Pink interiors for grown-ups – how to do Barbiecore without the sugar rush 

Experts share how to make pink look sophisticated, not sickly

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie has everyone talking – and not just about what Ken’s job of ‘beach’ could possibly entail. One clear part of the narrative has been the iconic Barbie pink, which has, in turn, inspired the Barbiecore trend.

Even before the movie was released, there had been an explosion of pink decor available to shop – and a surge in demand for the colour, too. According to data collected by Ruggable*, there has been a 140% increase in searches for pink interiors terms over the past 12 months, with pink glitter paint, hot pink paint, pink-and-grey wallpaper, pink curtains and pink rugs all featuring. It’s probably also no coincidence that Pantone’s trend-setting Colour of Year 2023 is Viva Magenta.

Pink bedroom with pink headboardCredit: Clarke & Clarke

Nevertheless, if you can’t quite get your head around how to decorate with pink in a way that won’t make you feel like Ken might pop out at any moment (not that Ryan Gosling in the kitchen would necessarily be a bad thing) there is no need to panic as we have quizzed some of the industry’s best colour experts and designers for their recommendations.  

*Google Trends data was collected in June 2023 and reflects the search increases of the past 12 months in the UK. 


How has decorating with pink changed over the years?

From pastel pastiche to millennial chic

Much like Barbie has evolved, our perception of her signature colour and how we use it in the home has changed in recent times. “Many viewed pink as passé for decades, until the rise in popularity of the nude tones of millennial pink roughly eight years ago,” says Mandy Ribbon, paint product manager at Frenchic. “Since then, the versatility of this colour has meant a surge in popularity. And now the Barbie movie, with its infectious exuberance, is sparking renewed interest in vibrant pink.” 

Some may see pink as off limits for a home, associating it too much with childhood years: “They’re therefore ‘done’ with it,” Ribbon says. Others may have found pink typically too loud and out of touch with a pared-back design scheme.  

However, embracing the vibrancy that this colour offers goes beyond hot pink glitter. There are lots of different ways you can nod to Barbiecore in a unique way. And a touch of pink could be just the dose of character your space is calling out for… 

1. Find a shade of pink that speaks to you

There’s a pink “tribe” for everyone

Dining area with pink artworkCredit: Ruggable/Home with Helen and co

“I think we’ve recently stopped stereotyping beliefs about pink and its suitability,” says Patrick O’Donnell, international brand ambassador of Farrow & Ball. “Chosen wisely, it can be used as a neutral, but mix it up with bolder accents and it feels fresh and modern, so avoiding those twee overtones often associated with it.” 

Now, it’s all about finding the shades that work harder to enhance your space and reflect your personality. “Colour is very much attuned to our personality type,” Jessica Fryer, senior designer Clarke & Clarke tells us. “So, if bold, vibrant pinks speak to you, then go for it. If, however, softer tones work with your character and help to create a space that makes you feel at ease and within a luxurious environment, go for the more tonal pink hues.” 

Kitchen with pink wall and artworkCredit: Farrow & Ball

The origins of Barbie pink 

Barbie has been an icon since she made her debut in 1959, wearing a black-and-white striped swimsuit and thick-rimmed sunglasses. She acquired her first Dreamhouse in 1962, filled with mid-century modern decor and decorated in the bright oranges, yellows and other retro colours that defined the Sixties.   

So, when did pink come into it?  

According to Time magazine, looking back at the somewhat complicated history of Barbiecore, it was during the Seventies that the colour we now tend to associate Barbie with, came into the limelight, with Mattel pushing pink in its marketing campaigns. Now pink has more positive connotations towards it, and many have been reclaiming it as a symbol of social justice, according to National Geographic. And if there is anyone who is going to inspire us to decorate with pink, it’s Margot Robbie.  

2. Take a subtle, off-pink approach

Dusty shades make for looks with longevity

Bedroom with striped pink and white headboardCredit: Farrow & Ball

Much like with classic neutral colours, taking a subtle approach with off-pink hues can bring balance to a room and help other colours pop in your space., “Pink can harmonise with every area in the home, particularly a pink with all-round flexibility like Setting Plaster or Pink Ground,” shares O’Donnell. Subtle pinks like these bring warmth and sophistication without overwhelming, and you can throw any colour with it, from the brightest yellows to olive greens.Use paint and soft furnishings to create the look. 

This kind of pink can sit particularly well in a bathroom he says: “The joys of pink create a healthy glow in the bathroom. Those with a small dose of brown, like Setting Plaster and Templeton Pink, deliver a gentle, nostalgic lift and create a soothingly warm environment without any saccharine notes. A perfect choice for a south-facing sunny aspect.” 

Treating pink more like a neutral will give you more flexibility with other colours, too: “Dusty shades of pink work beautifully with rich, deeply pigmented blues, while pink and orange combine for a very fun and vibrant summertime palette,” says Fryer.  


3. Combine soft pinks with blue, green and grey

Some colour combinations work better than others

Magnet pink kitchen with green wallsCredit: Magnet

Lighter tones of pink also make a great canvas for more character at home. “There are some more subtle and clever ways to integrate the Barbiecore pink trend into your home that will withstand the test of time while still gracing your home with that joyful atmosphere that the trend embodies,” says Jen Nash, senior design lead at Magnet. “Pale and more tonal blush pinks can offer a sophisticated nod towards the trend while also pairing well with other colours.

Green, grey and dark woods all do well with blush pink by their sideS. Ribbon shares how a similar toned green can be a great colour pairing with pink, as can blue. “Deep blues team fabulously with soft pinks.”

It’s all about working with the right shades of pink, in the right areas and being considerate of what else is going on with your interiors. That way, you can create the perfect atmosphere.

Magnet blue kitchen with Samsung FridgeCredit: Magnet

“Midnight blues, olive greens and charcoal greys are all foolproof choices as they create a stately, sophisticated feel, while still adding a touch of drama to your space,” shares Nash, who notes how warm greys make ideal partners for pink in a kitchen, stopping them feeling too sweet and sickly. “Grey and pink work particularly well together as many shades of grey have a pink base.” 

4. Be playful but select with pink accents

Just a pop of pink can go a long way

Attic bedroom with blue storage and pink chairsCredit: House on Sugar Hill

You can still channel Barbiecore fun in your home, including hot pink, without it taking over your entire space. This can often give a more vibrant finish. It’s all about being more selective with items and giving thought to your colour combinations.  

Emily Simmons, creative director of Ruggable says that accenting with pink is a sound approach when it comes to decorating your space. “Pink is a great colour for bold statement pieces or fun decorative moments throughout your home,” she says. We love the magenta pink cushion reamed with the other cooler hues in this space created by @houseonasugarhill, and the blush pink upholstered chairs show it off perfectly. 

Fryer also endorses this method: “Accenting with pink, such as in cushions and curtains, can be a lovely way to bring pink in without committing to it on your walls. Small, upholstered pieces of furniture like footstools or ottomans can also elevate a space while you’re introducing more pink to your interior.”

Cream armchair with pink backdropCredit: Ruggable

 Even just adding a modern rug with a framboise pattern through it can be enough to brighten up a space without it feeling over the top, as has been done here with Ruggable’s Barbie™ Dreamworld rug in ivory and pink, sitting perfectly in a room of dusty yet bright neutral shades. See how fresh this room feels also with plants and greenery that naturally lift pink in a beautiful way. 

Magnet pink kitchen islandCredit: Magnet

In the kitchen, you might consider painting your island, but you could also choose accent bar stools, crockery and gadgets instead. It’s surprising how much positivity a dash of pink can bring to your space.  

“If you’re not quite ready to go all-out and paint your cabinets or walls pink, painting your kitchen island pink is a great way to tap into the Barbiecore trend and introduce a splash of joy into your space,” says Nash.

“A light or dusty pink like Magnet’s Lilac Blossom for your island can almost act as a neutral, which, when teamed with neutral cabinetry, creates a sense of serenity. Adding pink accessories of a similar hue to your surfaces, such as a kettle, cake tin or crockery, can tie the look together.” 

Magnet, Nova Matt Seagrass kitchenCredit: Magnet

Nash further suggests that using more powerful pops of pink can help liven up spaces where people gather. “This is especially effective if your island is where you entertain guests allowing it to take centre stage in your kitchen’s design.

“A pink splashback can also be a dynamic way of adding a splash of colour to break up the space. This will instantly add visual interest to the space and prevent a neutral colour scheme from feeling too monochromatic” she says.

5. Layer sumptuous fabrics and patterns in a bedroom

For a dream-like setting that has effortless design interest

Pink bedroom with pink headboardCredit: Clarke & Clarke

Particularly in a space that calls for relaxation, combine pink velours and velvets with lots of pattern for a unique and inviting finish. “Pink has struck a harmonious chord in bedrooms for a long time,” shares Fryer. “Soft, serene and subtle, it’s not all Barbie magenta and candy-coloured hues. The gentlest palette that offers up a relaxing and inviting environment in bedrooms.  

“Using a layered approach, with a variety of textures and shades, can create a softened, dream-like setting in bedrooms to really emphasise the space as a sanctuary, away from the hustle of the day. Our Lusso Wallpaper collection uses a soft pink palette across Art Deco-influenced patterns. This creates opulence and drama without the shock of a bold colour. Blush, champagne and rose gold all work beautifully to create a harmonious space to sleep in.”

6. Pair pinks with timber finishes

Both dark and light-toned pinks can be elevated with wood

Pink Magnet kitchen with wood bar stoolsCredit: Magnet

For a lofty and luminous finish, think about placing pink alongside lighter woods and natural materials, advises Nash. “Wood tones work wonderfully with pink, and can add a touch of organic warmth and class to the Barbiecore trend. Wood works especially well with a pale or dusky pink. Add wooden tones (or wood-effect) through chairs, tables or flooring. A herringbone wooden floor is a great way to add an Art Deco touch to a modern pink home.

O’Donnell tells us how painted wood can set off darker pinks, too, for spaces that want a little more edge. “For drama, pair a stronger pink with dark complementary colours on your woodwork. Blue-based, mid-pinks like Farrow & Ball’s Cinder Rose have a modern feel, especially when teamed with deep blue woodwork. It pulls out the underlying blue tones and lifts the pink to a new level,” he says. 

Are there any areas in the home that simply won’t suit pink?

And if so, why?

Pink can look the part anywhere in your home, and one thing’s for sure, it is unlikely to date. “Colour can transform with the seasons and the eras, and there is always a place for pink at home,” Fryer tells us. 

How you decorate with pink will depend on your taste first and foremost. However, experts generally recommend not using hot pinks in spaces where you go to relax. “Vibrant pinks are best avoided in rooms where you want to relax,” says Nash, who especially advises against these shades in the bedroom.

That’s not to say that they are entirely out of bounds in those spaces. As we said, accenting is a wonderful way to add pops of colour in a more subtle way. “If you love the idea of a bright pink, you could consider using it in small amounts for a ‘pop’ of colour in these spaces. Or, alternatively, paint your downstairs loo or another space that does not need a soothing feel,” advises Nash.

Pink tub-style chair with pink and silver wallpaperCredit: Clarke & Clarke

Only you know how you use a space. So make sure you think about matching the right shade of pink to suit the purpose of your different rooms. That includes how you want to make them feel. “Finding the right shade of pink that balances in a room with its natural light considerations is more important than the specific function of a room. If you’re keen for a sweetly hued kitchen, then go for it,” says Fryer.

“Or, if you dream of lounging in shades of champagne and rose gold, incorporate it within your living space. There really is no end to the luxurious possibilities with a perfectly balanced palette of pink,” Fryer adds.

Camille Dubuis-Welch

Written by Camille Dubuis-Welch she/her


Camille is a freelance writer based in north London with her cat and two friends. She has been writing on lots of interesting subjects over the past few years, starting out with a travel blog and online fashion column when she was studying English Language and Italian at the University of Manchester.

Cam has been in love with everything interior design and garden-related since before she can remember. She previously worked for Yankee Candle, as well as Groupon, and is the former deputy editor of where she got to collaborate with some very inspiring DIYers and focus on small-space improvements. In her spare time she’s usually taking photos, painting, exploring art galleries – or another country – and since she completed her RHS Level 2 practical gardening course back in 2019, there is also a chance you’ll find her planting or pruning something outside, come rain or shine.