Guide | Kitchen & Dining Tables

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dining Table

Dining tables aren't just basic pieces of furniture!

Thanks to their natural connection to meals, they're the best place to gather your entire household together in front of a warm plate, as soon as you wake up or whenever you all come home from school and work.

Because it'll become a central element that you'll all make the most of multiple times a day, you really don't want to pick it randomly.

You need a dining table that matches your habits, household size, and interior style.

Too much to handle? Not at all if you follow our simple tips!

Figure out the right shape for your dining room

When choosing a dining table, it's important to consider the bigger picture: the layout of your room.

Have you sometimes seen a dining room that somehow looked a bit off but you couldn't pin it down to anything in particular? Trust us: it was probably the wrong table-and-room-shape combination!

  • If you have a rectangular or long-shaped room, the most popular design will be just right for you: a rectangular table, obviously. This is a handy choice for more than four people and especially if you love sitting at the head of the table when hosting dinner parties;

  • Square tables are an attention-grabbing and interesting idea, perfect in square rooms or in rectangular ones in which you want to create a separate, smaller dining area. Ideal for two and four, you can also find a square dining table for 8… or even a square dining table for 10! You'll prefer them to rectangular options if you were hoping to facilitate conversation without really having anyone at the head of the table;

  • Round tables are useful for the same reason but they look better in smaller square rooms because they allow you to optimize space. However, if you have a larger room, you can always consider round dining tables for 8 or 10 if you don't mind there being more room in-between guests sitting on opposite sides. Or, if you only occasionally have people round for dinner, opt for an extendable one that becomes oval-shaped when needed;

  • In narrow dining rooms, oval is a good compromise for six or more people: like a rectangular table, it works better with higher numbers of settings but, just like round designs, it looks like it occupies less space than it actually does.

Traditional Dining Room Design
Modern Dining Room Design
Modern Rustic Dining Room Design
Wood Dining Table
Dining Room Design
Farmhouse Dining Room Design

Measure it and consider the right size

In order to find the right size, you must take two main things into account: the number of seats and how much space you've got.

  • For the former, allow at least 24" per person so that everyone has got enough room to sit comfortably;
  • As for the rest of the room, we recommend leaving around 38" between the edge of the table and the wall: that way, you and your guests will be able to walk around it easily;
  • If you only need to get up without really walking along that side, 24" will do.
Interior Of Modern Dining Room
Interior Of Modern Dining Room

Choose among different types of base or table support

  • Legs are the most popular option and they're handy if you usually have the same number of people sitting at the table. They're mainly used for square or rectangular models and they work with lots of different interior styles;
  • If you were hoping for more legroom and flexibility (perhaps you occasionally want to be able to squeeze in an extra chair?), then you should go for a central pedestal base. It's better suited for smaller tables, as it could otherwise result in a wobbly scenario unless you opt for a rather large and bulky pedestal;
  • Trestle bases, with some support on two sides and, usually, a horizontal bar, are another solution for longer tables, either rectangular or oval. If you want to seat someone at both heads of the table, make sure that there's enough legroom between its edge and the actual trestle, as not all tables following this design allow it.
Rustic Dining Room Design
Double Pedestal Dining Table
Industrial Dining Room Design
Glam Dining Room Design
Trestle Dining Table

Pick the right material

Strong, durable and versatile, wood is still---and will probably always be---the best and most common material for tables:

  • The best thing about wooden tables is that, depending on their design, they can work with almost every interior style;
  • You should go for darker woods like walnut, ebony or mahogany if you're opting for a more vintage result or if you have a rather spacious room;
  • Lighter options like maple or oak can help you convey a more contemporary approach and make your small dining room look airier;
  • Pine is a popular budget-friendly choice.
Wood Dining Room Design
Wood Dining Room Design

Obviously, you also have other options:

  • If you like the look of wood but want a cheaper alternative, you can always opt for veneer. It's not as fancy, but it can look the part;
  • Plastic and laminate are an even cheaper solution but not very durable;
  • Metal is a sturdy choice that can work in modern and industrial settings;
  • Not only is glass a smart contemporary design, but it can help you make your room look bigger than it actually is;
  • Finally, if you don't mind spending a bit more to achieve an elegant and luxurious feel, you could look at stone tables, too.

Think of your décor style

Finally, remember when we said that you should think of the big picture? Another part of it is your interior style: since your dining room table will be its most central element, you want one that complements it, not that looks oddly out of place.

In order to choose a dining table that matches your décor , consider this:

  • Very symmetrical tables featuring light natural wood, saturated tones (black, white, or your room's accent color) or a glass top are an easy way to convey contemporary vibes;
  • For a mid-century modern dining room, look for long rectangular tables made of darker wood and featuring outward-pointing legs;
  • Stick to light wooden, monochrome or bicolor tables with a streamlined design for a minimalist look;
  • You can do that for Scandinavian dining rooms too, but make sure you focus on wood even more (especially for the legs) or combine it with a natural color like white or yellow;
  • For an industrial look, you want to stick to simple rectangular tables made of wood but with metal legs;
  • Love the charm or the detail-oriented shabby chic décor? Then try and stick to either white or discolored wood and very decorative shapes, for example with curved legs or an ornate pedestal if you're opting for a round design;
  • The same works for French country interiors too, but you definitely want to focus on wood a bit more to give it a rustic vibe. Trestle bases are fairly more common with this style;
  • For a bohemian interior, try and choose a table that looks really unique: stick to natural wood but scout for unusual details. Long rectangular designs seem to work really well, probably because they emphasize its spontaneous focus on hospitality.
Traditional Solid Wood Design
Traditional Solid Wood Design

Foter is a premier architecture, decoration, interiors and design website. We inspire and guide you to make your home a more attractive place.


Related content

Our Editors