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.