6 Big Home Trends from the 1990s (That Just Might Return)

6 Big Home Trends from the 1990s (That Just Might Return)

Dabney Frake
Feb 18, 2016

Each decade is known for its own home trends. There’s not necessarily a clear-cut start or finish: they overlap with past years, and also come with their own modern twist. We've seen a lot of the 80s these past couple of years (neon, Southwestern style), much of which is still with us today. But, if history is our guide, some of the 90s is next.

But first, a little history lesson. The 90s were about all about retreating from the fast-paced freneticism of the 80s, and getting back to basics. Fueled by the recession, people scaled back, toned down, and returned to earth. Design reflected the zeitgeist, and interiors were serene, minimal, and soothing. Case in point: this neutral, minimalist living room (lead image above) from Terence Conran's The Essential House Book: Getting Back to Basics from 1994.

Here are six decorating choices that came on strong 25 years ago, and what those same trends might look like today.

(Image credit: Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz)

1. Light Wood & Knotty Pine: Sick of all that dark wenge yet? Maybe you’ll gravitate towards unassuming and inexpensive light pine and blond woods this year. The lead image above shows a simple yet stylish kitchen, designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, which appeared in Casa Vogue in 1997.

(Image credit: Clare Cousins)

Today, pine cabinetry and flooring were used in this modern kitchen designed by Clare Cousins.

(Image credit: House & Garden)
2. Minimalism: A new restrained outlook infused many homes with a similarly pared down aesthetic. Above, an article titled “Now and Zen” from a 1996 issue of House & Garden via Kitchens I Have Loved, shows an almost Shaker simplicity.
(Image credit: VT Wonen)
And from VT Wonen, a similarly rustic minimalist dining room space with roots in Scandinavian design.

3. Japanese Accents: Zen Buddhism fit the image of minimalist living, and as a result, Japanese art and decor bloomed that decade. Above, a living room from Japanese Accents in Western Interiors, published in 1997.

(Image credit: Houzz)

A Japanese-infused mid-century home of today, designed by Laidlaw Schultz architects, via Houzz.

(Image credit: Style at Home)
4. Wall-to-Wall Carpeting: There’s been a big focus on rugs in recent years, but there’s much to be said about full-on carpet. It’s cozy on the feet and inexpensive when compared to hardwood floors. Beige wall-to-wall was everywhere, as in this bedroom from Style at Home from 1997.
This bedroom appeared in Homestyle Magazine (and seen via New Zealand Design Blog).

(Image credit: This Old House)

5. White Kitchens: All white kitchens had their heyday in the 90s. Above, a traditional kitchen from the archives of This Old House.

(Image credit: Barbara Barry)

Today, white kitchens are back again with a vengeance (complete with modern white appliances). This one comes courtesy of designer Barbara Barry's portfolio of projects.

6. Hunter Green: This color surfaced in the 80s but carried on strong in the 90s, making its way into many households. Above a folding screen from Eclectic Style Interior Design, published in 1998.
(Image credit: Elle Decor)
More recently, the Kelly Wearstler-designed kitchen for Cameron Diaz, as seen in Elle Decor. The slightly emerald shade is today's twist on the memorable color.

What trends, if any, do you remember from the 1990s? Any that you think will make a comeback?

Re-edited from a post originally published 2.11.14-NT

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