How to Select the Perfect Dining Room Table

The dining room table is where friends and family come together over a bountiful meal to share stories, trade jokes and catch up. So it’s no surprise that many people shop for a table right before the holidays. But before you run out and buy the first thing you fall in love with, you’ll need to consider a few factors first.

Style

Start with your lifestyle. One of the most important considerations is how and where will you use your table?

 

If your table is an extension of your kitchen or family room, chances are you’ll use it more often, such as for food prep, homework or crafts. You’ll want something that’s more casual in style with a durable surface that won’t damage easily.

 

However, if you’re looking for a table for your formal dining room and you really only use it for special occasions, then you have the freedom to choose a more ornate table with a delicate finish.

 

Do you entertain often or only a couple of times a year? If it’s the latter, consider a table with an extension. You can create a cozy space for your family to enjoy on weeknights that easily expands when company comes.

 

Obviously, your own personal style preferences—eclectic, modern, traditional—will help inform the style of table as well.

 

Size

It’s so important to have a table and chairs that are comfortable and fit the scale of the room. Think like Goldilocks. You don’t want a table that’s too large or too small. If you follow our basic measurement guidelines, you’ll find a table sized just right for your dining room.

 

  • Allow 24″ between the table and wall so people can easily sit down and get up from the table
  • Allow 38″ between the table and wall if people are going to walk behind the table
  • Plan for 24″ for each place setting so people can comfortably eat without hitting elbows
  • The maximum width of a table should be 48″ – any more space and your guests can’t pass things across the table and conversation becomes strained
  • The minimum width of a table should be 36″ – any less width and you will have difficulty placing serving pieces in the middle of the table
  • If space allows, base your size table on the number of persons you usually have for dinner then add two. That should accommodate a normal number of guests.

 

Shape

The shape of the table is equally important in creating a beautiful and comfortable space.

 

Rectangular

A rectangular table is the most common shape because most dining rooms are rectangular. It’s also a great shape for seating more than four people. Rectangular tables are often more flexible since many come with leaves that extend the length.

Square

A square table looks best in a square room. It’s also a great solution when you have a small guest list – a large table can be off-putting. You can always put two square tables together and make a rectangular table for special occasions.

 

Round

A round table works well in small rooms and smaller square shaped rooms. It creates a cozy and intimate setting, so it’s the best shape for a small group of people. A large round table, however, can make guests feel very far away from each other. For versatility, get one with a leaf that changes into an oval shape that accommodates a larger group of people.

Oval

An oval table is very similar to a rectangular shape table, but visually it uses up less space because of the rounded corners. Therefore, oval tables are a great fit for a narrow or smaller size room. Many oval tables also come with leaves to extend their capacity.

 

About the Author:

Patricia Palermo
Patricia Palermo has been writing about home décor and design since 1999, which is when she first learned the term faux bois. She's passionate about helping others find their design style, because she believes with a little know-how and inspiration, anyone can decorate with confidence. Patricia has a degree in Journalism and lives in Atlanta with her husband and four-year-old twins.

28 Comments

  1. Roxana Rangel October 17, 2016 at 7:46 am - Reply
     

    Hi, my dining is 12ft x 19 ft .
    to the end of one side of the 12ft wall there is an entry the size of a regular door (but without a door) that goes staight to the back patio sliding door , I don’t want to ubstruct the passage from from that entry to the back where the sliding doors are, what size dining room should I buy? And what style do you recommend? And what size rug should I use?
    Also my house has dark green tile with touches of maroon, that’s what it came with, what tones of wood or color’s for the table would you use to make it look lively and spacious?
    And what rug color do you suggest ?
    My wall color is beige.

    • How to Decorate
      How to Decorate October 18, 2016 at 9:05 am - Reply
       

      Roxana,
      It sounds like you have a tricky space, and we’d be happy to make some suggestions for you! We actually have a free service where you can send in your space and our Design Solutions team will create a plan for you. All you need to do is complete this form and be sure to upload photos.
      Happy Decorating!

  2. Mau September 5, 2016 at 6:10 pm - Reply
     

    Hi,

    I have a 12’4″ by 10′ dinning room. Our preferred table shape is rectangular and we really fell in love with a table that is 86″ by 40″. Using the 12’4″ side of the room (148″), we would only be left with 31″ on each end of the table between the edge and the walls (148″ – 86″ = 62″….31″ per side). Would you say this will be feasible or would it look too crowded? I’ve seen recommendations starting at a minimum of 36″ and I actually found another post that recommended “no less than 31″ clearance between the edge and the wall to allow for comfortable seating”

    The other question I had was about he shape of the table. I know we will be putting a rectangular table in a square looking room. However, we’ll be placing the long side of the table along the longer side of the room. Would this be ok or is this a big no no?

    Your input on this will be very appreciated.

    • Caroline McDonald
      Caroline McDonald November 15, 2016 at 11:23 am - Reply
       

      Mau,
      Yes, it’s typically suggest you leave 36″ inches of space on either side of your dining table for clearance. 31″ inches is so close that we think it could work. Our one recommendation would be to choose a more narrow dining table. Something less bulky (say a Louis chair or something not upholstered) will feel less intrusive in the space!
      Best of luck.

  3. Carolyn July 19, 2016 at 10:38 am - Reply
     

    My new dining room table is 96″ long. In looking for rug an 8×10 seems too big because part will have to fit under server cabinet. the 6×9 seems little too narrow chairs will be off if back. What do you suggest?

    • Caroline @ How to Decorate July 25, 2016 at 3:41 pm - Reply
       

      Carolyn,
      This is tricky, but we usually suggest airing on the larger size. A rug that’s too small can make the whole space feel disjointed and busy. Typically a larger rug feels warmer and more inviting.
      Best of luck!

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