When shopping for a dining room table, there are many things to consider—from dining table styles to dining table shapes and sizes. But sometimes, before you can consider those things, you first need to assess how you use your dining room to begin with.
Before You Shop for a Dining Table
When thinking about dining room design ideas, a couple different factors can help you make design, style, and layout decisions based on your own personal use cases. First, consider how much space you have to work with and how your dining room flows and connects with the rest of your home. The size of your dining room will have a lot of bearing on what goes inside of it—so this is a good place to start when choosing the right dining table for your home.
You also want to think about how you use the space and even who in your home uses it the most. Does your dining room double as a home office or homeschooling zone? Do you entertain a lot or have pets? Who uses the dining room table, how it’s used, and even how often you host dinner guests are all big factors that will influence what you need in a dining table.
Wondering how to choose a dining table for your needs? Keep reading for our complete buying guide on choosing the right dining table for the size and layout of your space, as well as your lifestyle needs. This guide will help you find the perfect dining table for your home!
If You Have a Small Dining Room
Look for a smaller or expandable table: In a small dining room, you want to choose a table that is proportional to the size of your space. As a result, you’ll obviously want to go for a smaller-sized table in a small dining room. If you like entertaining, consider an expandable table that can be at its smallest size day-to-day but expand when needed to accommodate extra seats.
Get creative in extra-small spaces: For an extra small dining room—or if you only have a breakfast nook, or no dining space at all—you can still create a dining area. You could put a small cafe table and two chairs in the corner of your living room, or even use a console table with stools against a longer wall. We also love the idea of having a desk that can double as a dining table.
Eliminate sharp corners: Oval or round tablesare best in small dining rooms. They don’t have sharp corners you could bump into when navigating between chairs and the wall, which makes them easier to move around in a small space. They’re also better for squeezing more people around in a pinch, since there are no corners that limit the number of people you can fit.
Reduce tripping hazards: In a small dining room, you’ll also want to make sure your chairs can comfortably slide under your table. If they don’t, they’ll stick out into the room and create less walking space and can easily become a tripping hazard. So, choose a table style that allows you to push your chairs in.Shop This Look
If You Want to Fill Out a Large Space
Choose a table table that commands the space: In a large dining room, you can go for a standard-size dining table, or even a large, oversized table. Like in a small dining room, you still want your table to be in proportion to the space. So, if you have a particularly large space, opt for a table that has some heft and visually commands the space, like a farmhouse-style table. You could also opt for an extra-long table for a communal eating feel. Regardless, with a large dining room, you have the space to have a large dining table set up year-round rather than needing to expand a table or set up extra eating spaces when hosting guests.
Try a rectangular table: Rectangular tables are the most common dining table shape, and they work well in large dining rooms. They’re best for formal dining, where you want someone to sit at the head of the table, and they’re also great for filling out a dining room. However, there are some larger oval-shaped tables that can give your dining room a softer, more organic look.
If You Have an Open Living Room/Dining Room
When your dining room is open or connected to your living room, you not only want to consider the size, but also how the elements within each room interact with each other. So, consider proportion to properly fill out (but not overfill) the space, and choose furniture that mixes well with the style and proportion of your living room furniture. Rectangular tables are best for open living room/dining rooms, as you can use the table to help partition the two rooms and create a sense of organization within the open space.
If You Have Young Kids
Pick the right material: When you have young children, a big thing to consider is the material of your dining table. Glass tables are hard to keep clean and are easier to break—so avoid that if you have kids. Instead, choose something more durable, like a solid or composite wood. Veneer can also be good, but it chips and scratches more easily. Another super durable option? Sealed stone, like ceramic or concrete. However, avoid marble in lighter shades, as it can easily stain. Rustic surfaces like weathered wood or metal are best for rambunctious kids. They develop a natural patina, so nicks and scuffs easily blend in. Darker finishes help hide accidents, like spills and stains, but they can sometimes show more scratches.
Avoid sharp edges: We also recommend avoiding sharp edges. While some rectangular tables have more rounded corners, certain styles and materials have very sharp corners, so we’d veer away from those. Sometimes tables with metal legs have decorative elements that could also pose a risk to small children.
Consider the base of the table: You’ll also want to think about the leg style of a dining room table—specifically, if you want a table with four legs or more of a pedestal style. Both can work with kids, but it’s good to consider if you can fit a high-chair and dining chair side-by-side between the legs of a table, or even how the base of the table will affect clipping a child’s seat to the table.
If You Live Alone
If you live alone or just don’t eat much at your table, go for a smaller table and fill out the rest of your dining space for accent furniture. It’s nice to have the option to use a dining table if you have people over, but you can get something smaller so you don’t have a large table going unused when it’s just you. This also allows you to choose a table that can work for the size of your space if you’re in a smaller apartment.
If You Need to Seat a Lot of People
Large dining tables can seat 6-8 people, so they’re great for larger families, allowing your whole family to sit around it at once. Sometimes you can seat even more with large tables that are extendable. This is not only great for large families but also for those who entertain a lot.
If You Have Pets
If you have pets who like to chew on your furniture legs, consider a table with a pedestal base or with metal legs. This way they won’t be able to get their mouths around the base to gnaw on it. If you like the look of a table with slender legs, simply consider metal legs rather than wooden ones, which your pet won’t want to chew on.Shop This Look
If You Love to Host
If you host often, you’ll want to consider that when choosing a dining room table. Like we mentioned earlier, if you have a large dining room, you can have a large dining table set up year-round.
Try an extendable table for extra seating options: But in a more average-sized dining room, extendable tables are great for hosting. For everyday use, you can keep the table smaller and fit just your family around the table. But when you have guests over, you can add a leaf or two to increase the number of people you can fit around the table.Shop This Look
Go for a drop-leaf table in small spaces: If you love to host but only have a small dining room, you could consider a drop-leaf table. This allows the table to get pretty compact, and you can push it up against the wall when not in use. But, when having friends over for dinner, you can pull it out from the wall, put up the leaves, and fit a few extra people around the table.
Squeeze in more people with a round or oval pedestal table: When hosting, do you tend to try to squeeze a lot of people around your table? You may want to opt for a pedestal table rather than one with four legs so extra chairs can squeeze in without interference. You could also go for a round or oval table rather than a rectangular one, as a rectangular table will limit the number of people you’re able to seat around it due to the corners.
If Your Dining Room Doubles As Your Home Office
If your dining room doubles as your home office, and you use your dining table as a desk, make sure your table is large enough for your work supplies and at a comfortable height for you to work at. If you’re going to sit somewhere for eight hours, you want to make sure it’s ergonomic! In a small space, consider a bar-height table, which can double as a standing desk and gives you room to sneak in some storage underneath.
Need a little extra help choosing a dining table for your needs?