Rooms that Perfectly Sum Up the '90s
Stripes and Plaids
Nineties-style living often featured prime pattern play, with plaid and striped textiles taking top marks. And oversize ships were apparently a thing.
Glossy exposed-wood furniture also experienced significant time in the spotlight throughout much of the '90s. Anything from pale maple coffee tables to stained oak hutches was fair game. And their go-to companion? Earthy olive, of course.
The latter part of the 20th century saw a resurgence of indoor gardening motifs, particularly wrought iron. The raw-metal finish was plentiful in both indoor furniture and decorative accents, and succeeded in bringing the outdoors in. (Also metal scarecrow, see: bringing the outdoors in.)
The 1990s gave new meaning to the idea of balance in home decor. Often a smaller-scale, sleek furniture arrangement would be balanced by a more substantial piece within the same space. And just to prove the '90s wasn't all frills and pattern explosions, this dining room, with its simple glass and cream linen dining set, nicely offset by the chunky sideboard, is a study in '90s minimalisim.
Sweet country-inspired style was an overarching theme 20 years ago. Characterized by braided textiles, a pastel blue palette, and delicately curved furnishings and fixtures, the country vibe is arguably one that will never go out of style. But decorative painting? Totally '90s.
Floral Window Treatments
While much of the past decade would suggest that draperies serve as a backdrop to other focal points in a space, the window coverings of the 1990s took center stage. Large-scale florals were often the main attraction, and -- like sleeves -- the puffier, the better.
Blue and Yellow
If Team '90s had a jersey, it would definitely be yellow and blue. Typically accented only by white and a few other hints of subtle color, this bold combination produced rooms that felt intentional and thoughtful.
Perhaps no decade was better at mixing multiple patterns than the '90s. Window treatments, wallcoverings, upholstered furniture, and bath linens were coordinated. And shiny brass hardware and bathroom fixtures? A '90s staple.
The canopy bed also experienced a major revival 20 years ago. Often featuring opulent draperies with a range of repeating patterns and delicately coordinated pleating, these beds were made to be wow-worthy focal points.
All About Color
The 1990s also was a decade-long celebration of color. Palettes were chosen with care and then worked throughout a space in bold blocks that established an aesthetic appealing to the adventurous.
Scooped silhouettes and edges ruled this portion of recent design history, in everything from architectural accents to light fixtures. Here, rolled-arm seating cleverly plays off of the rounded railing on the upper balcony and arch above the eat-in bar.
Eyes for Ivy
If one motif could serve as a mascot for the design of the '90s, ivy might just be the standout candidate. Whether it was in a window valance, wallpaper border, silk arrangement, or -- as in this case --all three, green ivy curled over a creamy background was a popular choice for nearly the whole neighborhood.
Layered to the Extreme
This era was the age of grandeur when it came to textiles. Stopping at a single layer around the windows or at the head of the bed was nearly unheard of, and the effect was a dazzling array of soft fabrics that created undeniable wow factor.
Faux-finish painting was another decorative accent that ruled the aesthetic of homes 20 years ago. Homeowners experimented with sponge-painted walls, colorwashed furniture, and more, more, more (the resounding theme of the '90s).