Quick Ideas to Update Your 90s Home

Simple Steps to a Modern Space

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

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.

Simple 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!)

RELATED: 10 Kitchen Lighting Ideas for Low Ceilings

How to Make a 1990s Home Look More Modern

Step #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.

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 more. 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.

RELATED: 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of earthy green walls, Tuscan-style fixtures, dark cherry red furniture, and beige carpeting made it feel extremely outdated on every surface.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of earthy green walls, Tuscan-style fixtures, dark cherry red furniture, and beige carpeting made it feel extremely outdated on every surface.

Step #2: Create Contrast to Update the 90s Home

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 and yellow undertones). And of course, this isn’t inherently bad. Yet, when it’s surrounded by beige or earth toned walls and beige carpeting, it can feel pretty blah. So, we always 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 one of our favorite ideas to update your 90s home.

RELATED: Modern Countertop Colors for Honey Oak Kitchens

90s wall stenciling
Floral stenciling was a popular 90s design trend. Source

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 cabinets, matching floors, and an orange-red wall color.

nge painting.

RELATED: How to Update your 90’s Era Kitchen

Ideas to Update 90s Home

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. Interior Design by Carla Bast 

RELATED:  How to Update your 90s Era Bathroom

RELATED: What Flooring Goes with Oak Cabinets?

90s living room
A 1990s family room with layers of floral patterns, and small print wallcoverings in saturated shades if red and green. Source

Step #3: Modernize Finishes to Update a 90s Home

Changing out fixtures, such and cabinet hardware, door hardware, lighting, plumbing fixtures in these finishes is a must to update your 90s space. Hardware can be modernized in a snap. It’s an easy DIY fix you can do with a simple set of tools. Lighting and faucets, on the other hand, are possible to DIY, but you may need a bit of help from the pros (especially if you’re not well-versed in plumbing or electrical work). But unless you need serious rerouting of anything, a simple swap out definitely won’t break the bank. And once it’s done? Well, it’ll transform that oak in a flash.

RELATED: How to Update Your 90s Era Lighting

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

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

In these before shots of our Jordan mudroom design (scroll down for the after photo), they reveal a 90s-era cramped and crowded entryway with little space to easily set down essentials like bags or coats.
In these before shots of our Jordan mudroom design (scroll down for the after photo), they reveal a 90s-era cramped and crowded entryway with little space to easily set down essentials like bags or coats.

In these before shots of our Jordan mudroom design (scroll down for the after photo), they reveal a 90s-era cramped and crowded entryway with little space to easily set down essentials like bags or coats. Cherry hardwood floors and woodwork run throughout the main floor living space and mudroom.

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

Ideas to Update 90s Home

This updated mudroom was a bit more extensive than a simple finish swap out, but work sharing. We did some rearranging of the space to include a larger warm toned wood bench and grey cabinet lockers, and then we added sleek modern hardware pulls in brushed nickel for a balanced aesthetic that perfectly paired together cool and warm hues. Vinyl tile floor is workhorse in this new space. Design by Carla Bast Design

RELATED:  Mudroom Ideas for the Busy Family

Step #4: Cool it Off Cool Colors to Compliment the Oak in the 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 space. We’re talking about decor here, of course. So, when in doubt, choose rugs, furniture, accessories, and more that favor a cooler color scheme. Crisp bright whites, deep blues, modern blacks, and fresh, clean, 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 major overhaul.

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

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.

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. Source

RELATED: Benjamin Moore Hale Navy: Paint Color Review

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 us. 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.

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Hi, I’m Carla

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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.

Join me!


I’ve been honored to be featured in and receive awards from:

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Apartment Therapy / Cubby

Houzz / Best of Service & Design

Minnesota Chapter ASID – First Place Award

MSP Magazine, Best Use of Color

Minneapolis Star Tribune

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