The regular changing of personal tastes is perpetual and irrefutable. Even the most seemingly timeless styles peak in favor, then fade away into the annals of design history. That is until enough time has passed that the styles of days gone by feel distinctive and novel again, when they emerge from hibernation, ready to weave their way into our homes in imaginative, modern ways. The most recent decade-driven style to find it’s renaissance is that of the not-so-long-ago 1990s. From apparel to home decor, the marketplace is alive with 90s regalia, revitalized with a crisp, urbane twist.
If asked to identify one key tenet of 1990s home design, most would certainly first list the unbridled use of rhythmic prints, especially undulating florals in muted tones ala Laura Ashley. As we sought a palette cleanse over the following two decades, we found freshness in utilizing neutral bases, textured layers and monochromatic color stories. And as everything old becomes new again, print is now what we crave in our designs. Vivid patterns add energy and dimension to rooms where layers of neutrals have begun to fall flat, and are easily integrated into existing designs through accent and upholstery updates. Layering brilliant color and pattern onto a neutral base breathes new life into a space, wherein the neutrals act as gallery walls primed to allow art pieces their proper prominence.
Floral prints in a more natural rendering like the Flora Velvet Pillow by Vanilla Fly give a nod to our firm’s biophilic inclinations, and are unmistakably au courant. Animal prints are another ubiquitous look of the early 1990s, imbuing a space with a more sumptuous spirit, and this Cheetah Cushion by Emma Shipleyaccomplishes that effect with a mark of modern whimsy in the animal’s exposed skeleton.
Reupholstering existing furniture breathes new life into heirloom quality antiques and modern pieces alike. Being given the ability to reuse our own well-loved pieces is equally beneficial to our emotional wellbeing and our planet. Mixing traditional silhouettes with contemporary upholstery is a growing trend for good reason—it allows us to strike an unexpected balance between traditional and invigorating new looks. Timorous Beasties is a fabric source from the UK who effortlessly achieves that look with their most vibrant, modern take on prints. Their Bloomsbury Garden printed linen exudes updated 90s style that is at once exuberant and soothing, modern and classic.
Perhaps the greatest resurgence to come out of the latest 1990s renaissance is that of wallpaper. Wall coverings are another way to layer color and bold pattern into a room, and have been reestablished as a veritable design staple. There are a number of notable emerging artists in this field creating thoughtfully crafted, boldly patterned wall coverings. A favorite of mine is Sofía Willemoës, whose inspiring prints make use of natural elements like palm leaves, roses and vivid bunches of fruit, integrating the biophilic illustrations into this trend item. Her Bushy design is reminiscent of a verdant Central American jungle, and for floral devotees, her Wait for Me White Rabbit rose print is simply divine. For more wall covering inspiration, see this post from April where we covered a few sustainable options.
Night Watch Green
The use of hunter green was as ubiquitous in 90s design as florals, and so it is only natural that the 2019 interior color of the year is an update to this once well-loved shade. Green is a color that symbolizes growth, health and wellbeing, inner peace and abundance. It has some of the same calming properties of the blue family, while also maintaining the vibrant energy of yellow. Because of this, green works well in living spaces and action areas like the kitchen. Integrating this energy into our design plans is not only on trend, but highly beneficial to our internal harmony and the flow of energy in our homes. I expect to see this hue used often for wall color, with some more adventurous clients utilizing it for cabinetry, but of course an easy way to introduce a new trend is always with the addition of accessories like throw pillows. This Tile Wool Pillow by Muuto offers a more subtle way to layer this shade into a room.
Rich Brass Accents
At the end of the period we classify as “1990s style,” we were ready for less gold. Ornate polished brass reproductions had taken on garish qualities in design, and simplicity became the order of the day. It is well known that brass has made more than a comeback in home fashion, and where we will see that stand the test of time is in a more historically traditional and authentic utilization of the metal. In the 90s, gold-toned swans perched authoritatively atop sinks and whirlpool tubs. Ornate interior door hardware battled for command of our attention with equally ostentatious wall coverings and upholstery. Now that the visual noise that those combinations created has been cleared, we have space to enjoy the presence of brass again. Our modern take on brass embraces the earthly, authentic qualities of this metal, like it’s natural patina, rather than a glossy, polished replica. It warms an all white room, and blends seamlessly with bright, energizing colors and patterns. Utilizing simple silhouettes prevents us from overpowering our senses. Serena and Lily’s Everett Three Arm Sconce in Antique Brass is a lighting option that creates a powerful brass statement through its classic simplicity. This set of three Marine Brass Trays pairs peaceful tonal blue and white enamel with an unlacquered brass underside that wears beautifully over time.
Although it feels as though they were not that long ago, the 1990s have found revival in home decor. Fresh takes on staples from this time make for easy integration into a holistic design plan focusing on biophilic design and color therapy. While we often look upon the fashion renaissance of recent decades past with trepidation, this 90s reboot is firmly implanted in the current design landscape, and with elements of sophisticated modernization, I am wholeheartedly embracing it.
Laurence Carr is founder & CEO of Laurence Carr Design, an award winning interior design firm in New York City providing full service and e-design services to clients. She creates exquisite holistic interiors that promote mindful living and harmony, while attaining a level of sophistication through layering modern art, furniture, antiques and accents. Born in France, Laurence has 20 years experience in design, the performing arts, and fashion. She has been nationally published and is a frequent speaker and panelist in major industry related events. an award winning interior design firm in New York City providing full service and e-design services to clients. She creates exquisite holistic interiors that promote mindful living and harmony, while attaining a level of sophistication through layering modern art, furniture, antiques and accents. Born in France, Laurence has 20 years experience in design, the performing arts, and fashion. She has been nationally published and is a frequent speaker and panelist in major industry related events.