How to Choose the Perfect Table for Your Dining Space

Whether you are just starting out, upsizing, downsizing, or just reconfiguring your current space, buying a dining room table is a necessary, but often intimidating, task. Have no fear, though. We are here to help take the guesswork out of your purchase and open your eyes to some great dining table options.

What makes the perfect dining table?

In short, the perfect dining table is the one that is perfect for you at this stage in your life. Before you set foot in the store, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the primary purpose for my dining table? Dining would be the obvious answer, but some people use their dining table for work, study, games, or crafts more than they use it for day-to-day dining.
  • How many people will use the table for dining? Do I have a big family to accommodate or just one to four people? How will that change in five years? Or ten?
  • How often do I entertain? Or, how often would I lito entertain? If it’s more than a couple times a year, having a table that can accommodate a group of friends or the whole extended family will make entertaining a breeze.
  • What is my budget? Dining tables are a major purchase, but there are options at every price level. Our advice is to buy the best table (and chairs) that you can afford.

What is my style? If you gravitate towards classic or traditional styles, or have a life-long affinity to modern, you may be more inclined to treat your table as an investment piece that you’ll have and love for many years. If your tastes come and go with the trends, you might not want to invest quite as much, knowing that you’ll probably be re-doing your dining space a lot sooner.

Beacon 5 Piece Dining Room

Find your Perfect Dining table: Your Steps to Success
Some people find shopping for a dining room table can feel a little bit like Goldilocks. But if you come prepared with measurements and a style in mind, you can quickly get past the “too big” and “too small” to find the one that’s just right. Here’s how to begin your search:

Step 1: Measure Your Dining Area
Your first step in finding your perfect table is to accurately measure the area where the table will be placed. Only measure the usable area. If you have other furniture in the dining room, like a cabinet or server, measure from the front of the piece, not the wall behind.  

Tyler Creek Dining Set with Bench

Step 2: Subtract Room for Circulation Space
Walking around the table, pulling chairs in and out, and being comfortably seated all takes room. Once you have measured your space (length and width), subtract about six feet from each measurement for circulation space. This will give you your maximum table size, allowing for three feet of room on each side of the table.

For example, if your room measurement is 9’ by 11’ you would subtract 6’ from each measurement, leaving you with a maximum table size of 3’ by 5’.

Acadia Dining Set

Step 3: Pick a Shape, Any Shape
Well, maybe not any shape. The most common dining tables are square and rectangular, but round or oval tables are also good options that can improve flow, especially in rooms with tight circulation space.

There are a couple of factors that you might consider when choosing your table shape. Personal preference is one, but there are some practical (and aesthetic) things to keep in mind.

Rectangular tables are good for seating larger groups and work well in rectangular rooms and great rooms. If using in a square room, pair with a matching server or horizontal cabinet, placed parallel to the table, to balance the space.

Square tables are suited for small, intimate groups and, as you’d guess, work well in square rooms.

Round tables are also good for small groups and work well in square rooms, round rooms, smaller rooms, or dining nooks where circulation space is tight. Not ideal in a rectangular room.

Oval tables are good for larger groups and work well in rectangular rooms and great rooms, and can offer a more comfortable fit where space is tighter. If you would like to seat people around the corners, look for a style with a trestle or pedestal base.

Sommerford Dining Set

Step 4: Choose the Material
More than any other factor, the material of your table will determine the price and the longevity of the piece. When deciding on a material, consider your budget, your style, and your expectations for durability and care.

Stone and glass tables, for example, might not be the best choice for parents of young kids as they are prone to staining and fingerprints, respectively. Wood surfaces can be prone to denting and scratching, but both are less noticeable on rustic or pre-distressed furniture, and can even add to the character of the piece.

Wood: Solid wood, especially hardwood, can be one of the more expensive options, however it is durable and relatively easy to repair. Pine, acacia, mango, and teak wood are less expensive options. Because it is a natural material, wood will expand and contract with changes in humidity and temperature, which could eventually require repair.

Veneer/Wood-Look: More affordable than solid wood, wood veneer is made by gluing a very thin layer of solid wood, or material printed to look like wood, to a plywood or other wood core. Look for tables with a quality wood core, such as kiln-dried hardwood, for longevity.

Stone and Stone-Look: Depending on the type of stone (or composite stone) it is made of, a stone table can be a higher or lower priced option, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Stone tables are sturdy, but inherently heavy—something to keep in mind if you move frequently.

Glass: Glass tables are a wonderful option for creating a feeling of space and openness in a room and come in a range of price-points and styles. Glass tables should be treated with an additional level of care as they can chip, scratch, or crack from heat and tend to show fingerprints easily.

Plastic and Laminate: Usually the least expensive option, plastics and laminates are easy to take care of and tend to resist being stained. However, they aren’t the longest-lasting materials and are best for trendier looks or “starter” dining sets.

Step 5: Select Your Style
As it is an investment piece, you should select a style of table that suits your taste, and you love to look at—you’re going to have it for a while! When in doubt, look for a table with good proportions and clean lines that can meld with a range of different styles.

Winston 5 Piece Casual Dining Set

MODERN: This striking pedestal table features a round stone top with faux marble finish and a sculptural metal base.

Franko 5 Piece Dining Set

INDUSTRIAL: A natural live edge wood tabletop plays beautifully against an angular metal base, finished in classic black for an edgy touch.

osemite Dining Table

RUSTIC: This extendable trestle table with exposed bolt detailing has all the hallmarks of a much older piece, but with modern construction and an easy-care finish.

Geo Heights Dining Set

TRANSITIONAL: Finished in a warm butterscotch stain, this beautifully detailed table features a space saving drop leaf top.

Realyn Oval Dining Table

FRENCH COUNTRY: An antiqued two-tone finish gives this extendable oval table plenty of charm. Removing the leaf transforms it into an intimate round.

Chesney Casual Dining Set

Next Steps
Armed with measurements and a general idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to visit your local showroom. Because this is such an important purchase, we highly recommend working with one of our home experts, rather than trying to navigate the store on your own. Your expert will work with you to narrow down your options and help you find the perfect dining table for your space and taste.

While you are in the store, don’t be afraid to take a good look under the table and check the joinery and hardware. If you are considering an extendable table, ask for a demo so you can examine and learn how to operate the mechanism(s). Be sure to also pull up a chair and sit at the table to make sure it is comfortable to sit at.

Finally, if you’re not seeing “the one,” ask about your custom options. Your expert will work with you to choose the perfect combination of tabletop, base, material, and finish, to check every box on your list. You can even select custom chairs to complete your set and create a look that is uniquely you.

Curranberry 7 Piece Formal Dining

Let's Take This to the Next Level
Discover our full selection of dining tables and sets online or visit your nearest Dufresne today. Don’t forget—you can book an appointment at your local store for a relaxed, no-pressure shopping experience with a dedicated home expert.

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