Helpful tips on how to choose the right size dining table
There is a huge benefit of commissioning a bespoke table for the kitchen, dining room, or open plan living space in your home. Rather than buying something off the shelf that’s ready made; you can be involved in the design process. Some people even like to lead it. You can choose what material your table is to be made from and what finish it will have. Essentially, going down the bespoke route means you can have your table made exactly how you want it, for your space in your home. It is a personalised piece of furniture, made to your specification. So it’s important that you get that spec right for your space.
If you’ve just started thinking about commissioning a bespoke dining table and you don’t really know where to start, you might want to check out our guide to buying a handmade dining table.
I spend a lot of time with my clients talking about how big we should make their table, how many people they’re going to be able to sit around it, and giving them general dining table size advice. This article is a guide that should help you in choosing the right size dining table for you.
Dining table sizes and the need to compromise
When you’re planning your dining room, it’s important to be realistic in terms of size and seating capacity.
What space do you have available for your dining table?
How many people do you want to sit comfortably at the table on a kind of every-day basis?
And remember, the space in your room dictates what size table you can have. How big your table is dictates how many people you can sit around it.
In other words, if you’ve only got room for a 2 meter dining table, then you’re not going to be able to seat 14 people around it.
How to choose the right size dining table for your space
What space do you have available for your dining table and what is the space like. Is it open plan? Or are there going to be walls on each side?
Where will the table stand?
In an open plan living space?
What overall footprint do you want the eating area to take up (table, chairs and room to move around it)? To work this out, add 600mm to either side and either end of the planned table size. This is about the amount of room someone sitting at the table will take up. Then add another 300mm to either end and either side to allow for space to move around the table behind the people sitting at it. This comes to a total of an additional 1800mm to the length and 1800mm to the width. So for example if you’re planning on commissioning a handmade table that measures 2000mm x 915mm, then you need to allocate 3800mm x 2715mm in your open plan space. You can always mark this out on the floor with masking tape in order to help you visualise it.
In a kitchen or dining room?
Ideally there needs to be at least 900mm space between the walls or doors (when open) and the table edges. This will allow for comfortable seating and space for movement around the table behind anyone sitting at the table. Working back from the overall size of the room will give you the maximum size of table you can comfortably fit in the room. Take 1800mm off the room length and 1800mm off the room width to figure this out. So for example if your room is 4300mm x 2800mm, then you don’t want to be commissioning a bespoke kitchen table that’s any bigger than 2500mm x 1000mm.
Biggest is not always best
Remember that biggest is not always best. It’s always a good idea to know the biggest size table you have space for and to mark it out. You may feel it crowds the space, in which case work down and keep visualising it until you reach a size that you’re comfortable with.
When you’re going through this process, it’s important to bear in mind how many people you want to seat; and to know the minimum table size you need in order to seat your guests comfortably.
When you’re planning your dining table sizes and marking out your room, you may feel that you want to max out and get the biggest dining room table that you can for that space. But that you don’t want it to be that big all the time. In that case you’ll want to consider commissioning a made to measure extending dining table.
Once you’ve worked out your ideal dining table sizes, you can move onto thinking about the best size table for how many people you want to seat .
Dining table seating guide
How many chairs do you plan to have around the table on a daily basis?
And how many might you want to squeeze around the table at Christmas time when families descend?
Ideally you want to allow a bear minimum of 510mm per person when working out how many people to sit down either side of the table and possibly at each end. Although I’d advise using this 510mm figure if you’re dead set on maximising seating capacity within a size restriction. It also depends on chair widths, which usually average (a generous chair) at around 520mm wide. 550mm is a good amount of seating space per person to allow for, with 580mm or 600mm being very comfortable.
What type of table is it?
This can be broken down into three designs:-
A trestle table
This table design is the most effective use of space and subsequent seating capacity. Generally the trestle uprights will not intrude on leg room or seating space. This means that if the table is 2200mm long then you will be able to seat 4 people down each side of the table with 550mm space.
A trestle table that measures 2200x1000mm will seat 10 people.
A table with four legs and an apron
With this table design you need to figure out what space you will have between the legs rather than the overall length of the table top.
To get to this you need to ascertain the stock thickness of the legs and how much of the table top overhangs the legs at each end.
For example a table that is 2200mm long, with 95mm thick legs and 150mm overhang at each end, will give you 1710mm seating space between the legs. So you’d comfortably seat 3 down each side of the table.
A table with 4 legs and an apron that measures 2200x1000mm will seat 8 people.
A four legged refectory table with bottom cross members and stretchers
This table design is the least effective use of space and subsequent seating capacity. The
reason being that you need to allow for at least 300mm overhang at each end of the table, although I usually go for anywhere between 350-400mm. That way the person at the head of the table has some leg room and is not knocking his/her feet/knees against any part of the table base.
Again you need to work out the space between the legs for seating capacity.
For example a 4 legged refectory table that is 2200mm long, with 95mm thick legs and 375mm overhang at each end, will give you 1260mm seating space between the legs. So you’d comfortably seat 2 down each side of the table.
A 4 legged refectory table with bottom cross members and stretchers that measures 2200x1000mm will seat 6 people.
Hopefully this dining table size and seating guide will help you to work out what size table will work best in your space.