And How to Update It
Wondering if you have a 90s-era home? Or think your 1920s tudor got a completely unnecessary “update” circa 1995? Do you have endless carpet and honey oak on every surface? You are not alone. We can’t tell you how many of our clients have faced the exact same problems. But the best part about it is that these things are totally fixable. You just need a little creativity and determination to get the refresh you truly deserve. Read on for our top tips on updating your 90s home. Even one change from the list will make a world of difference.
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#1 – Popcorn Ceilings
It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s…another popcorn ceiling. If every ceiling in your house has the quintessential texture of a gravel path, then you know exactly what we mean. Now, you can absolutely DIY your ceilings. But don’t immediately rent a sander and go to town. First make sure to consult with a pro. Depending on when your ceiling was installed, it may have asbestos (which you absolutely want to handle safely). Plus, sanding down a popcorn ceiling creates a ton of dust. Regardless of the method or person doing the work, though, we can guarantee that replacing these will make a huge impact in your space.
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#2 – Wall to Wall Carpet
Carpet is hands down the mascot of the 90s. Of course, carpet is called for in certain situations (think finished basement spaces or home theaters). But other than intentional use, we recommend sticking to hard floor surfaces with cozy rugs to define specific spaces. If you’re lucky enough to have existing hardwood floors underneath a layer of mauve carpet, then refinish those babies and let them shine! If not? Well, you can always install new wood flooring or opt for an LVP or tiled floor for extra hardiness and waterproofing.
#3 – Soffits in the Kitchen and Bath
Does your bathroom or kitchen have all kinds of strange ceiling angles and soffits? Wonder if they may or may not house a host of elves via a secret door? Then you’ve entered into a 90s realm. But while it may be tempting to rip them out immediately, make sure you check that they aren’t hiding mechanicals or an HVAC vent. Depending if it was installed purely for visual effect or for a functional purpose, you may need to hire a pro to reroute a few essential components.
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#4 – Oak Overload & Orange Wood Tones
You know we love to talk about dealing with honey oak here. And there’s a reason for it. It’s one of the most common features of a 90s home and we come across it all the time. If you’ve got a built-in media cabinet, kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, and trim everywhere (all in outdated oak or orangey tones), then this is right up your alley. Of course, there are ways to work with your existing wood to make it shine. You can ditch it, sure. But sometimes all it takes is a bit of rethinking. A fresh coat of paint on the walls, a contrasting floor update, refreshed hardware and fixtures, or plenty of cooler tones pulled into the space via your furniture and decor can make it feel manageable and beautiful once again.
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#5 – Clunky Cabinets
Do your kitchen cabinets feel too big for the space? Do they somehow manage to make the room feel small and cramped while offering not-quite-enough storage space? You’ve got a 90s-style clunky cabinet situation on your hands. And while it’s a bit more expensive to deal with these, the best solution is to rip them out and start fresh. If you try to work with them as-is, a coat of paint will update the color of your space. But ultimately, you’ll still be left with a cramped room that isn’t comfortable in the long run.
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90s home styles can sometimes work when balanced against complementary, but contrasting, styles. But most of the time, this decade’s decor was not what we’d call timeless. So, no matter which part of your home is stuck in another decade, know that a modern revamp is absolutely attainable. And we’re always here to help.
Wow. Great post, Carla! My home suffers from soffits in the kitchen & wall to wall carpet, but since it’s an apartment, I can’t do too much about those issues.
However, if I could, I would, because I could not agree with you more..especially about the soffits…and they are so easy to tear out.
Those popcorn ceilings GAH…personal pet peeve, and the gratuitous soffits. Also weird angles and “creatively shaped” islands. Great solutions here, Carla, and VERY familiar before pictures! The 90’s rivals the 70’s (and everything in between) for being a desert for design!
Great post. You had me at popcorn ceilings. It’s unbelievable that many high priced homes are still being built with that very “special” feature.
Great tips! I was lucky and had no popcorn ceilings or soffits, and have already ripped out the wall to wall carpet and painted my honey oak cabinets. Still working on the old lighting…another sign of the 90’s.
Not only have you identified the key design elements that make a home feel dated but also gave such great solutions!
Thank you so much, Lisa!
I chuckled on everyone of your points Carla because they are all so Yesterday!
It is like I want to send your post to those that are stuck in the past but I better mind my P’s and Q’s.
Yes, I understand! Thank you so much!