A dining table is one of the most crucial pieces of furniture in your home. As the focal point of your dining room, a great table means you have a place to enjoy meals, laughter, shared stories, and memories with family and friends. But today, it’s more than that, too. Our dining rooms are also taking on the roles of homeschooling hub, home office, craft central, and so much more. With so many uses in one space, the right dining table is more important than ever!
So, how do you choose a dining table for your needs? There are many factors to consider. But most importantly, you want to make sure you land on a table that’s practical—one that it fits your space and offers adequate seating—but also that it aligns with your personal style. If you’re ready to invest in a new table, this dining table guide will walk you through everything you need to consider—from size and shape to material—to make sure you furnish your dining room with functionality and style.
Consider Your Dining Table Shape
When choosing a dining table, one of the first things to consider is the shape. This helps to narrow your search a bit, too. You can choose from a shape based on your personal taste, but there are also some general guidelines to follow when it comes to the shape of a dining table. And it usually boils down to the size and shape of your dining room.
Want to try on round and rectangular dining tables in your room? Start your Modsy design project and see how 100s of real tables will look and fit in your exact room.
Rectangle/Square Dining Tables
Square and rectangular tables are the most common shape. This is largely because these shapes work best in rectangular rooms and most dining rooms are—you guessed it—rectangular! A rectangular table is a good shape to seat more than four people, so keep this in mind if you have a big family or love entertaining. But it’s not great for really large gatherings, since there’s not as much room on the tabletop to fit serving dishes in addition to place settings—so things could get crowded.Shop This Room
Round/Oval Dining Tables
Round tables are great because they can accommodate the most people. It’s easy to squeeze in an extra table setting or two where there aren’t any corners! They’re better for small rooms or rooms that aren’t square, as their rounded edges help create easy flow through the room. Circular tables are perfect for small gatherings and make an intimate and cozy setting for conversation. Oval tables help fill out longer, more narrow rooms.
Find the Right Dining Table Length
The size of your dining room table will depend on the size of your room and how many people you want to accommodate.
In order to make sure each diner has enough elbow room while chatting, follow these standard seats to size ratios:
- A 48” long table seats 4 people
- A 60” long table seats 6 people
- A 72” long table seats 8 people
Of course, if you don’t mind a more intimate setting or have little ones at the table with you, you might be able to squeeze in an extra seat.
Expandable dining tables are also a great option! If you don’t need as much table space on the day-to-day but want to have the flexibility for an occasional dinner party or holiday gathering, consider a table with leaves that can be dropped or inserted at the center of the table.
Go For The Right Dining Table Height
Dining tables generally come in three height variations. Most standard dining tables fall between 28 and 30 inches to allow for comfortable legroom underneath. Counter-height tables are closer to 36 inches high. And pub-style tables are the tallest, falling in the range of 40-42 inches.
If you’re not married to the idea of a traditional dining table, counter-height and pub tables are worth considering! They’re convenient because they can double as a place to serve food during a party or offer extra space for food prep. These heights work especially well in small spaces with open kitchens. However, if you have a dining room office, you may want to go with a traditional height, unless you want a table that functions as a standing desk!
Pick Your Dining Table Material
Dining tables come in a wide range of materials. So when exploring dining room design ideas, this factor mainly boils down to your own personal aesthetics and how much wear and tear your dining table will need to withstand. Below are some of the most popular material options for dining tables.
Wood is the most common choice for dining tables because it’s super durable and can stand up to anything life throws at it! It’s also easy to maintain or refinish with paint or stain as needed.
Natural wood offers a beautiful color and texture in a dining space and there are plenty of different types and finishes of wood to choose from. Weathered or reclaimed wood looks great in a variety of styles and can also hide nicks or scratches—which is great for families with children! Solid wood is more expensive and can be damaged more easily, so it’s more of an investment.
There are also veneer or laminate options, which can mimic the look of wood but are usually a much more affordable alternative. These are non-porous materials so they’re easy to clean and hold up to stains better than many other materials. However, if veneer chips, stains, or get scratched, it can’t be refinished like solid wood.Shop This Room
Lacquer is a glossy, resinous material that is applied as a coat to the outside of other materials (most often wood or particleboard). This is a great material for chic designs and small spaces as it’s glossy texture reflects light, which is great for rooms in need of some extra shine.Shop This Room
Glass dining tables provide a sleek look for modern or contemporary spaces. They’re great for small dining areas because they make the space seem larger as don’t add any clunky visual weight to a room.
Glass is also super low maintenance and easy to clean. However, these tables might not be very family-friendly as they easily show finger smudges and their sharp edges can pose a threat to rambunctious little ones!
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Explore more glass dining table ideas.
Many people consider marble to be one of the best dining table materials. It’s luxurious and sophisticated and puts the natural beauty of the stone on full display. However, marble is a porous material—meaning it can stain easily and quickly. While it’s great for elegant, traditional settings, it might not be the best choice if you have a family with young kids or if you like to entertain often, as spills are inevitable in both scenarios!Shop This Room
A metal dining table can add a cool, industrial feel to any room. It’s also super durable and easy to clean up. Some metals can be prone to corrosion, however, so make sure to use cleaning products that won’t damage it.Shop This Room
Explore Dining Table Styles
Finally, choosing the best dining table means finding the right style for your space. There are so many styles to consider—from modern to rustic, contemporary to traditional—and each style has plenty of variation within it! In addition to being functional, you want your dining table to reflect your personal style and complement the decor in the rest of your home.
Need help with more than the table? If you’re furnishing a dining room from scratch, check out our dining room checklist. It has a round-up of everything you need for a functional dining area, while working with your personal needs and budget!