sleep up in our attic, which is basically a large room (the kids' space) attached to a tiny "sitting room" (with only enough room for our bed and an old record table). Almost all of our time is spent downstairs in the main part of the house, so our rooms tend to get ignored when it comes to the usual cleaning. I almost always feel behind on housework.

8. What is your most important everyday ritual at home?

Dinnertime. I usually always cook dinner, and we sit together at the table listening to records (or sometimes just leaving cartoons on) and enjoying each other's company. Our three year-old usually tells us silly stories and our youngest sings songs while he eats. There is usually a lot of laughter and enjoyment. Even if we just order food in, we sit at the table—I feel like it is an important time to spend together.

dining room, vintage

Dining area and Summer's favorite $15 thrifted desk


The kitchen, where the ritual of good food happens daily

9. In your home, what is one indulgence you give into?

Good food. In our house, food is a very important part of everyday life. To me, my day would not be complete without some fancy cheese and chocolate. All of my favorite rituals include some sort of food or drink, whether it's drinking my morning cup of coffee at our kitchen table or sharing sweets on the floor with the children.

dining room

Pretty yellow dining room

A house full of color and collections

Martha Stewart puffy kit

Pink puffy, handmade from a Martha Stewart kit

10. What are your favorite stores to shop for home?

I am a complete sucker for every household item that Anthropologie sells. It's one of those stores that I walk into a find myself dreaming of living in. Although their items are usually a bit pricey, they have great deals in their sale area. As I mentioned before, I also love thrift stores and estate sales (and flea markets, although there are not very good ones in Portland.) And, of course, IKEA. Fabulous Scandinavian design at cheap prices is always appreciated. 

11. What Home & Garden blogs or websites inspire you the most? 

There are so many! Grace at Design Sponge features some amazing house tours. Design to Inspire, also an endless amount of eye-candy. 

Others I adore:


Thank you, Summer. Your home is awesome.

Summer blogs daily at design is mine (don't miss its spin off Free Design where Summer posts the FREE design goodies she finds). She also blogs regularly on her food blog Bread & Honey.

Photos above by Summer and Alicia Lynn Carrier.


Don't miss our previous Show & Tell Home Tours:


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