Finding the right dining table

Long tables are great for family gatherings — sometimes separating our loved ones is a smart way to create a peaceful dinner party.
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A dining table is much more than just a surface that holds your dishes while you eat. And where you place your table will help determine the style and material you choose.

In kitchens, a durable and easy-to-clean surface is crucial, while in a large, formal dining room you’ll require a table with an elegant look. If you dine in your living room area then you’ll want a table that blends in with the living furniture.

Start with size
Keep in mind that the table must fit comfortably into the space with at least 30 to 36 inches on all sides of the table.

For example, if you had a 10-x-10-foot square space for dining, then the maximum sized table would be about 54 to 60 inches.

Keep in mind that the clearance space around a table isn’t always from the walls  — if a china cabinet or hutch is in the room then you require the clearance from that item.  A 36- to 48-inch round table will seat four people comfortably; a 54- to 60-inch table will seat six to eight people.

If dealing with a long table then allow 24 inches for each person. Dining tables are always a standard height of 30 inches.

Some antique tables are a few inches lower and there has been a trend lately to buy dining tables that are bistro height (42-inches tall).

The bistro height tables are better in more casual dining environments like kitchens, lofts and open-concept spaces with high ceilings.

Decide on shape
A good design form follows function so follow the shape of the space allotted to dining. Is it a long, slim area between kitchen and living area or a squared off space in an L-shaped living/dining room?

If you have a long room or space for dining then choose a rectangular or long oval-shaped table. If you  have a square space then usually a round table works best.

Square or round tables are great for creating intimate dining settings as everyone is equal distance from one another.

Choose a style
Whether you like modern or traditional decor, the recommended style of table is pedestal — the centre legs allow more flexible seating as you won’t have to contend with corner legs at the table.

Glass topped tables offer an open, airier look to a dining space — perfect for small spaces.

Fine finished wood tables seem to be the most popular as a long-term investment, but now there’s a trend for casual, rough-hewn wood and metal looks for an industrial and vintage feeling. This works great in loft-like spaces and the new farmhouse-style kitchen.

With dining table finishes, consider how you’ll use the table and the look you’re trying to achieve.

You can choose from wood, veneer, acrylic and glass table tops — and remember to consider durability and colour.

If you have inherited or invested in a fine wood table protect its top with a sheet of glass.

Accent with chairs
Chairs do not have to match the style of table —the big trend is to play off the style of the table and choosing chairs that are quite different.

For instance, a Queen Anne dining table gets surrounded by modern plastic chairs or a modern glass-topped table gets paired with art deco chairs.

Go low with cabinets
Storage in the dining area is often crucial for finer dishware, napkins, table clothes and bar accessories.

Everyone thinks of dining storage as being a tall china cabinet or armoire but these days things are getting long and low.

The low credenza allows for storage without filling up a dining space with oversized cabinetry.

Ground with a rug
Area rugs are great for helping to define a dining area within a large or open-concept home.

  • A rug should be 18 to 24 inches larger on all sides of the table.
  • The chairs need to be fully sitting on the rug when they are pushed into the table, not always when people are dining.
  • Modern-style condos and apartments can experiment with trendy floor choices. Smaller spaces are less expensive to replace when the trend looks dated.
  • Choose a plain rug that has a decorative edge or border — a rug with a centre design will simply get lost in the  table and chairs sitting in the middle.


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