Neutral dining room ideas – for stylishly understated fine dining

These neutral dining room ideas show you that a well put-together look doesn't need to shout to be heard. In a room made for entertaining, sometimes less is more
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  • These neutral dining room ideas show that a simple colour scheme can be the key to creating a blissful, easy to live with look that requires no frills to be fabulous.

    Leading by example, Scandinavian homes use neutral backdrops to create harmonious, effortlessly cool vibes in every room. This works especially well in a dining room, where it’s key to create a laid-back environment for all to feel at ease to eat, drink and be merry.

    Neutral dining room ideas

    Whether it’s gathering for everyday family meals or hosting dinner parties for friends, let your neutral dining room play the perfect understated backdrop. Below we share our favourite neutral dining room ideas and explain how to create the look in your home.

    This fail-safe decorating scheme means you can combine any amount of paint, fabric and accessories, as long as you keep to a simple muted palette. Wooden furniture sits seamlessly into the scheme, adding warmth and texture.

    What is considered a neutral colour?

    Essentially, neutral decorating means without colour. Neutrals such as ivory, beige, taupe and white appear to be without colour, but in many applications these hues often have multiple undertones requiring just as much consideration as when decorating with stronger colours.

    1. Layer natural materials

    A neutral dining space with a wooden table, chairs and pampas grass

    Image credit: Jo Henderson

    Highlight your neutral dining room ideas with pops of charcoal and terracotta to prevent the scheme from looking too monotone. These natural materials add a hint of alternative muted tone without being overwhelming.

    Keep touches minimal to keep the overall scheme relaxed and understated but with an edge. Or if you’re feeling brave you could add a further pop of mustard yellow or burnt orange.

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    2. Embrace nature around the table

    A neutral dining room with a wooden table decorated with a table cloth and vases

    Image credit: David Brittain

    Welcome nature to the table by adding soft decorative elements. From fresh flower centrepieces to embroidered table linens and printed crockery for serving. Delicate foliage can help to enhance the look without overpowering the paired back essence of a neutral scheme.

    For the foliage the top tip is to keep it simple – less is more. Work with sparse stems and create simple, yet captivating displays to hold court.

    3. Add pops of colour with art

    A neutral dining room with a polka dot table cloth and white chairs

    Image credit: David Giles

    You can choose to have an all-neutral paint scheme but still add a touch of personality with artwork and complementary dining table decor ideas. Art on the walls gives you the freedom to be more experimental. You can change it as often as you like unlike the commitment of painting the walls.

    Also artwork in a dining room can help strike a conversation and inspire others. Get your guests talking with your art choices.

    4. Choose neutral for furniture choices

    neural dining room with plate rack shelving

    Image credit: Tim Young

    Clay and stone pigments are beautifully paired with natural wooden furniture choices to create a harmonious relaxed scheme. Keeping the furniture choices strictly neutral allows you to play with alternative colours more.

    Washed out pigments can still be defined as neutral in the world of decorating. Take this muted grey/green for instance. Because it doesn’t jar with the tones around it, the pigment blends seamlessly.

    5. Paint the chairs to incorporate more neutral tones

    A wooden dining table and chairs in a large, white dining space

    Image credit: Jeremy Phillips

    Rustic wooden touches can help to add warmth to a neutral white dining room decorating scheme to prevent the light tones from feeling cold. The last thing you want in a dining space is the feeling of frostiness. If you want to marry the two decorative elements why not update wooden furniture with a splash of paint to create a more harmonious look.

    6. Add subtle pastel tones

    neutral dining room with pastel yellow chairs and a wooden table

    Image credit: David Parmiter

    If you want to introduce hints of colour into a neutral dining chair start by injecting soft, pastel tones. More desaturated tones lend themselves perfectly as accompanying colours for all neutral shades due to their calming effect.

    7. Highlight with white

    A white dining space with a wooden door and dining table

    Image credit: Robert Sanderson

    Use bright white to contrast against stronger neutral tones on the paint scale. This can help to give aspects of interest more prominence, such as ceilings to create the illusion of height or door frames to add depth. Using different degrees of neutral shades can help to prevent it from looking lifeless and flat as shown in this shabby chic dining room.

    8. Use a neutral rug to zone a dining area

    A dining space with wooden furniture next to large glass doors

    Image credit: Matt Cant

    The power of a rug is often overlooked. While they are a great source for adding accent colour and pattern, they are also ideal for helping to create zones in our homes, and more specifically within certain rooms.

    As the trend for open-plan living rooms and kitchens increases, often a dining area is housed within a larger room where it can lose it’s individual identity. Using a natural seagrass rug with a neutral trim can help to anchor the look.

    9. Welcome the beauty of brickwork

    A neutral dining room with an exposed brick wall, large wall clock and pendant lights

    Image credit: Rachel Smith

    Keep everything tonal with your paint, fabric and furniture choices and let the brickwork become the focus. Exposed brick helps to add interest and texture to any room, especially a neutral one. Incorporating natural brick helps to welcome an element of industrial style to your dining room. Add a large station clock and metal light pendants to enhance the vibes.

    10. Accentuate neutrals with bold accent colours

    White dining room with slate flooring and a large wooden dining table

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    Let your neutral palette stand out against surrounding accent colours. Give off-white walls and neutral furniture pieces more definition against a striking slate floor for instance. A darker floor choice helps to ground the pared-back look and give further prominence to the softer paint palette by contrast.

    11. Use layers to add depth to neutrals

    A neutral dining space with light blue painted table and chairs and cream walls

    Image credit: Spike Powell

    A dining room welcomes texture to add warmth and interest – one without can feel dull and lifeless. The layers of beige on beige adds hidden depth to the neutral tonal palette.

    Layering up tactile linens, lace and embroidery on table linens, soft furnishings and curtain treatments can add warmth and cosiness in abundance, and picking artfully mismatched accessories is a stylish shabby chic decorating idea.

    Textured flooring can help to provide further warmth. Just be mindful of the setting and be sure not to spill while dining.

    12. Use modern design for a contemporary edge

    A neutral dining table with clear plastic chairs and a vase of roses

    Image credit: Rachael Smith

    Neutral doesn’t always mean the look has to mean traditional, it’s just often the case due to the cream colour palette having a more country-style edge. But it all depends on how you choose to style it. That’s the beauty of a neutral space.

    If you want to incorporate neutral decorating into a modern dining room why not opt for contemporary style furniture choices? Stylish clear acrylic chairs are as neutral as design gets, in the sense that they hold no colour whatsoever. This also makes them a great small dining room idea, as they appear to take up less space visually.

    Choose dining chairs with arms to add a more comfortable aspect for your diners.

    13. Upholster chairs to fit the scheme

    A neutral dining room with a traditional wooden table and yellow tulips

    Image credit: Rachel Smith

    It may be the case that you have plenty of perfectly comfortable dining chairs, they just don’t fit your desire for an all-neutral decorating theme. Simply have upholstered covers made up, or better still fashion them yourself, to make them more in-keeping with your new style choice.

    Dining chairs dressed with covers help to lend more of an occasional feel to a dining room, so this idea could be saved for best rather than used for everyday dining.

    How can I make my neutral dining room look cosy?

    Always think about the lighting. The right lighting is key when it comes to creating cosy ambience, even more so in a dining room to set the mood for the dining occasion. Making sure you have different lighting options is a good place to start, dimmable switches for instance are ideal to lower the lights for more intimate dinners.

    Adding candles and even lamps can help to offer a softer lighting approach if you only have overhead lights. With neutral colour choices different levels of light can help to add atmosphere.

    Are you all set to go neutral when dining?

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