How to choose the perfect dining table for your home

A buyer's guide to handmade dining tables

I’ve always thought that the humble table holds great significance in the home. It brings family and friends together. It makes for conversation. Whether you’re entertaining guests at a dinner party or having breakfast with your family; it is more often than not around the kitchen or dining room table. I know that in my case meal times are pretty much the only time that my family all sit down together and talk. 

Have you recently moved into a new home? 

Are you coming to the end of a renovation project? 

Or perhaps you’ve finally decided get rid of the £20 table you bought at a car boot sale 15 years ago and made the decision to look for a new dining table.

How to pick the right dining table for you

Here’s a guide to choosing the right dining table. It will give you hints and tips of what to look out for. It will ask you the questions that will help you understand what it is you want and give you more clarity, when you make your decision to start the process of picking the right table for your home. 

What is the overall theme of your home and how do you want your table to fit into this?

Have a think about the overall style of your home. Is it classic, contemporary, period, industrial, rustic modern, urban, country? We recently made an oak table with a sandblasted finish for a client who had a very modern living space and wanted that rustic modern style.

Do you want the table design to tie in with your existing decor or do you want to mix styles? You may have a contemporary open plan kitchen / living / dining area that you’re keen to furnish with a country classic farmhouse table. Or perhaps you’re in an old country thatched cottage that you’d like to bring forward in time with some contemporary dining furniture.

How to choose a dining table for a particular room

The size of your table is going to vary depending on the type of room it’s going to be in - and what else happens in that room. Perhaps you’re choosing a table for your dining room, in which case you might want the table to dominate the room with little need for too much working space around it. 

However if your table is going to be part of an open plan living space, you want to work out what section of this space is dedicated to your eating area, while still allowing enough space for movement in and around the space. You’ll also want to be thinking about the living room furniture in this space and making sure that your kitchen table complements its design and colour scheme. 

What sort of seating are you going to have?

Are you going to have dining chairs or benches around the table…. or a mix, say a bench and 4 chairs? It’s important to have a think about your seating preference when deciding on the table design, as it could be really influential in your decision. Benches can be a great space saving choice for families with children, because you can squeeze lots of children down one side of the table on a single bench.

You might have already chosen your chairs, in which case make sure you’ve got the dimensions to hand. That way you’ll be able to work out how much space you need for the chairs between the table legs, so they can tuck neatly under the table when not in use. If you’ve gone down the road of commissioning a bespoke table, make sure you pass these dimensions onto the maker. 

What do you want your table to be made from?

If you’re going to pick the right dining table for your home, you need to decide on the raw material for your table. Do you stick with traditions and commission a dining table that is made using only solid timber?

Or perhaps you want to mix it up and commission a glass top table with a wooden base, or a metal base with a wooden table top? Polished concrete, marble?  What your table is going to be made in / from will to some extent dictate the design. 

Extending v non-extending?

Extending dining tables give you so much flexibility. It might be that you’re trying to figure out how to choose right dining table based on the fact that you want to be able to sit 10 people from time to time. You’ve got the space to do this, but it’ll be a little cramped. And on a daily basis you only need to sit 6 people. An extending table with a couple of leaves will solve this conundrum. When unextended it will be around 800-1000mm shorter than it’s fully extended length. When both leaves are in use, you’d gain 4 more place settings.  

However if you’ve got the space to accomodate a table that will comfortably sit 10, or even 20 people, then why not go for a solid non-extending dining table. Large solid dining tables are such a beautiful feature and give a real sense of permanence to the home. 

What size table should you get?

You may well have ideas as to how to choose the right dining table for your home based on your own interior design preferences, the decor in your home and what you’re going to use the table for. Perhaps it’s going to be used for everyday family meals, or evening entertaining... or both.  

But what about the size? When it comes to thinking about the dimensions of your table, you need to ask yourself two questions:-

1. What size table can my room accommodate? Be realistic here. Make sure there’s enough room to allow for people to walk all around the table when people are sitting at it. 

2. How many people do I want to be able to sit around the table? When you ask yourself this question, think about the everyday rather than the once a year Christmas meal! 

These two questions may well contradict each other. It sounds really obvious, but normally (unless you’ve got the luxury of ample space) the size of the room dictates the size of the table, which in turn dictates how many people you can sit around it! 

Check out this article on how we design the perfect table for your home, to understand how we translate the answers to the above questions into the design of your custom made table

Design versus function

How to pick the right dining table for your living space can result in a lot of head scratching! Ultimately however, it’s about getting the balance right between design and function. And you may well need to make compromises to achieve this. If you do, and as a result you find the perfect balance, it will be worth it. 

If you’re interested in commissioning someone to make you a table, why not take a look at our collection of handmade dining tables. We make them all to order in our Devon workshop in a selection of timbers and finishes, to bespoke dimensions. 

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