New ways with neutrals – different approaches to muted tones

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Using neutral tones in your home is a stylish way to create a look that channels understated chic. And you don’t have to add riotous splashes of colour or bold prints to inject interest into a space with muted tones.

It can sometimes seem tricky to know how to breathe life into a pared-back home decor scheme, but there are a host of innovative and new ways you can elevate a neutral space.

The key to styling a room with muted tones is to play with different textures and materials. Team mango wood with rattan, for example, for a lovely vintage Scandi look that oozes warmth and character.

Don’t be afraid to mix different shades of wood – it doesn’t always have to match – with dark brown hues looking wonderful with blonder shades.

Make the most of wood’s natural character, and play with the direction of the grain and slats of timber for a visually striking look that maintains its tonal style. And, when you do add colour, make it a rich shade that blends and anchors without stealing the show.

We’ve teamed up with the experts over at Swoon to bring you five ideas for styling neutrals. Keep reading to find out how to give your muted tones a lived-in yet luxe lift…

Tones of timber

Gone are the days when everything had to be matchy-matchy. In fact, it’s now deemed more desirable to play with contrasting colours, tones and textures for a look that’s sleek yet brimming with life.

Employ the technique of mixing timber tones for a subtle way to add character to any room. In the dining room, why not opt for a dark-hued Ginsberg dining table paired with blond chairs? It’s a soft and simple way to inject interest into a space.

Sam Baldry, Head of Design at Swoon says: ‘It’s pretty hard to go wrong with this technique, but a key tip would be to experiment with different types of timber, while different colours and tones will really help to accentuate and enhance this styling.’

Strong accents

Introducing a strong-yet-soothing accent colour is a rich and sumptuous way to anchor an otherwise neutral room. A deep midnight-blue works beautifully when paired with raw, organic muted tones.

Add colour to one wall while keeping the furniture in front of it earthy and natural. A pale wood desk with fluted panelling is ideal for adding easy texture, while a Berber-style floor covering like Swoon’s Massa rug works wonders in any space.

Finish by adding flashes of luxe, like a marble and metallic table lamp, for a slice of grandeur mixed with softer styling accessories, like pampas grass, for a soft look with a little spark.

Texture does the talking

Mixing different textures in a room creates a warm space that exudes character. Pair exposed brick walls with unfinished woods and rustic flooring for on-trend but lived-in looks.

You can also choose furniture that mixes fantastic wooden texture with a little dash of luxury, like the Kiln cabinet from Swoon, whose brass legs are a small-but-mighty metallic accent that elevates the style to a refined charm. Its timber door slats are joined at an angle to create depth as well as texture, creating a real talking point piece.

Wire, ceramic, leather and stone accessories and vases add further texture while maintaining the natural materials and neutral tones.

Beige on beige

Keep things tonal for a style that’s character-rich and homely. ‘This look is all about layering natural tones and materials to create a soft, relaxed look that feels warm,’ explains Sam Baldry.

‘Essential to making this styling sing is making sure the tones in your palette aren’t too different but never exactly the same – which sounds like a riddle but you’ll know if it’s worked because your space shouldn’t feel like it was styled to match.’

The Raphia TV stand perfectly embodies the look, with its light-toned hue mixing boho rattan doors with a mango wood frame.

Take direction

Not only is wood an eco-friendly and beautiful way to add character and texture to a space, it’s also excellent for implementing pattern and form with a natural material.

Sam explains: ‘At Swoon we love playing with grain direction as a way of introducing natural texture, depth and pattern. And in styling your space you can also use this technique, layering pieces together achieves the same effect.’

Try pairing a vertically-panelled wall with Swoon’s horizontally-lined Weaving sideboard for a neutral yet impactful effect that also offers a nod to a pleasing retro Scandi style.

For more inspiration and design-led natural furniture pieces, visit