Tips and Advice
Archive of Creation magazine articles published on our website.
How to Choose the Right Dining Table
There are so many shapes and sizes of dining tables. Which one is right for you? The look of your table is important, of course, but making sure it fits your space and gives enough seating is even more critical.
Your table needs to allow for the number of diners you want to seat comfortably and still leave enough room for to walk around it. The width of your table should be at least 36 inches wide so there is ample space for place settings as well as food. Typically, as the table length increases, so does the width of the table top. Read on for sizes and shapes to consider when shopping for a dining room table.
Sizing Your Dining Room Table
Measure table-to-wall clearance. Measure the space around the room. To allow diners to sit down and get up easily from their seats, try to leave 42 to 48 inches between your table and the walls.
Measure table-to-furniture clearance. If there is furniture in the dining space, begin your 42- to 48-inch-measurement from the edge of the furniture instead of the wall.
Measuring tip: To test out a table size in a room, I grab a bed sheet or two, place it where the table will go and fold it into the shape of the table. This allows me to visualize the space it will take up. Then I can measure the wall or furniture-to-table clearance. If your table has leaves, include them in your calculations.
Don’t overcrowd your table. The table manufacturer should recommend the number of people that can comfortably be seated without touching elbows while eating.
Each person needs about 2 feet of eating space. Of course, if your table allows for it, you might be able to squeeze in another seat as needed or for those occasional larger gatherings.
Round Dining Tables
Round tables are great for small spaces. They fit in tight spots and have no sharp corners to bump into. You can usually fit more people around one because it has no corners. Pedestal tables are even better for accommodating more guests, as they offer more legroom.
Add transparent acrylic chairs to show off a beautiful table and make a small room feel more spacious, as shown in this New York dining nook.
Seating size for a round table. I usually stick to this calculation when looking for round tables. Manufacturers may offer different recommendations, and you might be able to add more seating for a tighter fit. Also keep in mind that using a pedestal base allows more seating because it eliminates the legs that can get in the way of a chair.
- 3-foot-diameter table with a pedestal base seats four
- 4-foot-diameter table with legs seats four
- 5-foot-diameter table with a pedestal base seats six
- 5-foot-diameter table with legs seats four
- 6-foot-diameter table with pedestal base or legs seats eight
- 7-foot-diameter table with pedestal base or legs seats nine
Round table tip: Large round tables can make it difficult to reach for food. Rectangular shapes seem to work better for seating very large crowds. If you choose a round table 5 to 6 feet in diameter, add the convenience of a center lazy Susan.
Rectangular Dining Tables
A rectangular table works well in a long, narrow room. It leaves more room for traffic flow. For most tables, as the table length increases the width increases as well.
Seating size for a rectangular table. These are the sizes I stick to when looking for rectangular tables. Manufacturers may offer their own recommendations, and you might be able to add more seating for a tighter fit.
- 4-foot-long table seats four
- 5- to 6-foot-long table seats six
- 7-foot-long-table seats eight
- 8- to 9-foot-long table seats 10
- 10- to 11-foot-long table seats 12
Space-saving tip: When looking to take up less room in a space, try a bench instead of chairs on all or one side of your table. Make sure you can push the bench under the table so you can stash it away when not in use.
Square Dining Tables
A square dining table, like a round one, makes for a more intimate dining experience because everyone is an equal distance apart. If your room is square, the table will complement the room shape around it.
Like the round table, the bigger a square table is, the harder it will be to reach for food. If you are looking to seat more than eight people comfortably, try out your table in person first. You might be better off with a square table that comes with leaves that you can turn into a rectangular shape for a dinner party.
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