From the Archive
In this, the fifth instalment of our ‘Turn Back Time’ feature we move into the 90s writes Cathy Black. Although born in the mid-80s, I do class the 90s as the era in which I grew up!
What springs to mind mainly from this period is loud jumpers, lairy shell suits and the bob haircut – or maybe this was just the fashion my mum chose for my sister and me! In the home, I remember having a blow up chair and my sister a lava lamp (which in itself was a throwback within a throwback to the 70s)!
The 90s on the whole, were all about getting back to basics in the realm of home decor. Of course some of the loud, daring trends of the 1980s carried into the earlier part of the decade but for the most part, the 90s were all about paring down and taking a cue from traditional style. People felt overwhelmed by the conspicuous consumption of the 80s, so interiors took a turn for serene neutrality.
Simple and restrained, the minimalism of the 90s was not unlike rustic Scandinavian spaces. With sustainable living on the rise, keeping only what you need and love in your home was beginning to take trend. This still continues to be a trend which many modern homes adhere too. It also makes for a more functional, clean lifestyle and living space!
All things light and bright are in. But did you know that blond wood floors and pine kitchen cabinets were just as coveted in the 90s as they are now? The tone then was a bit more orange than it is now, but we’re beginning to see a renaissance in light woods and a betrayal of the dark finishes often used in the early 2000s. Inexpensive and effortlessly stylish, paler wood grains brighten a room and make it feel fresh and natural.
The 90s had diet fads and today we have health fads. But when it comes to healthy living in the form of design, the two periods share a common interest in serene spaces inspired by the zen interiors of Japan. Clean-lined furniture, shoji-style doors, neutral palettes and minimal decor all fall under the zen trend umbrella, which is as popular today as it was back in the 90s.
In the 90s green was often the shade of choice for carpets, cabinetry, walls, and pillows. This saturated hue had a bit of a hiatus, but we’re beginning to see its return in the form of emerald-tinted furniture and moody, olive paint colours, often used in the upcycling trend and through the use of chalk paint.
Blue and white colour palettes
If you’re looking for a timeless colour combination, blue and white always works. For coastal-inspired spaces, consider navy and white stripes or indigo blue accents. For more traditional homes, play with chinoiserie patterns and blue and white checks. But regardless of your space’s style, this colour palette transitions no matter the decade you are trying to emulate.
Country is making a comeback, we’re definitely not referring to the decorative roosters and ruffled tablecloths of the 90s (In fact I think my mum still has several roosters adoring her kitchen that I remember from when I was a child!). But gingham, wicker, and brass are readily available and work as fabulous accents in the home. Paired with a more contemporary, clean palette, the farmhouse look is grand when set against a minimalist backdrop.
Continuing on from the farmhouse style, the traditional all-white kitchen popularised in the 90s has returned with a modern twist. Think creamy classic cabinetry, milky walls and countertops, and sometimes even fresh, white appliances. Add a well-worn farmhouse table into the mix for a rustic finishing touch.
Who didn’t own at least one piece of inflatable furniture during the 90s?! Not practical or particularly comfortable but, these statement pieces literally blew up in the 90s. Although these are a statement that many of us would happily leave in the past they could still work well in today’s home. A children’s play room or bedroom may be a great place to resurrect this once popular trend, and what’s more they prove to be much cheaper today than they ever were back in the 90s.
Glow in the dark stars
Although I never fell to this trend, my sister did in a big way! In fact, her original 90s glow in the dark stars, were recently re-enlisted for use on my son and daughters ceilings! Once again not a 90s trend that should be overdone but in the right space these glowing, plastic wonders can still capture the imagination.
Funky CD towers
How better to display your hottest new ‘Now’ CD than to have it proudly perched at the top of a wavy CD tower? Storage with flare was definitely a thing of the 90s. Wavy cd tower or not we all require storage for our media and there is no need to be boring with it. This is certainly an area in our homes where we can play with the idea of 90s styling to choose something a little more interesting.
From subtle vines to massive carnations, flowers were the upholstery choice of the decade. We are not suggesting you trade in your sofa for one of a floral persuasion but you may wish to play with cushion covers and other soft furnishings in this area of your home to add a nod to the era that is easily changed and updated should it not work for you.
Thick carpet everywhere!
By the end of the decade, we came to our senses and ripped it all up, but for a while it was the best way to dump out your Legos in silence! There are merits of course, thick carpet is certainly insulating and will ware well, so even if you only choose to use it in your high use areas such as your lounge you won’t go far wrong.
Weather, like me, you consider yourself a 90s child or simply just wish to play with some of the novelty elements to add a little interest into your home then the 90s certainly has something to offer, weather into minimalism or eclectic…simply have some fun!