Whether you dream of dazzling dinner
parties or cozy family get-togethers, your new
dining set will play a major role. The great news
is that there is a style out there for everyone.
But with so many choices, there are certain considerations
you should keep in mind.
The first step you should take before
you shop for any kind of furniture is to measure
the room it will be placed in. The dimensions of
a dining room should inform not only the size of
the table, but the general shape as well. A dining
table doesn't have to be rectangular. The shape
of a table can change the overall impression of
the room size. There are great expandable options
in round and square tables as well. To get an even
better idea of how the space can be laid out, use
our online room planner. That way you can tryout
round, oval, square and rectangular tables to see
what will fit best in the room before you go shopping.
Here are a few rules of thumb to keep
in mind when planning your dining room:
- Diners need 18" to 24" of space away from the
table to sit down and pull their chairs up to
- Diners should have 24" to 30" of space at the
table to dine comfortably without bumping elbows
with their neighbor.
- There should be four to five feet of space
between the table and the wall to allow the host
to easily move through the room and be able to
serve the guests.
How many for dinner?
The number of diners you expect to
seat affects the kind of table you get. It's easy
to get extra bodies around a pedestal table, but
beware that a pedestal table can become wobbly
and prone to tip when extended with multiple leaves.
Round or rectangular tables with four legs can
make it hard to pull up an extra chair.
A table with a leaf is a great way to expand
your dining area. If you have the space, you might
want to consider keeping the leaf in the table full
time. A leaf in storage will not age the same as
the rest of the table. Coloration may change or
the leaf may warp if stored vertically, instead
of horizontally, or if it is kept in a damp environment.
Leaves are usually not an option with glass-topped
tables. Butterfly leaves have become a popular option
in recent years because they store the leaf right
under the top of the table. It is important to try out the leaf mechanism
when you are shopping. It should open and lock into
place smoothly and easily without force. Drop leaf
tables can allow you to place a table right against
a wall for day to day use. You can pull them out
from the wall and extend the leaf when you need
to seat more people. A variation of the drop leaf
table, gate-leg tables include a leg that swings
out to support the leaf.
Flip top tables are another great option
for expanding seating. A flip top table is distinguished
by a table top that is doubled over on itself. As
it is unfolded it is either rotated or shifted on
the table base for support. In the folded state
they can be used as console tables in the dining
room, or behind a sofa in the living room as a sofa
Similar to the flip top table, a tilt top
table can be positioned near a wall with the table
top tilted to a vertical position. When needed the
table is moved away from the wall and the table
top is laid horizontal.
Dining room furniture is commonly sold
in five piece sets. Occasionally retailers will
run promotions that include two arm chairs as well.
You should buy at least two more chairs than you
think you will need. Holiday entertaining and family
gatherings can send you scrambling for seating to
accommodate everyone. If you buy the extra chairs
at the outset you can be sure that they fit with
the table. The extra chairs can always be used as
accents chairs in other rooms when you are not entertaining.
Mixing and Matching
Eclectic looks are very popular these days,
but there are several things you should think about
when purchasing tables and chairs separately:
Will it fit?
If you are buying chairs to match a table
in your home measure the distance from the floor
to the table apron to calculate if a chair will
fit. (The table apron is a rail that runs between
the legs to support the table top.) If you are buying
a table to match chairs in your home, measure from
the floor to the seat of the chair and add eight
inches to figure out how much space you need under
the apron. This will ensure that a person sitting
in the chair can actually get their legs under the
table. Chairs with arms are another consideration.
If you have a tight space, then you will probably
want the arm chair to tuck all the way under the
table, therefore you will want to make sure that
the arm will fit under the apron, but be careful.
If the chair arms regularly make contact with the
table apron, the finish may be marred. When considering
arm chairs, also look at the distance between the
table legs and the distance between the arms of
the chair to ensure they will fit together easily.
Take a Seat
Sit in the chair for some time; don't go from one
to the other too quickly. You will want
your guests to linger over dinner conversation,
so make sure that the chair is comfortable for a
longer period of time. It should be wide enough
for your guests to be comfortable. The chair should
support the back and allow you to keep your feet
on the floor.
Chairs should not be rickety or wobble.
If the chair has a padded seat, the corners should
be reinforced with screwed-in (not glued) corner
blocks. Padded seats should be removable so that
the cover can be changed. Fabric covered chairs
may not be appealing if you have young children
who are messy eaters. Leather is a great option
for quick cleanup, as is stain resistant microfiber
upholstery. Slip covers on Parson's chairs are another
easily cleaned option for the dining room.
Dining tables come in a variety of styles,
sizes and shapes. Whatever the style tables should
not be rickety or wobble. Leg tables should have
screwed-in corner blocks. Glass-topped tables should
come with silicone pads that go between the glass
and the base to keep the glass from getting scratched.
Pub-height or counter-height tables have
become very popular in recent years. While they
have a youthful image, counter height tables are
a great option for older people who have trouble
getting up and down from low dining room chairs.
If your kitchen or dining room has a window with
a great view, a pub height table is a great way
to enjoy. The higher seating can allow for unobstructed
sight lines. The higher levels of these table tops
also make them a great additional work surface in
a kitchen with limited counter space. Keep in mind
though; a pub height table may require you to raise
your dining room chandelier.
When you purchase your dining table, you
might want to check into table pads as well. Table
pads are often felt-covered on the back side and
vinyl on the top surface. They are usually covered
over with a table cloth when used. The pads protect
the table top from hot dishes and moisture and can
significantly prolong the life of your dining set.
Whether or not you opt for table pads,
consider a protection plan like Protection
First. Furniture that's worth buying is worth protecting
and such a plan can help you take care of your investment
so that little mishaps don't result in a major eyesore.
STORAGE & SERVING
Now that you have tables and chairs you
should consider storage and display for your dining
room. Features such as interior cabinet lights,
outlets for plugging in crock pots and extendable
serving areas make entertaining easy and attractive.
Below is a list of different storage pieces that
you may want to add to your dining room.
This cabinet is a free standing display case
that has a glass front and sides without any
enclosed cabinet space. Many styles include interior
lights, glass shelves and mirrored backs.
These cabinets are normally part display and part storage.
The top half of the china cabinet resembles a curio
cabinet and possibly contains a railing to allow you
to display plates, while the bottom contains cabinets
for the storage of other commonly used items.
Buffets are storage pieces, very often a cupboard
or "dresser" of sorts to store serving dishes
and platters. The upper surface is used as a
service area. A frequent addition to a buffet, a hutch can
provide both display and storage, leaving room
for food service as well.
A sideboard is a table with a wide drawer
in the center that is flanked by drawers and
cupboards on the sides and is used for storing
serving dishes and platters as well as for serving
A server is a shallow table with drawers. It is a surface to put food before it is placed on the table.
Unlike the sideboard, a server does not have cabinets.
COMMON WOOD CHAIR STYLES:
Windsor chairs are a style of chair that features
turned spindles along the back,
turned and angled legs, turned stretchers
between the legs, and a carved saddle seat.
The chairs were named because they origination
in the town of Windsor England.
Arrow back chairs are a variant of the Windsor
chair. The back spindles resemble arrows. They are cylindrical both ends but are flattened in the middle to resemble
Slat back chairs have backs that contain at
least one, possibly several, wide, flat, vertical
Ladder back chairs are chairs that feature
horizontal supports in the upper section of the
chair, often resembling a ladder.
Parsons is a tall dining room chair with an upholstered, rectangular back and seat.
COMMON TABLE STYLES:
This type of table usually has a round top with a single
center support rather than four legs. It has become
very popular recently because of the strong profile.
A leg table is a more traditional table featuring
4 legs but it is also harder to fit in additional
people because of those legs.
This table consists of two sets of legs that
are connected by a horizontal beam. These tables
are often good in dining spaces that are longer
instead of square.
Drop Leaf Table
A table with hinged leaves that are unfolded
for table extension.
Gate Leg Table
A variety of drop-leaf table in which the
extended leaf is supported by a leg that folds
into the base when the leaf is not in use. >
Flip Top Table
A flip top table is distinguished by a table
top that can be doubled over on itself. As it
is unfolded it is either rotated or shifted
on the table base for support.
Tilt Top Table
A top that can be tilted vertically to store
against a wall.