Ah, the ’90s: The decade gave us the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, ‘NSYNC, and Pogs. It also gave us some of the all-time worst home trends (ahem, open floor plans). When the new millennium hit—and we weren’t all destroyed by Y2K—we may have thought we’d have a reprieve, but, alas, it was not the case: Really bad home trends continued in time with low rise jeans, Steve Madden platform slides, and Paris Hilton’s “that’s hot” catchphrase. We may think we’ve come a long way in the ensuing decade, but, let’s face it, there’s still some really bad interiors out there (for proof, look no further than this Instagram account).
Want to relive the worst? You’re in luck. Today, online home service site HomeAdvisor has compiled a list of the hands-down worst home decor trends, from the 1990s to today. Working with design consultant Pat McNulty, HomeAdvisor pulled from VERY reputable sources like Domino, realtor.com, Elle Decor, Apartment Therapy, and, of course, House Beautiful to compile the worst of the past three decades—which a graphic designer combined into one cringeworthy living room and bathroom photo for each decade. Read on for their selections.
The Worst of the 1990s
Open plan living room/kitchens
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: open floor plans are a bad idea! Well, McNulty agrees, noting that ’90s versions were especially bad, thanks to the—er, eclectic mix of styles and colors often involved. “Nineties interior design was often a mesh of styles and colors,” she says. “You could say the floral sofa was shabby chic, but it makes no sense in the context of the rest of the room. The combination of black and white floor tiles and yellow pine cabinets in the kitchen needs to stay in the ‘90s with plastic fruit and M.C. Hammer.”
Orange pine cabinets
Which brings us to a more specific bad trend: those light, pine cabinets. Could anything look more dated now?
What’s the best way to distract from your ugly pine cabinets? I imagine ’90s homeowners thinking? I know! Why don’t we stencil some leaves on the wall?
Why install a door when you could opt for a louder, infinitely less functional alternative? The plastic bead room divider was cheap, annoying, and didn’t even manage to give privacy—the whole point of a door!
I’m all for wallpaper everywhere, but I think I agree with McNulty on this one: Border wallpaper in a contrasting palette than the walls is a tricky thing to do well.
Top of my birthday and Christmas wish list for a good 4 years in the ’90s, these plastic furnishings were far from chic, but they do still have a certain kind of nostalgic camp—just ask Prada.
No, just no. It’s unhygienic and looks gross—who made this a trend?!
We’ll give it to the ’90s homeowners; they were diving deep into DIY long before Pinterest was even a glimmer in its founders’ eyes. One of the most popular projects involved texturing walls with a sponge or rag for—well, I’m not really sure what.
The Worst of the 2000s
Kitchens were lightyears away from today’s bright, airy spaces in the 2000s, as thick, dark granite dominated.
“‘Have a feature wall,’ they said. ‘It’ll look great,'” jokes McNulty. “Well, as this living room shows, the turn of the Millennium saw some questionable choices.”
Flatscreen TV over the fireplace
This is an interesting one: As TVs got slimmer, homeowners gave up bulky cabinets in favor of—just putting the TV on the mantel. While I’d argue this is less of a 2000s trend than a practice that’s alive and well today, I’m with McNulty on this one. There are so many better ways to decorate your mantel—art! candlesticks! plants!—than with a big, black box.
Lime green and brown
Color choices in the aughts were—questionable, McNulty says. “Lime green and polka dots were huge in the early 2000s,” she says. “If you’re concerned that they might be too garish, every shade of brown imaginable is present to dampen their impact.”
Hanging ball chairs
Cool 2000s apartments had the ultimate accessory: Hanging plastic chairs, so that you could look like a struggling goldfish while relaxing in your home.
The Worst of the 2010s
“Overcomplication is the name of the game in this living room and kitchen,” says McNulty. “Apparently, our lives are now too simple, so we need cupboards we can only reach with a ladder and doors that slide rather than swing open.” Fair enough, though we do love a kitchen ladder.
McNulty wonders if we all “aspire to live in a factory” given our proclivity for industrial-style furniture, lighting, and fixtures. We agree—enough with the Edison bulbs already.
McNuty rags on this reference to school, but we have to say, we’re still fans.
Lack of color
“As for colors? Forget them, everything’s neutral now,” McNulty quips. Please, let’s bring some color back into the kitchen, people!
Overcrowded gallery walls
Look, we love art as much as the next person, but tons of tiny frames smooshed into a small space—while other walls remain empty—may not be the best solution.
Can I get an “amen?!” HomeAdvisor is with us on our distaste for ridiculous phrasesplastered throughout your home. “If you have trouble motivating yourself to get out of the bed in the morning, then the 2010s bedroom may be just for you,” they say. “The room comes adorned with a variety of ‘tasteful’ motivational slogans.” When will this trend die?