The dining table is arguably the most important piece of furniture in a home. It’s where your family gathers for dinner, where breakfast is served. It’s where kids do homework or Mom and Dad catch up on work they didn’t finish at the office. Friends and family gather around it for Thanksgiving dinner or a party on the weekend. A lot happens on single piece of furniture.
The importance of the dining table demands a certain amount of gravitas in it’s selection. A simple mistake – too large of a table for the room, for instance – can have a rippling effect on your family’s home life.
Every family is different. Some families eat every meal at the dining table. Some only only use it for more formal occasions, such as holiday dinners or extravagant parties.
And the use should dictate the style of dining table. You want to get the most use possible out of your dining table. Pick something that meets the needs of you and your family. If you eat in often, pick a table that will sit the whole family, plus a few extra. If you rarely sit down together, get something cozier.
Of course, you can’t fit a conference-length table in a cozy, 8′ x 10′ dining space. You know that. But there are also some other hard rules when it comes to considering your table’s fit.
When shopping, don’t just think about the footprint of the table – think about the space the dining table AND guests will take up. You need at least 3 feet of clearance between the wall and the table on all sides.
And don’t forget chairs. They contribute to the size of the table. Your guests will more than likely sit with the seat partially, if not all the way, out from the table. That 3 feet of clearance will give you and guests plenty of room to move about the dining table. Really, the more space, the better.
If you simply can’t give up that much space to your table, a pedestal table is the way to go. A single, center base leaves lots of room under the table for everyone’s legs.
The two most common dining table shapes are rectangular and circular. Both shapes have their benefits, as well as drawbacks.
Rectangular dining tables are the easiest to fit in a dining room, for one simple fact – most dining rooms are also rectangular. This also makes it easy to size the dining table. Most rectangular dining tables are between 36″ and 42″ across, which provides ample room for two place settings and a center piece. The length of the shouldn’t be more than 6 feet shorter than the length of the room.
One major drawback of rectangular tables come with the corners. If space in the dining room is tight, it is difficult to navigate around the corners when the table is full. Also, no one wants to sit at a corner seat.
If you’re planning on a smaller dining table, a circular or round table is preferred. It allows everyone at the table to see each other equally. There’s no yelled conversations down a long table like you see in movies.
Of course, a round table offers less surface area for eating than a rectangular table with a similar footprint. When the table is crowded, this will limit both serving space and elbow room.
You can find a compromise of the two shapes in the oval table. The oval table will give you a little more space to squeeze around in a rectangular dining room, since the corners are cut off. You can still get the length that you would want with a rectangular table, but without sacrificing the equanimity of the round table.