Modern-maximalist Anna Rafferty is the creator of Barbie Roadkill, a vintage clothing brand and Etsy shop. Her unapologetic passion for bold colors and patterns has made her Chicago home a major source of inspiration for our blog and beyond. Read on for Anna’s candid style advice and stunning photos (we’re having major color envy).
When did your love of color, patterns, and design begin?
I became passionate about color, pattern, and texture in my late 20s when I got really into thrifting. Chicago is home to some of the best thrift and vintage resale stores, and I’ve had great luck at garage sales in the suburbs. I take inspiration from the TV characters Claire Huxtable and Carrie Bradshaw because both mixed prints and color, often haphazardly, but always exuded the confidence to pull it off. Today I feel more comfortable dressed like a rainbow than I do in neutral black or gray. I have the same approach to decorating my home – the more color the better!
What advice do you have for individuals who want to embrace maximalism?
Start with one impactful piece and go from there! I don’t recommend a pink wall with a rainbow couch and neon art for everyone; it took time to work my way up to that kind of bonkers combination. But each piece taken separately in an otherwise soft neutral environment is less abrasive on the eye and can be a fun and playful focal point of a room.
When decorating a room, where do you begin?
I start with furniture, then wall art, then house plants. I don’t hang art until I’m 100% happy with the furniture layout. Once I can see where blank wall spaces are, I decide between a large statement piece or a gallery wall. Each room typically has a little of both.
What piece of furniture can’t you live without?
My favorite piece of furniture is this weird acrylic chair I found thrifting on the south side of Chicago; it’s futuristic and delightfully tacky. I also love the rainbow wall weaving my mom made me.
What houseplants do you recommend for beginners?
I have killed soooo many delicate plants! The heartiest and most resilient I’ve found are ZZ plants and snake plants, which need little water and can survive with minimal to moderate sunlight (although I never suggest putting a plant in a dark corner). But my favorite, easy-to-grow plant is pothos because they’re very forgiving when over/under watered and grow beautiful vines when hung from the ceiling.
Any trends you’re into?
For home, I’m currently obsessing over neon Moroccan Berber rugs (and saving up until I can afford one). For clothing, I’m always on the lookout for vinyl jackets from the 80s and 90s.
What is your favorite color?
Pink! It makes me feel happy, playful, and youthful.
How do you design gallery walls?
I start by selecting the right combination of shapes, textures, and dimensions (for example: a rectangular painting, a fluffy woven wall hanging, a round mirror, and antlers that stick out from the wall). Then I lay the pieces out on the floor in a cluster and move them around till I’m happy with the layout. I generally try to picture an imaginary circle and stay within its borders. Then I take a photo of the cluster on the floor and replicate it on a wall! It’s easier than filling my walls with nails till I get it right.
Any other words of wisdom?
The best home décor is often in the kids section!