Neutrals are anything but boring in this amazing dining room makeover

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  • A homeowner has given his red, cluttered dining room a huge overhaul with stone wallpaper and a neutral color palette that’s unrecognizable.

    Emily Bristow, from Godalming, Surrey, was desperate to give her unloved plan a much-needed boost and had already resigned herself to the fact that she would need to declutter before starting.

    “I have two young boys,” says Emily, “so I needed storage for the toys and homework they tend to do at the dining table, but I also wanted the room to be more stylish. ” Getting the combination of the two was the struggle!

    Luckily, after going through many dining room ideas and getting inspired for budget dining rooms, Emily settled on a new scheme and started the transformation.

    neutral dining room makeover

    As well as being used for meals and homework, Emily regularly entertains friends and family. It was important to her that the room be practical for entertainment and for everyday life, but it was also more like her.

    “I hadn’t updated any of the props in years and a lot of them were legacy or things I didn’t like anymore,” she says. “It’s also a very dark, dark room, so I wanted a new look to help it feel lighter.”


    The mismatched piece had elements of red, wood, and gray, but lacked style. Children’s toys were on display, along with coats and other household items.

    Keen to cut costs, Emily decided to keep her dining table and upgrade it with new chairs, which are easy to clean if the kids spill or drop anything. “The table is a good size for this room, and the round shape means we don’t bump into corners as we move from the living room to the kitchen,” she says.

    Dark red paint made the fireplace wall stand out, but meant the dark room was even more drab. “I wanted it to be a lot brighter here, but without looking clinical,” says Emily. “And this fireplace wall is the perfect place for a wallpaper, so I decided to go for it!”


    The new decor makes the room look bright, trendy and full of interest. It made a huge difference in how Emily experiences the space.

    “I painted the walls a soft taupe color and then chose a wallpaper from Home Essentials, where I got most of my new accessories from,” she says. “The prices were affordable enough that I could get a more luxurious look for less, which really helped me with the budget.”

    “All the brown, beige and soft cream colors mixed with materials such as bamboo, jute and wood created a beautifully warm and light scheme – I couldn’t be happier.”

    Get the look: Natural Church Stone Wallpaper, £11, Home Essentials

    Much of the previous clutter has been relocated to give her more room, but Emily has kept an old chest she uses to store toys. The addition of cushions and a throw on top means it can be used as extra seating when needed.

    Above, a range of prints from Etsy add interest to the wall, while faux plants add greenery to the neutral scheme. “That means I have the advantage of having a botanical look without having to water them down!” she says. “I particularly like the artificial bamboo.”

    Have the look:

    Matisse Print Gallery Wall Set, £70.55, Etsy

    Mixed succulents in wooden wall planter, £69, Home Essentials

    The new rattan chairs not only conform to the scheme, but offer a practical dining solution with young children. “I can just wipe them away, rather than having to try to remove stains from my old existing ones,” says Emily.

    “I added tie-in seat cushions to make them more comfortable as we spend a lot of time around this table.”

    Get the look: Emilio dining chairs, £239 for two, Home Essentials

    The storage unit has been updated with boxes that easily remove and hide more children’s toys. “Because all the boys’ books and puzzles are now in the storage boxes, it frees up shelves, which I can use for dining utensils, like extra bowls and glasses.”

    Get the look: fabric storage baskets, £8 for two, Home Essentials

    “I’ve never had the urge to dress my table before, but adding a linen tablecloth, vases of dried flowers and other decor really made it look elegant,” says Emily. “I even bought some new natural-colored tableware and rattan trays to complete the look.”

    Get the look: Batu trays, £49 for two, Home Essentials

    Were you inspired by this dreamy neutral makeover?

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