How to Update Your 1990s-Era Bathroom

2 – 90s Bathroom Before and After Reveals

In the final design, we incorporated shades of white and brown, and kept all the finishes timeless and elegant in a bright chrome.
In the final design, we incorporated shades of white and brown, and kept all the finishes timeless and elegant in a bright chrome. Design by: Carla Bast, Carla Bast Design

Remember our previous post on updating your 90s era kitchen? Well, today, we’re tackling another major room in our quest to update the 90s home: the 90s bathroom remodel before and after. After all, 90s style didn’t typically contain itself to one corner of the house. It left its mark everywhere

RELATED: What Flooring Goes with Oak Cabinets?

Planning and Budgeting your 90s Bathroom Remodel

How much on average does it cost to remodel a bathroom? Bathrooms are usually the smallest spaces in a home and sometimes you can do an easy bathroom update on a budget by simply updating hardware or swapping out your 90s lighting. But, they can also be the most expensive to remodel. Plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, and more all play a role. So it’s a room you absolutely want to plan out before jumping into demo mode. It can be tempting to rip out those decades-old countertops and shower doors. However, you want to make sure you have all the details in place first so you know exactly where to start. 

So, without further ado, let’s talk updating the 1990s bathroom. Because chances are, if you don’t have some of these elements in your bathroom, your neighbor most certainly does.

Related: How to Update your 90s Era Kitchen

Nursery Drive Bathroom

BEFORE

What jumped out right away to us on this project was the color palette. Per typical 1990s-era style, cabinetry and trim throughout this space was all oak. This had the effect of making the room feel cramped and closed in on itself. Paired with those outdated brown tones was a shade of blue. This similarly made the space feel a bit jarring. In theory, blues can be relaxing and do frequently work well in bathrooms. But a shade this saturated didn’t quite work for the room with the finishes that were in place. Instead, it immediately evoked 90s memories. Beyond the color scheme, the room felt like it was too divided. The result was that it made it all feel smaller than it really was.

His & hers sinks in this bathroom had a decent amount of counter space, but it all felt cluttered and cramped without proper storage options built in.
Double vanity sinks in this bathroom had a decent amount of counter space, but it all felt cluttered and cramped without proper storage options built in.
Powder blue walls paired with a gray tub, white tiles, and oak trim made for an overwhelming color palette.
Powder blue walls paired with an outdated gray tub, basic white tile, and oak trim made for a non-cohesive and confusing color palette.
Oak trim around the windows made the light feel muted and darkened the space overall.
Oak trim around the windows made the natural light feel muted and darkened the space overall.
The shower area felt far too dark and small, separated from the rest of the space by a solid wall.
The shower area felt far too dark and small, separated from the rest of the space by a solid wall.

AFTER

To begin our transformation of this space, we started with 2-D and 3-D renderings showing in detail the room’s potential. The original bathroom had both a tub and shower, double vanity sinks, and a separate toilet nook. So, there wasn’t a large amount of extra square footage to work with. So, the goal was to keep everything feeling open and bright. Out went the darker colors, and in came classic shades of creamy whites and soft browns. Additionally, we opted for a surrounding glass wall and door for the shower to bring in the light. We also brought the cabinetry up to the ceiling (above the toilet and between the sinks) to add visual height to the space. The result was a spa-like environment that felt timeless, and popular in bathroom remodels.

3-D rendering of the future bathtub and shower wall, complete with updated glass, faucets, and tile.
3-D rendering of the future bathtub and shower wall, complete with updated glass, faucets, and tile. / Design by: Carla Bast, Carla Bast Design
3-D rendering of the his & her sinks station and separate toilet area, including ample storage solutions on the vanity.
3-D rendering of the double vanity sinks and separate toilet area, including ample storage solutions on the vanity. / Design by: Carla Bast, Carla Bast Design
The final tub and shower felt much more open, allowing light to penetrate the entire bathroom and making everything feel much larger.
The resulting tub and shower felt much more open, allowing light to penetrate the entire bathroom and making everything feel much larger.  Design by: Carla Bast, Carla Bast Design

Related: Tile Ideas and Inspiration to Update your 90s – Era Home

Oak Ridge Bathroom

BEFORE

Classic 90s-era design choices were apparent in this original bathroom with oversized mirrors above the vanities to start. Of course, mirrors do tend to make spaces feel larger. Yet, because of the paint colors and dark cabinetry, the room surprisingly felt like it was shrunk into itself. The other trend that was stuck in the 90s? Unnecessary steps to the soaking bathtub and glass-surround shower. Instead of opening up the space visually, it gave off a bulky vibe that didn’t fit the confines of the bathroom.

Though there was a large mirror in the bathroom, the dark paint colors and too-warm oak cabinetry kept the space feeling small and cramped.
Though there was a large mirror in the bathroom, the dark paint colors and too-warm oak cabinetry kept the space feeling small and cramped.
An outdated shower door and too-large tub kept this bathroom stuck in the 1990s.
An outdated shower door and too-large tub kept this bathroom stuck in the 1990s.

AFTER

To get the most out of the space, we kept everything largely in its original position. Then, we opted to simply update the materials and slightly alter the sizing of everything. By switching to a more contemporary-shaped tub, it opened up floor space. This allowed for a built-in nook for towel storage that was both functional and stylish. The shower was expanded as well to include a convenient bench seat inside.

FINISH DETAILS

The tile throughout the space were updated for a more streamlined marbled look to make everything feel cohesive with smooth transitions between each area. We changed the paint to a calming blue/green. (Here is my free guide to choosing paint colors with confidence.)

And finally, we updated the cabinetry and countertops to lighter, more elegant colors. Because of these changes, we were able to keep the original mirror intact. With all of these updates, it finally had the intended effect on the room to feel larger and much more spacious overall. 

By swapping out the old tub for a sleeker, more contemporary model, we opened up floor space, which helped the room feel much more open and airy.
By swapping out the old tub for a sleeker, more contemporary model, we opened up floor space, which helped the room feel much more open and airy. / Design by: Carla Bast Design
New paint and a fully-updated cream vanity gave this bathroom an instant style upgrade and instantly make the space feel larger in size.
New paint and a fully-updated cream vanity gave this bathroom an instant style upgrade and instantly make the space feel larger in size. / Design by: Carla Bast Design

Looking around your own 90s-covered bathroom and wondering if those outdated tiles and too-blue colors will ever get a facelift? Now’s your chance! Take a cue from these two project transformations. You’re sure to have a bathroom with style that will take you well into the next decade and beyond. For more 90s-era home transformation inspiration check out my post on How to Work with Your Honey Oak Trim.

Oh! And don’t forget to unlock your personal design style! Take our FUN and FREE QUIZ!

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Carla Bast Design

8 Responses

  1. Beautiful transformations! Wow, what a difference just adding the surrounding glass door and wall on the shower in the first example made in the first example.. Love all the color and material selections.

  2. These are both beautiful transformations, Carla. You have fortunate clients and I can only imagine how happy they are both with their new bathrooms.

    I especially love how you magnified the sense of light in both bathrooms through your choice of materials and paint. Gorgeous work!

  3. Hi Carla… these are both amazing transformations. I appreciate how you were able to add both the shower and bath separately without the space looking too cramped. Good job. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

    KaSonndra Leigh

  4. I think I’ve seen that bathroom many times over 🙂 Builders in a certain era seemed to be awash in that honey oak! Beautiful transformations – so much more open and bright and relaxing!

  5. i agree wholeheartedly. Don’t start without a plan! I love to demo a 1990s bathroom! I see you do too! I love the fresh updates you made, and your rendering skills are such an asset. Are you using Chief Architect?

  6. Going for a clear shower door really looks like a great idea. Since our current bathroom does indeed look a bit too dark sometimes, I feel like using more clear glass could help light the place up. I’ll take this idea once I find a shower door provider so we can make our bathroom feel less cramped.

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