25 Hilarious Things “Rich” People in the 1990s Had in Their Homes
Take a trip down this gold-plated memory lane.
The 1990s are revered for many things: boy bands, iconic celebrity couples, and, for interior design enthusiasts, a host of bizarre and bemusing décor trends. Yes, just as ubiquitous as platform sandals and choker necklaces in the 1990s were buddha head fountains and cherub statues—expensive accoutrements that we were more than happy to bid adieu to at the turn of the century. Keep reading to discover some of the luxury interior design trends of the 1990s.
After the bold design choices in the ‘80s—think glass blocks and black-and-red bathrooms—things took a turn for the decidedly stuffy in the ‘90s as furniture that looked like it came straight from your great-great grandparents’ house became en vogue once again. Case in point: The popularity of impossible-to-clean, easy-to-vacuum-up fringe on the bottom of sofas.
If you wanted your home to look like a Celine Dion video in the ‘90s—and who didn’t?—buying a canopy bed was the way to do it. Of course, extra-long white curtains (or toile if you were feeling particularly posh) were an assumed part of the look.
Helix staircases may have made it impossible to move furniture between floors, but at least they made it clear to everyone who entered your ’90s abode that you weren’t afraid to go bold (or expensive) with your home design.
Whether painted on the walls or adorning the top of a column in the foyer, cherubs were everywhere in the ’90s. You couldn’t go 10 steps in your average ‘90s McMansion without seeing a chubby angel of some sort.
Colloquially known as “lawyer foyers” today, double-height foyers were a selling point for virtually every ‘90s McMansion. After all, who wouldn’t want to make a grand entrance down a lengthy flight of stairs every time they went to go pay the pizza guy?
You couldn’t even call yourself wealthy in the ‘90s if at least part of your house wasn’t supported by a column that would fit in seamlessly with your average Roman temple. It’s Julius Caesar meets the 20th century.
The obsession with Japanese culture in the ‘90s didn’t end with folks securing their buns with chopsticks. The trend also extended to home decor—specifically in the form of bonsai trees, which countless rich households used to spruce up their interior landscapes.
Buddha Head Fountains
How did you know someone was really rich in the ‘90s? When their house was adorned with Buddha statues and fountains, like this one from Wind & Weather. After all, nothing says “I’m rich and relaxed” better than a disembodied head sitting in a pool of water!
While your average ‘90s home may have had a CD or record player plus a few speakers, a rich person’s home featured a surround sound-enabled home theater that was powerful enough to make the house shake during screenings of Jurassic Park. Let’s just say that if you had a rich friend growing up in the ’90s, sleepovers were usually at their house for this very reason.
What did club wear and the furniture in expensive homes have in common in the ‘90s? They were both frequently adorned in animal prints like leopard and zebra. Seriously.
Faux Fur Furniture
The faux fur trend of the ‘90s extended beyond the world of fashion. Those with creative interior designers often found their homes outfitted with at least a few furry chairs (like this one available at Z Gallerie) and/or ottomans so hairy you’d swear they were just shaved off a yak.
Rustic Bear Furniture
An unusual design staple seen in second homes in the ‘90s was rustic furniture that affirmed the owner’s status as a woodsperson (or, more likely, a shopper at the nearby overpriced mall). These woodsy pieces often featured images of backlit bears and textiles with faux-Native American prints. And if this aesthetic words for you today, you can buy this headboard from Woodland Creek’s Log Furniture Grace.
Even folks who had never so much as seen a deer decorated their homes with antler chandeliers in the ‘90s. These decorations were so ubiquitous, in fact, that during the decade, countless companies produced their own enamel versions for those who wanted one in their home but didn’t want to have to go further than their nearest Pottery Barn to get one.
While oversized aquariums were the aquatic accessory of choice in the ‘80s, by the ‘90s, koi ponds—often built right into the entryway of homes—were the preferred method of displaying expensive, untouchable pets.
Brightly-Colored Ghost Chairs
Even those who weren’t quite willing to shell out the money for an actual Philippe Starck Ghost Chair in the ’90s spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars to achieve a similar aesthetic (like this Wayfair set). And of course, in true ‘90s style, these dining room chairs frequently came in bright colors, like hot pink or orange.
Clear furniture was all the rage in the ‘90s—and in particularly fancy homes, this trend even made its way into home offices. If you wanted to give the room in your house theoretically reserved for work (but more often used to escape your kids and play Snood) a commanding feel, a glass desk (a la this West Elm iteration) was the way to do it.
Shabby Chic Furniture
To let people know you were rich in the ‘90s, all you had to do was scrape some paint off your furniture. The artfully distressed “shabby chic” aesthetic, much like a pair of $300-plus shredded jeans today, was the ultimate way of telling the world that you had the cash to look like your stuff was falling apart.
By the time the ’90s rolled around, paperclips were beyond passé. If you really wanted to keep your documents together in style on your desk, you opted for a glass orb with a preserved flower inside of it instead (like this Distinctive Decor version).
Shell Toilet Seats
Beachy vibes were already part of countless high-end bathrooms in the form of shell dishes and wallpaper borders in the ‘80s. But in the ‘90s, this trend extended beyond trinkets and onto toilet seats. You knew you were standing in a rich person’s home in the ‘90s when they had a $100-plus toilet seat embellished with shells from their yearly trip to Mustique. (For those into this former trend, you can get this one at Touch of Class.)
That collection of shells your kids brought back from the beach might be useless to you now, but it could’ve made for a fashionable DIY decor project in the ’90s. Back then, countless homes were filled with beachy lighting fixtures adorned with the kind of shells we so often see around surfers’ necks.
Taking a page from mall spas everywhere, fancy ‘90s homes were frequently dotted with displays of silk flowers, ranging from over-the-top orchid arrangements to year-round poinsettia centerpieces.
While lighted makeup mirrors have been around since time immemorial, expensive ‘90s homes put a new twist on this trend with lighted vanities adorned with so many blindingly bright bulbs you could practically tan in front of them.
Curved CD Racks
You couldn’t really consider yourself a trendy homeowner in the ‘90s unless you had a massive collection of CDs on display. And for those who truly wanted to show off their Ace of Base albums, curved CD towers were the most stylish—and dizzying—way to do it.
One of the best ways to prove that you not only had style, but also a fair amount of cash in the bank in the ‘90s was to make like the Olive Garden and have your kitchen remodeled in Tuscan style.
Desktop Zen Gardens
A Buddha head statue wasn’t the only way to show off your commitment to finding interior design nirvana in the ‘90s. For a not-so-small sum of money, you could flaunt your oneness with the world by investing in a desktop Zen garden (like this Buddha Groove version). Or, if you were in the market for something a bit flashier, you could even opt for a built-in one in the backyard. And for more ‘90s nostalgia, check out these 50 Things Only People Who Lived in the 1990s Will Remember.
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