Ashley Graham has officially entered her “pretty pink era” as the host of HGTV’s Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge — and she even took home a special souvenir from the set.
The show, which premiered Sunday ahead of the highly anticipated Barbie movie, follows 15 fan-favorite HGTV experts and one Food Network chef as they race to design the best room in a Southern California mansion — and each room must be befitting of Barbie’s dream home.
Graham exclusively tells PEOPLE how filming the show was not only “so much fun,” but also a true “labor of love.”
“Every day was such a different excitement because I got to see the house before it got transformed, and then the middle, and then the final product,” the supermodel, 35, says. “And it was just this, ‘Wow, wow, wow.’ Every time I would see a new room, I was blown away.”
The best part, however? Graham got to keep one colorful item.
“I took a hot pink sledgehammer,” she reveals. “We’re holding them in the promo shots, and we’re walking down a very steep hill and I have high heels on. We’ve all got these sledgehammers and I was like, ‘I’m taking this home as a souvenir from my Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge on HGTV. Come on.’ It actually is right next to my Barbie in my office.”
The show challenges eight pairs of designers to team up with a Barbie fan and bring a room to life: Christina Hall and James Bender (Christina on the Coast); Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson (Married to Real Estate); Jasmine Roth (Help! I Wrecked My House) and Antonia Lofaso (Beachside Brawl); Ty Pennington (Rock the Block) and Alison Victoria (Windy City Rehab); Jonathan Knight and Kristina Crestin (Farmhouse Fixer); Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas (Bargain Block); Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt (100 Day Dream Home); and Michel Smith Boyd and Anthony Elle Williams (Luxe for Less).
Every room must feature a “toyetic” feature — something interactive, like a rotating closet. In the end, the Barbie fan on the winning team gets to spend a night at the Dreamhouse.
Graham admits she took inspiration for herself, revealing that she was “taking notes” as she was observing the transformations from “bland, plain-Jane, to spectacular, over-the-top Barbie land.”
“One thing I realized from the show is that my backyard is very basic and I need to get a slide that does a loop-de-loop,” she says. “My boys would go crazy.” The model shares three sons — twins Malachi and Roman, 1, and Isaac Menelik Giovanni, 3, with husband Justin Ervin.
But interior design inspiration isn’t where the Barbie influence ended for Graham. The mother of two has also incorporated the Barbiecore trend into her everyday life, admitting, “I’ve never worn this much pink in my life, but now I can’t stop.”
“I put the pink nails on, I put the pink lipstick on, I’m buying pink clothes. I have been 100% influenced,” she jokes. “Barbie has taken over fully, and I’m not mad at her.”
The next episode of Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge will premiere Sunday, July 23, at 8 p.m. ET on HGTV.