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Dreamhouse Or Your House?

Photos and Story Provided by Debbe Daley

Pink is the word as the release of the new Barbie movie approaches. And news that the production is partially responsible for a global shortage of pink paint is a good indicator that we may soon be inundated with Barbie Dreamhouse vibes.

And just what are those vibes? Some options can include glam furniture such as tufted velvet or crystal chandeliers; retro accents like turntables and telephones; and bold patterns like chevron stripes, polka dots, and florals on decorative pillows and throw rugs.

Even if you don’t want to transform your home into Barbie’s Dreamhouse, there are ways to take part in the fad with a more subtle approach that doesn’t suggest you just stepped out of a commercial for Mattel. With simple accessorizing anyone can get that little pop of playful color that won’t overwhelm the senses.

Let’s take a peek at more specifics of what the Barbie home decor looks like and how to achieve it.

Barbie debuted in 1959, so much of the Barbie look springs from fashions and decor popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the fashion-minded doll first began to find her way onto nearly every little girl’s Christmas wish list. 

This was a time when furniture with tapered peg legs was popular, so that’s a good place to begin. Finding sofas, coffee tables, end tables, and other furniture with that mid-century modern look that Barbie and Ken would be comfortable with could require a shopping trip to antique stores. But some new furniture stores also cater to people who desire the retro style. You could   go all in with pink furniture, or tone things down with more neutral colors for the furniture, while bringing pink, green or turquoise into the picture with decorative pillows or fluffy rugs. The Barbie movie trailer features a beach scene, so incorporating palm tree images into some of those accessories would add a nice touch. An actual small potted palm would help to complete the theme.

The kitchen provides any number of opportunities to incorporate the Barbie flair, including retro appliances such as ovens and refrigerators. Several businesses – Smeg, Big Chill, and others – specialize in such old-style appliances. But if you prefer practicality over throwback aesthetics in your major appliances, there are other opportunities to add a dash of Barbie ambiance to the kitchen. Vintage toasters, vintage coffee pots, or retro-designed dish towels would provide the touch you are looking for, but without making the entire kitchen look as if you have time traveled six decades into the past. Jazz up the backsplash with vibrant colors, such as pink and turquoise. For minor touches, consider dishes, glasses, placemats, and other accessories with pinks, blues, and greens. Milk glass also evokes that mid-century feel, so a milk glass citrus juicer or a milk glass mixing bowl decorated with a polka-dot or  floral pattern could give some verisimilitude to the scene. For informal dining, consider a table with a laminate top and a chrome frame, along with chrome-frame chairs.

With so many people working from home these days, a Barbie-inspired office could liven up your workspace and no doubt become a subject for small talk at the beginning of a video call. With the traditional office accouterments, mix in pink walls, a pink chair, or maybe even a pink desk. Have fun with lamps or other lighting, and then balance that with a more traditional rug. Once again, it depends on just how “all in” you are, so go subtle if you want the workspace to remain a largely serious place of business. 

Pictures and other artwork are a great way to bring Barbie decor into every room in your home. Find a Barbie-themed magazine, cut pages from it, and frame those pages. If you are a connoisseur of all things Barbie, feel free to sprinkle those pictures freely on the walls. If you are going for a fanciful but limited statement, one or two pictures should do the trick. But you also don’t have to be so literal in evoking Barbie with your artwork. Forgo the direct Barbie connection and instead concentrate on art that boasts the colors that fit the decor, such as pink, turquoise, and perhaps green, as well as the tropical theme mentioned earlier. 

If up to now you’ve leaned more toward the conservative side with your Barbie theme – just a dash here and there – one place you can finally let go is a child’s bedroom. Adding Barbie themed bedding, along with pillows of pink plaid, chevron florals, and paisley, can make the bedroom look like it burst from the pages of a Barbie magazine. Other accessories you could add include framed vintage Barbie dolls, wall art of high heel shoes, and nightstand lamps with polka-dot lamp shades.

Ultimately, how far you venture into Barbie home decor is up to you. You can go all in and dazzle guests with the full retro look wrapped in rich pinks, turquoise, and green. Or, if that’s too audacious for you, just sprinkle in minor touches wherever you decide they are pleasing to the eye.

As Barbie might say, the result will be swell.

About Debbe Daley

Debbe Daley (, author of Interior Motives: Designing a Career with Passion, is an award-winning interior designer with more than 35 years’ experience. She started her career as a self-taught designer making custom window treatments. Today, she provides interior design services for new and existing homes, and is also an interior design educator and a professional speaker. Daley is an associate member of the American Society of Interior Designers, a member of the Interior Design Society, and holds a seat on the National Board of Directors for the Interior Design Society.

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