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  • Writer's pictureElisha Rickward

In the market for a new dining table? Read on...

How to select a new dining table

It’s not often we have the opportunity to change out big ticket items for our home – so it’s important to get it right. So if you happen to be in the market for a new dining table – keep reading as I explore the things to consider (and no its not all about aesthetics but hey that always helps!).

1) The Shape of the room

Often the room that houses our dining table – be it a dedicated dining room, a nook off the kitchen, a space within the living area or perhaps a table contained within the kitchen itself – will dictate the size and shape of our dining table.

As most rooms are rectangular in nature it’s not all that surprising that rectangular tables are the most popular dining table choice – largely because they fill the space effectively.

A rectangular table is generally a good shape to accommodate larger groups of people (particularly if comes with an extra leaf for extending the length when unexpected friends drop by) – however bear in mind that a rectangular table for 6 or 8 is likely to result in several different conversations going on at once.

Rectangular rooms also suit oval dining tables well. Oval dining tables often a similar length to rectangular tables (and thus suitability for large groups) but visually seem to occupy less space than their rectangular counterpart due their rounded corners. This is great if you want something that looks a bit lighter, or you have a slightly narrower room but remember it also means that it has less surface area if you like to serve up a feast with multiple plates and courses.

For square rooms (or dual duty rooms) consider investing in a round pedestal table as they are easier to walk around and take up less space. Also round tables have the advantage of making it easier to converse as a group (great if you happen to really like the people that are joining you at the dining table but not so ideal when your cousin’s opinionated husband comes to lunch).

When space is at a premium – consider creating a dining nook in a corner with banquette seating running along 1 if not 2 sides – this enables you to have the table sort of ‘pushed’ to one side of the room.

Image Credit: Rickward Design Studio

The banquette then gives you the chance to play with cushioned seating which brings colour and pattern to the room if you choose it or if a more muted scheme is your thing – a linen look fabric (though if your diners are messy – hello vegemite fingers – I would encourage you to look at wash n wear fabrics – I particularly love outdoor fabrics for this purpose – the feel and look of them has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years and they can be wiped down and laundered with relative ease). On the remaining table sides you can then choose to style with regular chairs (or if the room is really narrow) a bench seat that gets pushed under the table.

3) Selecting the right shape of dining table

There are pros and cons to the various table shapes - round vs square, rectangular vs oval. So how to choose?

For some selecting the shape of the dining table can often come down to nothing more than nostalgia. With many of us growing up in a household with (likely) a rectangular dining table memories of more innocent times might be around that rectangular table right?

Of course let's not forget aesthetics. That's a big part of the decision making process in many households. And round tables can be pretty fabulous for a number of reasons. Because there are no corners or edges to a round table it can create a feeling of more space so that people can walk around to get to their seat. There are no sharp edges... we've all be there right with rambunctious toddlers?

Image Credit: Pinterest - source unknown

Round tables can also be very inclusive - with everyone facing the centre - it's harder to be left out of a conversation. Also any easy reach when everything is in the middle of the table - rather than passing food and drink up and down as you often do with a rectangular table.

Round tables generally have smaller footprints than rectangular tables of a similar size due to the fact that they don't have corners of wasted space (this holds true of an oval table for the same reason). However the larger sized round tables that accommodate groups - say 6 to 8 - tend to be significantly wider than their rectangular counterparts. The average width of a rectangular dining table is around 100cm (give or take 10cm either way) but a round table to seat 6 to 8 is likely 150cm. The upshot is they don't always work so well in a room that is narrow.

If you like the softness of a round table (but don't have room for the width) don't rule out oval tables. There are some gorgeous one's around and again they don't have sharp corners so feel a bit more organic in shape. Choosing an oval table can help you with the length (for when you want to accommodate larger groups).

Image Credit:

3) Clearances and other nitty gritty

When contemplating a new dining table (or any large furniture item for that matter) it is always a good idea to tape out the footprint with masking tape or newspaper so you can visualise the size it will occupy in your room and perhaps more importantly the space to move around it.

Regardless of the shape of your dining table ideally you would like to have at least 1 meter clearance from all of the walls (or other pieces of furniture in the room – a sideboard or bar cart perhaps?). This clearance allows the dinner guests ample room to pull out their chairs and also for people to be able to walk around the guests on their way to and from the kitchen, the powder room or just for reluctant teens arriving late from their favourite Netflix show. If you don’t have a meter to spare you could push it to say 85 cm (it will be a bit tight but doable) but any less you need to look for a narrower or shorter table.

Ideally rectangular tables should be between 90 and 110 cms wide – the size of the room comes into play here ideally – wider table for larger room and vice versa.

Any narrower than 90 cm and you might find it hard to accommodate all the necessary place sittings and food on the table. Any wider and it might become difficult to hear (and if your eyesight is sadly on the decline like mine seems to be) see the person opposite you – of course this can have distinct possibilities if you don’t actually enjoy the company (or look!) of the people you are dining with.

Allow approximately 60 to 62 cm per person at a rectangular table for comfortable elbow room (and just general feelings of spaciousness) but of course you can sequeeze in more chairs when you are entertaining or the local football team drops around.

As we saw before the size of round tables will depend on the size of the room and how many diners, (or stay-at-home workers – hello we see you) are to be regularly accommodated.

A round table with a diameter of 107 – 122 seats 4 people. A table measuring 152 cm round seats 6 to 8. Beyond this size start thinking of a lazy susan or lots of plate passing!

Hope this helps.

Elisha x

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1 comment

1 Comment

Jean Wethmar
Jean Wethmar
Mar 22, 2022

Oh Elisha, such very valuable info contained herein, wow, I love your Dining Room Set up, with such gorgeous colours, and handy storage bench .. brilliant. Love your wealth of knowledge you share so easily as well.. x j

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