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56 Things Everyone Had in Their House in the ’90s

Remember running to Blockbuster on Friday nights for the latest VHS release?

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Sponge Painting

Sponge painting was so easy it spread across the country throughout the 1990s. If you think sponge painting from the ’90s looks retro, check out these vintage photos of homes from 50 years ago.

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In ’95, our sister site Family Handyman showcased shutters at home as a way to enhance the architectural look of a room and add visual warmth. Shutters were a popular choice for many in the decade and we can all recall the sound that lightweight shutters made when air from nearby vents moved them up and down.

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Labyrinth Game

This labyrinth game took over houses for about a month or so in the ’90s as everyone rushed out to grab one, only to become bored with it 30 days later. Woodworking pros that we are, decided to build our own for about $40 and eight hours.

Brown and Brass

Clothing went through the grunge period and for a while, the drab browns and brass light fixtures had a similar effect. That coffee table looks like something that later found its way into a college dorm.

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VHS Tapes and DVDs

In the ’90s, we were still a ways away from learning what streaming meant. Instead, we used VCRs to play VHS tapes and worried about the tracking of the VCR. Later in the decade we got DVDs and didn’t have to worry about tracking but we did have to worry about scratches on the DVD. If you still have scuffed up DVDs and CDs, then you need this one tip to bring them to live again.

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Recessed Lighting

Track lighting was all the rage in the ’80s, so in the proceeding decade, recessed lighting took form as a way to hide the unattractive qualities of track lighting.

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Glass Block Wall

Glass block walls appeared in homes in a variety of ways in the ’90s. From showers to dividing walls, to entryway features, we bet you know someone who had this in their house in the ’90s.

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Cassettes and Tall Speakers

When you reflect on things 20 years later, it’s hard to imagine why we needed such large speakers, It was almost like we felt like we could throw a rock concert in our living room. These days a sound bar will power your living room just fine.

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Huge Computer Monitors

Remember watching the pipes screensaver or the 3D maze screensaver on Windows 95 on our PCs? Then you also remember those absolutely huge monitors. Alas, those screen savers have faded away, though there is a site where you can still find them. If you’ve got an old computer that you need to get rid of but still have valuable information on the hard drive, here’s how to destroy your hard drive.

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Bird Scare Balloon

It’s hard to pinpoint when bird scare balloons like this first started appearing everywhere but Family Handyman wrote about it in 1997 as a way to scare off woodpeckers. Woodpeckers caused in excess of $3 million in damage and a Minnesota man shipped some bird scare balloons down to Florida. The balloons worked because they’re somewhat shaped like a bird. The reflection and the movement of the tail simulate movements of a predator bird.  NASA had no more issues with woodpeckers. Get a bird scare balloon if you want to drive away woodpeckers.

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Sliding Glass Door Bar

Home security was never simpler than placing a bar behind your sliding glass door. Any home with a sliding glass door also some kind of rod or bar behind it to prevent break-ins.

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Alarm Clock

Alarm clocks are certainly still around but younger generations are relying more and more upon their phones to wake them up. Not every house will have an alarm clock anymore but they used to have them.

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Chevy Astro Van

Maybe not every house had one, but there was likely one on every block at one time in the ’90s. We’re talking about the Chevy Astro van. The Astro was introduced in 1985 and was GM’s first minivan. Whatever era your car is from, keep it clean with these 13 tricks.

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For those who didn’t like the look of a huge monitor, there was the emergence of the laptop computer. The early models were indeed a compact option but the mouse could be tough to figure out.

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Any kind of playground around seemed to have a tower similar to this style in the ’90s. We can still smell the mulch.



POGs was a milk-cap game originally played for decades during breaks by Hawaiian dairy workers. At that time the game was called Menko. In 1991, teacher Blossom Galbiso reintroduced the game in her classroom in the form of a math game. The game involves players facing off by contributing the same number of cardboard POGs to a large stack, all placed face down. The first player aims, shoots and slaps down that slammer on the stack, with whatever POG flying out and landing face up now belonging to that player. As POGs evolved, “slammers” were introduced, which were thick and made of metal, rubber or plastic.

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Legos were the bane of any parent when they stepped on them but just about every kid had a set or two of them. Did you know Legos are worth a small fortune now, depending upon what you have? You can use this nifty guide that tells you which vintage childhood items are actually worth money

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Rollerblades could be found under any Christmas tree back in the ’90s as inline skates skyrocketed in popularity. Family Handyman showed off kids wearing them around in a 1992 issue.

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Brita Water Filter

How did we ever drink water before it was filtered through a Brita? These things started showing up in homes in the ’90s and pretty soon everyone had filtered water.

Game Boy system robtek/Shutterstock

Nintendo GameBoy

GameBoy revolutionized video games, taking the game from the couch to the streets. The first eight-bit handheld video game system to utilize cartridges, GameBoy was the brainchild of long-time Nintendo employee Gunpei Yokoi.

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By the time the ’90s rolled around nearly everyone had a VCR in their home and the local Blockbuster was packed on Friday nights. VCRs were also lightning rods for children to stuff toys and apparently, sandwiches, into. While VCRs played an essential role in entertainment back in the ’90s, these vintage photos show what life was like back in the 1950s.

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The Barney Talking Doll was created by Greg Hyman and distributed by Playskool. Released in 1993, it became one of the biggest fads during that holiday season. There have been at least four different versions of the doll produced throughout Playskool’s time making Barney toys.

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Beanie Babies

A line of stuffed animal plush toys, Beanie Babies were stuffed with plastic pellets (“beans”) instead of the usual soft-toy stuffing. The idea behind the design was that it looked real because it moved. Beanie Babies are cited as the world’s first Internet sensation in 1995.

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Tickle Me Elmo

From at least one stampede of parents that left a store employee in the hospital, to two women being arrested in Chicago for fighting over the doll, it’s safe to say 1996 was a big year for Elmo. The doll would chortle when squeezed once, and shake and laugh hysterically when squeezed three times in a row.

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Five diverse teenagers with superpowers flooded TV screens in the early ’90s, creating a major ad that turned into a line of toys featuring the Power Rangers. Along with their giant robotic dinosaurs, called Zords, they fought evil aliens. For those of you who played with Barbies instead of Power Rangers, make sure you know which vintage Barbies are worth a fortune today.

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This egg-shaped computer offered kids a fun way to “parent” a digital pet. The toy even required feeding and poo-cleaning. There have been 70 million Tamagotchis sold to date.


Pokémon Cards

The Pokémon Trading Card Game was first published in 1996 by Media Factory, but other card series came to light following, and by 1999 the cards were a huge hit. The most expensive single Pokémon card is the Pokémon Illustrator card. Only 39 were ever made, and at one point the card was available on eBay for $100,000.

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Primary Colors

Bright colors tend to indicate the strength of the economy. When colors turn brighter in clothing and decor, it’s generally because the economy is performing well. That’s what happened in the mid-’90s and it often took the form of primary colors in home decor.

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The Furby—a furry robot that could talk and blink its eyes—became a major fad in 1998. Originally retailing for $35, the toy skyrocketed to $100 thanks to the craze. More than 40 million Furbies were sold during the three years of its original production, and 1.8 million alone were sold in 1998. Furby may have been popular in the ’90s, but these were the most popular toys in the year you were born.

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Décor in the ’90s tended to include a lot of plants, whether real or fake, and plants on the wallpaper to create a frilly look.

Floral Patterns

Floral patterns made an impact on walls too. A block painting pad helped dress up a kitchen wall painted purple. Floral patterns are still considered cool but the ’90s might’ve overdone the whole thing.

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Faux Plants

Floral prints and patterns weren’t enough for everyone in the ’90s. So people cranked it to 11 with fake potted plants like these. At least you didn’t have to remember to water them?


Wallpaper is making a comeback, just not this wallpaper. Floral anything was huge in the decade that brought us The Rosie O’Donnell Show and her Koosh Ball Slingshot. If you’ve been staring at wallpaper that has to go, here’s the best way to remove wallpaper.

Thick Carpet

Thick carpet might be thought to provide a more durable flooring option and maybe that was part of the appeal in the 1990s. Colorful carpet did hold a certain appeal in the decade, too.

Rag-Rolled Walls

Textured painted walls were all the rage as Clarissa explained it all and we all wondered if Ross and Rachel would ever get together.

Light Oak

Oak cabinets are still pervasive so it’s solely a ’90s trend necessarily. But they were especially ubiquitous in the ’90s. Don’t miss these 13 other once-popular kitchen trends that are on the way out.

Arched Windows

Arched windows are a staple of the McMansion, which we all know is never to be followed for design inspiration.

Above Cabinet Decorating

This perfectly ’90s kitchen is decorated above the cabinets with some fake plants, which was acceptable then. It’s not anymore and neither is the arched window, though it does provide a gorgeous fall view.


Points for the determination to carry out a project completely with this tile job. This project from 1997 looks gorgeous for its time, but it might be a little too lively right now.

Patterns on Patterns

The Internet was just emerging, we could talk to anyone over a computer, and we couldn’t completely trust they were telling the truth … we needed order and patterns on top of patterns emerged.

Faux Granite

Many people still have and want granite countertops though it seems to have started falling out of favor in the last few years. The paneling above the countertop here is faux granite and people liked the look in the 1990s. Of course, people liked that the Rolling Stones released Voodoo Lounge in 1994, too.

Hunter Green

This color is a little lighter than hunter green but it’s close enough that it’ll trigger the memories of seeing hunter green everywhere you went. This color on your walls is as good a sign as the 22 ways your house is making you look old, that you need to update.

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Off-Color Shower Tiles

If you look closely there are more floral patterns with this shower tile from a 1997 project. It’s a far cry from what’s playing now like wood planks, neutral colors, and subway tile.

CD and Cassette Cabinets

A CD cabinet played a pivotal role in the home and had to be near that six-CD stereo. It’s certainly anachronistic to see one in a home now but kids from the ’90s will certainly remember trying to depress the magnetic locking mechanism just right so the glass would open to provide access to that killer Hootie and the Blowfish album.

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Faux Columns

Columns should connote class but they look better on the exterior of a home. It didn’t stop people in the ’90s from trying to bring them inside though, especially that McMansion crowd.

Striped Awnings

This awning works perfectly well with the home which was part of a 1998 story in Family Handyman. It’ll bring back those moments of sipping lemonade on the porch.


Purple was a big color trend across several platforms. Purple was especially hot for vehicles beginning in 1994. Trends tend to be cyclical and you might not be surprised by what Pantone picked as its color of the year for 2018.

Rope Lights

Rope lights came around later in the decade but boy were they cool in your room or at the prom.

Iron Railings

Whoever thought these were a good idea must not have had kids. Or pets. But hey, at least it’s not as bad as that flooring.

Dark Oak

Everyone had this in their home at some point it seemed. It was so common that you could forget whose home you were in sometimes, especially if the cabinets were organized the same way.

Huge Entertainment Centers

The advent of flat-screen TVs made the old entertainment center somewhat obsolete. But the entertainment center in the ’90s was exactly that. The place to rummage through the VHS copies of ET, Hook, or anyone of those bootleg recordings of movies played on HBO that your rich neighbor recorded for you.


Chandeliers maybe don’t qualify as a trend because people still have them in a lot of houses but the type shown here held a certain popularity in the ’90s. It’s another example of a decade that tried to create classy looks cheaply. Here are the vintage kitchen items worth way more than you think.

Glass Tables

Glass tables were probably a little more prevalent in the homes of older folks in the ’90s but they were there and so were those great looking chairs for the dinette set.


Pastels probably move in and out of cycles more than any other colors but in the ’90s they had a place, just like in this kitchen.

Huge Window Treatments

It’s as though people attended a few too many Renaissance fairs in the 1990s because the McMansions sometimes had turrets like castles and other homes decided to have bulky window treatments like royal palaces. What a pain it would be to clean them.

Ornate Cabinet Handles

Fancy handles on kitchen cabinets appeared in houses in the 1990s before more practical knobs came into popularity. Now that you’ve reminisced about all the things everyone had in the ’90s, take a look at what your favorite snack brands used to look like when they first hit supermarket shelves.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Originally Published on The Family Handyman

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