Stunning Ways to Update and Modernize Your 90s Home

Some ’90s homes truly need a complete overhaul to start fresh. But a major renovation isn’t always necessary. And if your 1990s woodwork and cabinetry is high quality and in great shape, it’s worth hanging onto. Read on for these fresh ideas to update your 90s home.

Updated 90s Home Breakfast Nook. Ideas to Update the 90s Home.
Natural light pours into this breakfast nook in a fresh shade of light blue paint and white trim. Source

10 Must-Do Ideas to Update the 90s Home

The key is to create balance and mix the old with the new. A perfectly curated and modernized space with just a touch of 90s style has the potential to feel warm and inviting. Have a budget-friendly design goal in mind? Well, simple fixes are a great way to achieve a big change. Read on for our list of ideas to update your 90s home. You’ll be ready to tackle it all before you know it. (No extensive renovation project required!)

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RELATED: 10 Honey Oak Kitchen Design Palettes – with Colors and Finishes

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How to Make a 1990s Home Look More Modern

1. Eliminate Any Surrounding 90s Vibes

One of the main problems with a 1990s style home is the fact that it’s got the decade on every surface. Cringe-worthy decor decisions (sponge painting trend, we’re looking at you) are everywhere you look. And when you look at it all at a glance, it can feel overwhelming. But don’t ditch that honey oak trim or cabinetry just yet.

90s sponge paint

Sponge painting had its heyday in the 1990s.

RELATED: The 10 Best White Paint Colors That Go With Oak

First, take a good look around.

One of the first things in deciding if it has staying potential is to ditch any surrounding 90s vibes first. Getting rid of the obvious is one of the easy ways to update an older home. Think a fresh coat of paint, new cabinet hardware, updated light fixtures, and ditching any and all 90s window treatments. Once you have the 90s pared down to just your oak, it’s honestly not bad! It may even be quite pretty if you have the chance to see it on its own.

90s curtains

Typical 1990s window treatments included layers of lace and plenty of floral swags.

READ MORE: 5 – 90s Decor Trends to Ditch Right Now

In this 90s-era dining room, a combination of earthy green walls, Tuscan-style fixtures, dark cherry red furniture, and beige carpeting made it feel extremely outdated on every surface.

In this 90s-era formal dining room, a combination of earthy green walls, swag window treatments, matching dark cherry red furniture, and beige carpeting made it feel extremely outdated on every surface.


2. Create Contrast

The oak finishes of the 90s can certainly vary in tone. But more often than not we tend to run into ultra-warm honey oak hues (think orange, red, and yellow undertones). And of course, this isn’t inherently bad. Yet, when it’s surrounded by walls with similar undertones it can feel pretty flat. So, I recommend attacking the walls early on in a 90s update. Go right ahead and paint over those dull colors and decades-old wall finish styles. You’d be surprised how a fresh coat of a contrasting color – like a soft grey or a bold navy can tone down all of the wood surfaces. It’s a quick fix, and one of my favorite ideas to update your 90s home.

A 1990s kitchen through and through, this before shot of one of our projects reveals a ho-hum palette of similar too-warm tones throughout the space, including outdated oak cabinets, matching floors, and an orange-red wall color.A 1990s kitchen through and through, this before shot of one of our projects reveals a ho-hum palette of similar too-warm tones throughout the space, including outdated oak kitchen cabinets, matching wood floors, and an orange-red wall color.

RELATED: Stunning 90s Home Kitchen Updates (Before and After)


The use of bright color in this bathroom (ASID Showcase Home award winner for Best Use of Color) allowed us to use oak in a way that felt fresh and inviting. The cool tones in the blue and green tiled backsplash and crisp white walls helped the warmer honey oak appear balanced and updated. A neutral tile floor balances out the palette. Interior Design by Carla Bast 

RELATED: What Flooring Goes with Oak Cabinets?

RELATED: 9 Modern Kitchen Design Ideas with Honey Oak Cabinets

3. Modernize Finishes to Update a 90s Home

Changing out fixtures such as cabinet hardware, lighting, and plumbing fixtures to new finishes is up there in my top ideas to update 90s home list. Cabinet hardware can be modernized in a snap. It’s an easy DIY fix you can do with a simple set of tools.

RELATED: How to Update Your 90s Era Lighting

1990s style was the defining characteristic of this outdated Tuscan style powder room, thanks to a blend of an ornate mirror, scrolled bronze light fixture and a dull gold wall color.

RELATED:  5 Signs Your Home is Stuck in the 90s

4. Cool it off.

Cool colors compliment the oak in a 90s Home. After you’ve finalized your wall paint and finishes, what’s next? Continue to cool things off with a complementary (cool) palette throughout the living space. We’re talking about decor here, of course. Choose rugs, furniture, accessories, and more that favor a cooler color scheme and a classic look. Crisp bright whites, deep blues, modern blacks, and fresh greens can have a profound impact on the overall vibe of your space. By adding in elements that pop against your oak, its warmth can shine in a positive way as opposed to blending in with everything else around it.

RELATED: Best Paint Colors for Your 90s Era Home

A 90s-style bedroom can be spotted instantly; between its beige carpeting, off-white walls, and red-toned oak trim, this bedroom was in need of a major overhaul. A 90s-style bedroom can be spotted instantly; between its beige carpeting, off-white walls, and red-toned oak trim, this bedroom was in need of a fresh look.

Navy-Blue-Master-Bedroom-Ideas to Update the 90s HomeUsing a cooler color palette of greys and blues, we were able to modernize this 90s-era bedroom into a relaxing retreat that felt firmly rooted in the present. Interior Design By: Carla Bast Design

5. Replace your outdated countertops.

Smithfield Countertops by Cambria Quartz

As they say, the kitchen is the heart of the home. If yours still boasts the laminate or tile countertops popular in the ’90s, it’s time for a refresh. Swapping out your old counter surfaces for more modern materials like quartz can be the biggest change in the look and feel of the entire space. Not only will this upgrade enhance the aesthetics of your kitchen, but it will also add value to your home.

READ MORE: Modern Countertop Colors for Honey Oak Kitchens

6. Replace that tired living room furniture.

A 1990s family room with layers of floral patterns, and small print wallcoverings in saturated shades if red and green. Source

Bid farewell to the bulky, overstuffed (and sometimes floral) sofas and dated coffee tables that once defined your decor. Embrace sleek, contemporary designs that effortlessly blend style with comfort, creating a new space for the present day.

A typical 1990s formal living room with overstuffed furniture, lots of red, and yellow walls. Source

RELATED: 39 Easy Center Table Decor Ideas (and tips) for your Living Room

7. Replace the Wallpaper.

You might be thinking to yourself…wallpaper?! YES! Wallpaper is making a big splash in design trends after taking a backseat for a while. YES, YES!! Lately, clients are all about injecting some personality into their rooms, and wallpaper is the perfect way to accomplish this.

The Home Alone movie dining room, with a traditional floral stripe wallpaper and crown molding. Source
This powder room feels fresh and inviting with a modern floral wallpaper. Design by Carla Bast | Carla Bast Design

8. Swap the hardware on your interior doors.

Replacing the shiny faux brass with black hardware will give your 90s home a fresh new look. Source

Updating the hardware on your interior doors in your 90s home makes a major impact on the overall updated look of your home. Swapping out those dated faux brass door handles and hinges for sleek, contemporary options not only enhances the overall aesthetic in a big way, but you’ll also love how smoothly they function.

9. Tackle Your Front Door and Entry

Lastly, updating your front door is an easy and affordable way to make a big impact if you have a limited budget. A simple coat of paint can completely transform your ’90s home’s curb appeal – not to mention bring an updated feel to the entire space. And with the power of paint at your fingertips, you can choose any color, from bold and vibrant hues to soft pastel shades. Just be sure to work with your existing palette of exterior finishes on the front of house, like your roof color, siding and trim colors, and any stone or brick colors.

Before: The drab entry door color does nothing for this home’s curb appeal.
After: A fresh coat of paint in a vibrant blue brings new life to these front doors. Add a new outdoor rug, and potted flowers for a fresh spin on the old. Source

10. Say goodbye to popcorn!

Upgrading your ceilings by removing the popcorn texture and opting for a flat (smooth), knockdown or orange peel texture not only modernizes your space but also makes future repairs easier.

Popcorn ceilings pose an additional concern due to the possibility of asbestos, disturbing asbestos is the last thing anyone wants to do, so consult with the professionals on this before touching it.

A flat ceiling gives this kitchen a fresh look. Source

RELATED: Benjamin Moore Hale Navy: Paint Color Review

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Have you always been a bit afraid of tearing out your home’s oak (especially if it’s in mint condition)? Dying for a modern upgrade, but aren’t ready to ditch every element of your home’s style? Then trust me. Incorporating each of these ideas to update your 90s home is guaranteed to give you the perfect solution for your troubles. You may realize that your oak isn’t quite so bad after all.


Hi, I’m Carla


I’m glad you’re here! You are in the right place if you are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of embarking on a remodeling or interior design project. Living with an outdated home and don’t know where to start? I’ve helped families like yours update their home and create spaces that reflect what’s important to them for over 25 years.

I’ve been honored to be featured in:

Real Homes

The Spruce

Apartment Therapy / Cubby

Twin Cities Luxury + Fashion

MSP Magazine

Minneapolis Star Tribune


Home Crux


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