In part one of How to Buy a Quality Dining Table, we covered what characteristics ensure your table will last for years to come. However, a durable table is only a part of the shopping process. Next, you must determine what size and height will fit your needs and your room.
Measure your room
Before you begin shopping measure the dining room. Draw a rough sketch of the room. For accurate dimensions, place the tape measure on the floor and measure from baseboard to baseboard. Note the dimensions on your sketch, including measurements of all doorways and windows.
Tip: Unsure of your measurements? Many furniture stores offer complimentary design services, including house calls, with the purchase of furniture.
One size doesn’t fit all
One of the most common issues I see in design clients’ homes is furniture that is just too big for the space. I know your empty dining room looks huge now, but wait until you start furnishing it. Trust me it fills up quickly.
Avoid overcrowding your home by allocating 36 inches of clearance for all walkways. In a dining room, this means allowing 36 inches of clearance from the edge of the table to the walls and china cabinet, though if space permits 42 -48 inches of clearance is preferred. Three and a half to four feet not only allow you to comfortably walk behind seated guests, but guests will also be able to push their chairs back to stand without bothering the people seated beside them.
Tip: Having trouble visualizing the space? Try newspaper. Lay the newspaper in the shape and size of the table you are considering. Bring in chairs from other parts of the house and place them around the newspaper. This will enable you to visualize how the furniture will look and function in your space.
Who’s coming to dinner?
Dining tables come in standard sizes, the most common of which I have listed below, as well as how many people each size will seat. Most tables come with table leaves that will add length to the sizes listed below. A typical table leaf ranges from 12-18 inches wide and will add two seats.
For most clients I recommend they buy tables with at least one leaf. Not only will it come in handy during large dinner parties, but should you move the additional leaf gives you the option of enlarging your table to fit a bigger room.
Round and Square Tables
Tip: Chairs vary in width. Wider chairs will reduce the number of guests around a table. While shopping do not be afraid to rearrange the chairs to see exactly how many people will fit around a table.
What height should you choose
Tables come in three standard heights. Dining table height measures 30 inches from the floor to the top of the table. This is by far the most common (and least expensive) option on the market. Using a dining height table also allows you to pull chairs in from other areas of the house during large gatherings.
Counter-height tables are 36 inches high, not coincidentally the same height as most kitchen counters. If you choose to buy a taller table, this is the best choice. The seat height (measurement from floor to the top of the seat) of a counter stool is 24 inches. Two feet is the perfect height for most people to sit without having to climb up on the stool. This is especially important when entertaining young children and the elderly.
Tip: Though many salespeople will use the term barstools for both counter-height and bar-height stools, be sure when placing an order for a counter-height table the salesperson orders counter-stools. Ordering a counter-height table, but accidentally receiving bar-height stools is a common mistake.
Bar-height tables are 42 inches high. The only time I recommend clients’ buy bar-height tables is when they will be using them in a rec. room, around a pool table for example. Bar-height tables are simply more comfortable to stand at than sit down to.
With a little forethought on size and a little knowledge on quality you are sure to find a table that not only looks perfect, but also will last for decades.