Furniture Buying Guide: Dining Tables
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Choosing Your Dining Table Style Wisely
For many of us, the dining table is a gathering hub for festive get-togethers with family and friends and also more casual moments like morning coffee and everyday meals. It’s also the main piece of furniture that sets the tone of the room, so a balance of form and function is key to making the right pick. Another consideration: Do you often host big gatherings or are your dinners smaller and more intimate? This guide gives the lowdown on common styles to help you decide which type of table to buy.Shop All Dining Tables
Help Me Choose
Your overall decorating style can dictate which type of table you choose. If the rest of your house is inspired by mid-century modern design, for example, you probably won’t want a large rustic table for your dining room; instead, you might choose a sleeker style with tapered legs. Alternatively, if your house has exposed beams, white walls, and distressed finishes— hallmarks of a farmhouse style—a table might be just right while a modern-looking Saarinen table could look out of place.
Material is another important factor. Tables come in a wide variety, including wood, metal, glass, and plastic. Each lends a different look to a room, and has varying characteristics. For instance, an antique wood table will not be as impervious to spills and food stains as a contemporary glass-topped table, but it will bring warmth and character to a dining space.
A wood table, often with sculptured or scrollwork legs that give it an elegant yet casual feel.
An earthy piece (think reclaimed wood) for a warm, casual dining setup.
Raw, whitewashed, or painted woods in simple silhouettes.
A highly sophisticated design, often with a top made of glass.
A chic style with an updated picnic-y feel, this type of table blends style with simplicity.
With simple curves and straight lines, this table style blends the formal feel of a traditional style with the casual vibe of contemporary design.
Curved legs and carved details are hallmarks of this type of table, which is a subset of the Traditional style.
Pagoda-inspired silhouettes show up in Eastern Influence tables. Some also feature a lacquered finish.
In weathered or whitewashed wood, a Coastal style table evokes the relaxed, natural aura of the beach.
Choose a Table Type
The type of table you choose impacts the entire room. A large, imposing trestle, for example, makes a bold statement—it’s a great pick for a formal dining room. Prefer more of an informal vibe? Opt for a smaller pedestal table or a round bistro table. If you love the idea of formal dining but need to make it work with young children, you can still choose a formal table just bring in tableware and accessories that hold up to wear and tear to make your dining room kid-friendly.
Ideal for small spaces, including the kitchen, where you want a place to eat a quick meal. Also perfect for an outdoor patio, porch or apartment terraces.
Ideal for squeezing in extra seating. The base of the table is centered, so there are no legs, making it easier to fit in additional diners. Bonus: Many pedestal tops are round, which is ideal for games and conversation.
Ideal for a small, informal setup. A pub table is a tall counter table that ranges from 40 - 42 inches high. The name comes from British pubs or bars.
Ideal for a larger space used for family dining and the occasional guest (it typically accommodates up to 8 people). Trestle tables are the oldest type of table in recorded history, dating back to Biblical times.
Ideal for a smaller dining or kitchen area. Instead of dragging out table leaves, you can easily transform a 2-seater drop leaf table to twice its size by just flipping the sides up.
Tables Come in Many Shapes
Make sure your table's shape is suitable both for your space and your style.
The oval shape offers the intimacy of a round one with the surface space of a rectangular one.
Ideal for seating a large number of people. Rectangular tables are traditional and formal.
Ideal for creating a cozy feeling and fitting a table into a tight location (no corners).
Ideal for a dining area that’s on the smaller side, used mostly for family meals.
Measuring the Room
If you want a dining room that’s comfortable for your family, you can’t just eyeball a table and hope it will fit your space. For the best results -- measure. Carefully determine the width and length of the room, then determine the size that will work best. A good guideline: Easy access to all sides of the table requires at least 32 to 36 inches between the walls and any side of the table. This rule of thumb also applies to other pieces of furniture around the table, such as a breakfront, but includes the space needed for your chairs.
Choosing a Table Size
The size of the table you buy should depend on the size of the room and the number of people that you expect to regularly use the table. A very large table can feel empty if, most of the time, only three or four people are sitting there. At the same time, a small table for eight people will feel cramped. If you need a small table for everyday use, but want a larger one to accommodate dinner guests, consider a table with one or more ‘leaves.' These are additional sections of tabletop that either fold down or are removable, making your table more versatile.
Ideally, each guest at the table should have 24 inches of space, plus an additional 18 inches of room between seats.
Round or Square Tables
|Seats 4||36" - 48"|
Oval or Rectangular Tables
|Seats 6||72" - 84"|
|Seats 8||96" - 108"|