Neutrals are anything but dull in this incredible dining room transformation

This red dining room has been given a sophisticated glow-up

A homeowner gave her red and cluttered dining room a huge overhaul with stone wallpaper and a neutral colour palette that is unrecognisable.

Emily Bristow, from Godalming, Surrey, was desperate to give her unloved scheme a much-needed boost and had already resigned herself to the fact that she'd need to declutter before she got started.

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

Luckily, after browsing lots of dining room ideas and inspiration for budget dining rooms, Emily settled on a new scheme and began the transformation.

Neutral dining room makeover

As well as being used for mealtimes and homework, Emily also has friends and family over regularly. It was important to her that the room was practical for entertaining and everyday life, but that also felt more like 'her'.

'I hadn't updated any of the accessories in years and a lot of them were inherited or things I no longer liked,' she says. 'It's also a really dark, bleak room, so I wanted a new look to help it feel lighter.'


dining room with round table and chairs

(Image credit: TBC)

The mismatched room had elements of red, wood and grey, but lacked any real style. The kids' toys  were out on show, along with coats and other household items.

Keen to keep costs down, Emily decided to keep her dining table and update it with some new chairs – ones that are easy to clean if the children spill or drop anything. 'The table is a good size for this room, and the round shape means we don't bump into the corners when walking through from the living room to the kitchen,' she says. 

A deep red paint made the fireplace wall stand out but meant the darkroom felt even more dreary. 'I wanted it to feel much brighter in here, but without appearing clinical,' says Emily. 'And that fireplace wall is the perfect spot for a feature wallpaper, so I decided to just go for it!'


dining room with white kitchen shelves

(Image credit: TBC)

The new decor has given the room a light-filled look that's on-trend and full of interest. It's made a huge difference to the way Emily feels about the space.

'I painted the walls in a gentle taupe colour and then chose a wallpaper from Home Essentials, which is where I got most of my new accessories from,' she says. 'Prices were affordable enough that I could get a more luxury look for less, which really helped when it came to the budget.'

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

Get the look: Church Stone natural wallpaper, £11, Home Essentials

dining room with plant in pots

(Image credit: TBC)

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

Above, a range of prints from Etsy adds interest to the wall, while faux plants add greenery to the neutral scheme. ‘It means I get the benefit of having a botanical look without having to water them!’ she says. ‘I especially love the artificial bamboo tree.’

Get the look:

Matisse print gallery wall set, £70,55, Etsy

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

dining room with white table and wooden chair

(Image credit: TBC)

New rattan chairs are not only in keeping with the scheme, but offer a practical dining solution with young children. ‘I can just wipe them down, rather than having to try and get stains out of my previous existing ones,' says Emily.

'I’ve added some tie-on seat pads to make them extra comfy as we spend a lot of time around this table.’

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

wooden shelves with fabric storage basket

(Image credit: TBC)

The storage unit was updated with boxes that pull out easily and hide more of the children's toys neatly away. ‘Because all the boys’ books and puzzles are now in the storage boxes, it's freed up some shelves, which I can use for dining utensils, like extra bowls and glasses.'

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

round wooden tray with flower in vase

(Image credit: TBC)

‘I’ve never had the incentive to dress my table before, but adding a linen tablecloth, vases of dried flowers and someplace settings have really made it look stylish,' says Emily. 'I even bought some new natural-coloured crockery and some rattan trays to complete the look.'

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

Have you been inspired by this dreamy neutral makeover?

Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at