Different design choices can have hugely different impacts on a space. Dining tables are often focal points that family and guests will spend a lot of time sitting at. This guide will help you choose the perfect dining room table that will blend seamlessly with your current design.
For an overview of how different dining room tables suit various interior design styles, check out our guide to real wood dining room tables. It talks about live-edge tables, contemporary tables, farmhouse tables, and many more.
How to Choose the Right Size Dining Table
No matter how much thought you put into the design of your table, the size will be the most important factor. The perfect table won’t be so perfect if half your family ends up standing. Dining chairs complicate matters, including how well they fit under the table and how much room they take up when being pushed out from the table during use. This means that, unfortunately, finding the right size dining room table can take some planning.
Measure the length and width of your dining area. A general rule of thumb is that you’ll want to have at least 3 feet of space between the table and wall on all sides, with more space at the ends in an ideal situation to avoid crowding the space.
That’s just a guideline, however. Don’t forget to consider any other furniture, such as TV stands that may cut into that 3 feet or more of space. If you have family or guests who tend to sit further away from the table, you may need extra room to ensure people can still walk by.
Don’t forget the very important decision of deciding how many people will be seated at the table.
Picking the Best Tabletop Shape for Your Space
Depending on how much space you have and how you plan to use the table, different table shapes are suited for different needs.
Oval & Round
Oval and round tables are excellent for socializing; they encourage conversation, are great for playing games, and make shared food accessible to everyone seated at the table. Round tables especially are excellent for small spaces that usually only seat one or two people at any time. They can make small apartments look more modern and airy.
However, oval and round tables sacrifice the surface area. They don’t have as much space as rectangle table tops for food, so they aren’t ideal for larger families or people who like to entertain.
Rectangle dining tables look like they belong in almost every space. Furniture shapes that follow the existing lines of a room create a consistency and continuity that feel pleasing and welcoming. Rectangle dining tables provide each person with maximum space to avoid overcrowding while eating.
Uniform shapes aren’t the only options when picking your perfect dining room table. A sharp rise in the popularity of live edge wood tables is partially thanks to the way a naturally curved table brings movement and warmth into space that traditional furniture often can’t.
An ideal option for families who are short on space but still like to entertain is an expandable dining table. They come in a variety of shapes and styles to suit your specific needs. They have some way to increase the number of settings at a table, either by expansion pieces in the center or along the sides of the table.
Understanding the Style Decisions Behind Table Legs
The style of table legs likely won’t be the deciding factor when choosing your new dining table, but it’s still helpful to know what’s available and have an idea of what might suit your current design style the best. Table legs can have a huge impact on the room by making the table a solid statement piece, an airy, minimalist table, and everything in between.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most common styles.
One of the most common styles, and for good reason. Four-legged tables are sturdy, durable, and made to suit a variety of styles. Table legs come in an almost endless list of designs, from plain to ornate. They can be easier to repair or replace than other table bases as well.
Pedestal bases are ideal if you want your dining table to really make a statement. They are typically grand and luxurious, though minimalist and contemporary styles are becoming more popular recently.
Smaller round tables usually have one pedestal, while larger rectangle tables have two pedestals for additional support.
Trestles are a beautiful style of table base that have been a popular choice for hundreds of years. They look right at home in rustic or farmhouse designs when the trestles are made out of solid wood beams. For contemporary designs, thinner wood or metal is often used.
They come in a number of styles, from dainty X beams to large, commanding, and complex bases.
Selecting the Best Dining Table Chairs for Your Needs
Even if your dining room table comes as a matching set with chairs, you still want to take the time and make sure they are the right chairs for you and your family’s needs. There is no point in investing in a new table if no one wants to sit at it.
Selecting table chairs can be broken down into three main parts:
Most people prefer at least 10” between the top of the seat and the table to leave enough space for their knees. You also want to ensure there is enough clearance to slide the chairs under the table when not in use. Pay special attention to the armrest height if the kitchen chairs have them; there’s nothing more frustrating than leaning forward to eat because you can’t pull your chair under the table.
Comfort is a massively important component of picking the perfect dining room tables, especially if your family and guests will be spending a lot of time in them. Make sure the backs of the seat are high enough to offer solid support, and consider if you want to add your own cushions or go for chairs with built-in cushioning.
If the table doesn’t come as a matching set with chairs, then the main focus will be making sure your choices don’t clash. Get chairs that are the same color as the table or complement it nicely. If you have a very simple, minimalist table, going for heavy chairs with ornate designs will look out of place.