Playful, girly and kitsch, pink is suddenly everywhere, thanks to the upcoming release of Barbie, the movie starring Margot Robbie in the title role, with Ryan Gosling as her faithful companion, Ken.
Preview shots of the film’s candy pink and magenta set may have some reaching for their sunglasses, but the hashtag ‘Barbiecore’ has attracted nearly 500 million views on TikTok. As an interior designer and guest judge on hit TV shows including the BBC’s Interior Design Masters, I encourage everyone to liberate themselves from the ‘beige-box home’.
Lockdown changed our relationship with our homes. Being forced to spend so much time confined within four walls made people realise how joyless neutral palettes can be. Now, thankfully, no one seems to care much about having the ‘right’ shade of grey on the walls.
People have got over their fear of making bolder choices.
In my own home — a late Victorian farmhouse in East Sussex — I’ve just had a new kitchen installed, with soft pink cabinets. The front door is a welcoming pastel pink, and there are pink accents everywhere, from a deep-rose stair runner to the bright pinks in the wallpaper in the office.
Amy Griffith’s six-bedroom, seven bathroom Essex home is known by many as ‘the Barbie house’
My husband Tom is a builder and we have a 12-year-old son, Arthur, so I know all too well the battle many women face when trying to bring this colour into their homes.
That’s nonsense because it wasn’t until the 1950s that pink was considered a girly colour, but if you meet resistance, be clever and choose pinks with names like ‘putty’ or ‘plaster’, so they slip under the radar.
To go Barbiecore, though, you’ve got to be brazen: there’s no point playing it safe with a few pink cushions or accessories — as these extraordinary homes illustrate.
This is my dream house and Barbie would adore it
Like most women of her generation, Amy Griffith, 47, enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls as a child. Now, she has two real-life Barbie dream houses of her own, one in rural Essex and another in Morocco.
Her six-bedroom, seven-bathroom Essex home is known by many as ‘the Barbie house’. Small wonder, given it’s even painted pink on the outside.
‘When I invested in the property in 2009 it was just a rundown beige house that hadn’t been shown any love for many years,’ says Amy, an artist and entrepreneur who lives between the two houses with her partner and hires them out when she’s not there.
Like most women of her generation, Amy Griffith, 47, enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls as a child. Now, she has two real-life Barbie dream houses of her own, one in rural Essex and another in Morocco
‘I wanted to design a house that would serve as a masterpiece in its own right.
‘I chose pink as a major theme that runs through the house because it’s a feel good colour.’
The style is eclectic, daring and kitsch with bedrooms, bathrooms, a dining room, hallway and extensive gardens decorated and accessorised in every shade of pink, from blush to neon.
‘Barbie wasn’t my original inspiration for the house, the pink theme just sort of evolved. I’ve realised the colour is just part of who I am’.
Some say it’s childish but I love being girly
You’d never guess from looking at the outside of Sophia Ferrari-Wills’ traditional five-bedroom cottage in rural Cambridgeshire that inside it’s like stepping into a Barbie Dreamhouse.
On a break from her career as a midwife and health visitor, Sophia, 35, lives with her husband Chris, 43, sales manager for a print company, and their daughters Clemmie, four, and Minnie, two.
Sophia Ferrari-Wills lives with her husband Chris, 43, sales manager for a print company, and their daughters Clemmie, four, and Minnie, two
Her love of pink interiors has gained her 494,000 followers on Instagram (@thiscolourfulnest)
Her love of pink interiors has gained her 494,000 followers on Instagram (@thiscolourfulnest).
‘I’ve always been girly,’ laughs Sophia.
‘My friends bought me the Ferrari Barbie as a gift in my teens because of my surname. I’ve still got her.’
Two days after buying the cottage in October 2019, Sophia set to work. ‘It was a joy to hand-paint each spindle of the dark wood staircase pink.
‘Last year I painted the log burner in the living room and everything in the kitchen pink including the microwave.’
The fence in the garden is painted in a shade called ‘My Husband Said No’. Not that Sophia’s ever had a problem convincing Chris.
‘When we first met, he was wearing a pink shirt and socks,’ she says. ‘Like me, he loves colour.’
Other members of her family aren’t quite so enthusiastic. ‘When some relatives came to stay, they weren’t overly impressed. ‘All of the pink is a bit childish, isn’t it?’ they said. ‘Surely you’ll go more neutral when you renovate the house in the future?’ The answer is no.’
I’ve even painted the patio pink
Kate Morgan’s three-bed townhouse in an Essex village has had the full Barbie treatment. ‘The house was a new build when we bought it six years ago and everything was magnolia. I gradually added colour to inject some personality.
‘I’ve always been very girly and obsessed with Barbie, so using pink isn’t jumping on an interiors trend for me, it’s my neutral. Our old house had pink bedrooms and a pink kitchen, too.’
Kate Morgan’s three-bed townhouse in an Essex village has had the full Barbie treatment
Kate’s home is now a glorious tribute to all things pink and pastel, from the pink-painted paving on her patio to the flowers stencilled on the steps of her staircase
Kate’s home is now a glorious tribute to all things pink and pastel, from the pink-painted paving on her patio to the flowers stencilled on the steps of her staircase.
As a child, she had several Barbie dolls and the much-coveted Barbie camper van. ‘I especially love my pink-themed kitchen. To keep costs down, I’m a dab hand at DIY, doing most of the decorating myself, including upcycling furniture by painting it pink and other pastel shades.
‘I painted my bedroom floor pink, and the kitchen units too. I scour second-hand shops and car boot sales to buy vintage accessories.
‘Friends love my house, they see it as a novelty. But having everything pink would be quite overpowering, so I offset it with lots of greens, blues and lilacs to break it up.’
She describes herself as an ‘accidental Instagrammer’ having gained more than 430,000 followers since posting a few photos of her interiors progress in 2019 (@kate_rose_morgan). Her husband Lammert, 44, an NHS trainer, took no persuading when it came to the colour choice.
‘I especially love my pink-themed kitchen’, said Kate. ‘To keep costs down, I’m a dab hand at DIY, doing most of the decorating myself, including upcycling furniture by painting it pink and other pastel shades’
‘He knows how much I love anything to do with interiors, so says yes to any ideas I have just to make me happy! I’m lucky, because I know a lot of men wouldn’t entertain it,’ says Kate, 40.
As for the Barbie movie, Kate says she and her eldest daughter are on countdown — while her husband is braced for more pink house projects once they’ve seen it.
The kitchen fitter just couldn’t believe his eyes
Communications manager Lucy Saxton- Quinn has gone for all-out Barbiecore in her bright pink kitchen — with her husband’s full encouragement.
‘The chap from the kitchen company who came to fit it thought we were joking when we told him it was pink. When he unboxed the units he was so tickled he asked if he could FaceTime his wife to show her,’ says Lucy, 39, whose pink-themed home is a two-bed maisonette in Tunbridge Wells which she shares with Jason, 58, an author and magazine editor, and their two dogs.
Communications manager Lucy Saxton- Quinn has gone for all-out Barbiecore in her bright pink kitchen — with her husband’s full encouragement
‘As a little girl I had Barbie dolls and the pink Barbie car. It’s such a mad, happy colour and you can’t help but feel alive when surrounded by pink.
‘I fell in love with it even more when Jason was speaking at the Jaipur literature festival in India a few years ago, a city renowned for its gorgeous colours — there was orange, pink and bright fuchsia everywhere.
‘It inspired our wedding theme of Bollywood meets Club Tropicana in Kent in 2019, including a bright pink tuk-tuk instead of a traditional wedding car.
‘Pink is our trademark and makes us feel so happy that we decided to go for it with our kitchen and choose the jolliest, pinkest units we could find when we renovated it in 2018.’
Lucy (above) says friends describe her home as a ‘cross between a disco and a Bollywood set’ and she’s already hatching a plan to extend the full Barbiecore trend to other rooms.
‘The living room needs redecorating so that’s going to be pink, followed by the outside of the front door,’ she adds. ‘Our neighbours comment on the pink kitchen as they can see it when lights are on and say how cheerful it is. Even the kids on our road like to walk past and have a peek.
‘Jason adores cooking Indian food, so the kitchen is a fun space for him and we often match our clothes to the units.’