54 Things Everyone had in Their House in the ’90s

Updated: Sep. 15, 2023

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

1 / 54
Family Handyman

Sponge Painting

We covered rag-rolled painting, which really is just a variant of the uber-popular sponge painting of the ’90s. Sponge painting was so easy it spread across the country throughout the 1990s. Bring back sponge painting, if you want, after reading these tips.

2 / 54
Family Handyman


In ’95 we 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 lightweight shutters made when air from nearby vents moved them up and down. Shutters aren’t nearly as en vogue now but they make great repurposing projects.

3 / 54
Family Handyman

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. We’re still showing you ways to use recessed lights for dramatic effects in a room. Back in ’96 we showed you eyeball lighting, so called because the lighting unit moved and allowed you to focus a spotlight. In our story we said you could focus the light on your favorite Bart Simpson doll. Maybe you still can.

4 / 54
Family Handyman

Glass Block Wall

We’ve shown any number of glass block projects through the years, like a glass block shower and a glass block basement window. Glass block walls appeared in homes in a variety of ways in the ’90s. We wrote back in ’96 that glass block hit an all-time low 20 years ago but that it’d returned with a splash. So while it maybe didn’t appear in every home, it certainly was trendy.

5 / 54
Family Handyman

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. Check out our ultimate buying guide to a home theater, sound system and wireless speakers if you want to get set up in style. Maybe you toss those cassette tapes, too.

6 / 54
Family Handyman

Bird Scare Balloon

It’s hard to pinpoint when bird scare balloons like this first started appearing everywhere but we wrote about it in 1997 as a way to scare off woodpeckers. There’s also a video from 1994 out there that says NASA used them to scare woodpeckers away from the fuel tank of the shuttle. 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 a bird scare balloon at Amazon if you want to drive away woodpeckers or check out some more hints on how to deter woodpeckers.

7 / 54
Family Handyman

Sliding Glass Door Bar

Home security never got simpler it seemed 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. Check out 22 other inexpensive ways to theft-proof your home.

8 / 54
Family Handyman

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.

9 / 54
Family Handyman

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. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins still drives around in the GMC version of the Astro—the Safari.

Keep your family’s vehicle clean with these 46 car detailing tips.

10 / 54
Family Handyman

Huge Computer Monitors

When everyone was running Windows 95 on their PCs, they were watching the pipes screensaver or the 3D maze screensaver. They were also viewing those screen savers on 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. (Don’t worry the link isn’t an executable.)

11 / 54
Family Handyman


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 and the mouse could be tough to figure out. If you have an old laptop computer you no longer use, here’s what you can do with it.

12 / 54
Family Handyman


By 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. That’s why we came up with handy hint to place plexiglass in front of where you inserted the video. Do you remember how to clean a VCR head? It’s one of 10 formerly important tasks people don’t know how to do anymore.

13 / 54
Family Handyman


Any kind of playground around seemed to have a tower similar to this style in the ’90s. We showed people how to build this playground set to make it safe for kids to enjoy. We used mulch to make safe landing spots for kids jumping around. Check out awesome playsets that are out there now.

14 / 54
Family Handyman


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.

15 / 54
Family Handyman


Rollerblades could be found under any Christmas tree back in the ’90s as inline skates skyrocketed in popularity. We showed off kids wearing them around in a 1992 issue. Keeping the skates together and organized with other sports equipment could be a challenge but we’ve always had sports equipment storage solutions.

16 / 54
Brita Water Filter
Family Handyman

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. Here’s what you need to know to find the best water filter out there. Or you can always just pick up a Brita at Amazon.

17 / 54
Family Handyman

Primary Colors

Bright color 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. Follow these tips on choosing paint colors next time you’ve got a painting task.

18 / 54
Family Handyman


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. See what trends are in style this year.

19 / 54
Family Handyman


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.

20 / 54
Family Handyman

Floral Patterns

Floral patterns made an impact on walls too, as our 1996 December/January issue shows. A block painting pad helped dress up a kitchen wall painted purple. Floral patterns are still considered cool but the ’90s might’ve overdid the whole thing.

21 / 54
Family Handyman


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.

22 / 54
Family Handyman


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.

23 / 54
Family Handyman

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. Faux plants are one of the things that can make a room look cluttered. Follow these 15 tips to make a small room seem bigger.

24 / 54
Family Handyman

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. Pet owners need to know these tips to remove stains from carpet.

25 / 54
Family Handyman

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. Our publication featured a story on how to create the look in a 1998 issue right around the time Ross started dating Emily.

Follow these tips to paint faster.

26 / 54
Family Handyman

Light Oak

Oak cabinets are still pervasive so it’s solely a ’90s trend necessarily. But they were especially ubiquitous in the ’90s. You might want to paint kitchen cabinets to update the look of your kitchen, though.

27 / 54
Family Handyman

Arched Windows

Arched windows are a staple of the McMansion, which we all know is never to be followed for design inspiration. Check out ridiculous real estate listing photos that include some McMansions.

28 / 54
Family Handyman

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. Hunter green is one of the 12 signs your home is dated, find out the other 11 things and how to avoid them.

29 / 54
Family Handyman

Above Cabinet Decorating

This perfectly ’90s kitchen decorated above the cabinets with some fake plants, which was acceptable then. It’s not any more and neither is the arched window, though it does provide a gorgeous fall view. These home improvement projects are affordable and easy.

30 / 54
Family Handyman


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. See how to make over a bathroom on a budget.

31 / 54
Family Handyman

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.

See what’s trending in tile these days.

32 / 54
Family Handyman

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.

Check out this guide to buying countertops if it’s time for an upgrade.

33 / 54
Family Handyman

Off-Color Shower Tiles

If you look closely there is 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. Make your shower look better with these 13 tile tips.

34 / 54
Family Handyman

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.

Forget a CD cabinet and check out 33 of the most gorgeous bookshelves you can build.

35 / 54
Family Handyman

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.

36 / 54
Family Handyman

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.

37 / 54
Family Handyman

Striped Awnings

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

38 / 54
Family Handyman

Rope Lights

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

39 / 54
Family Handyman

Iron Railings

Whoever thought these were a good idea must not have had kids. In a 1999 issue we replaced the dated guard rail with a really cool class and wood rail that has aged considerably better.

If you have a busted spindle, you’ll need to know this tip to fix it without having to call someone.

40 / 54
Family Handyman

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. If you have old cabinets like this or are looking at buying a place with old cabinets, updating them is easier than you think.

41 / 54
Family Handyman

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 your rich neighbor recorded for you.

Save on installation costs by mounting a TV yourself.

42 / 54


Goosebumps books

Author R.L. Stine captivated young readers with his popular Goosebumps series, which was a hit in the ’90s. Stine has published hundreds of children’s books with a horror/science fiction plot.

43 / 54

Family Handyman

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 where those great looking chairs for the dinette set.

44 / 54
Family Handyman


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. Dusty pink and mint greens are showing up in bedroom paint jobs, check out the other 11 hot color trends in bedrooms.

45 / 54
Family Handyman

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. Look at these 10 awesome ideas for window treatments for an updated look.

46 / 54
Family Handyman

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.

47 / 54

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. Check out these 25 cool game room ideas.

Buy something similar now on Amazon.

48 / 54


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. You may also like these seven outdoor games you can make with stuff you already have.

Buy it now on Amazon.

49 / 54


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. Whether it’s a hobby or you’re looking to make the perfect doll house for your little one, toothpicks can be a big help!

Buy it now on Amazon.

50 / 54

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. These home trends of the ’90s include some we’d rather forget and some that still work. See the 30 home trends kids of the ’90s remember.

Buy it now on Amazon.

51 / 54


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.

Buy something similar now on Amazon.

52 / 54
Family Handyman

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. Check out 25 other crazy toy fad that captured everyone’s attention for a spell.

53 / 54


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. Here are 10 things you should know about recycling electronics.

Buy it now on Amazon.

54 / 54
Family Handyman

Ornate Cabinet Handles

Fancy handles on kitchen cabinets appeared in houses in the 1990s before more practical knobs came into popularity. Discover these easy kitchen cabinet repairs you can DIY.