Finding the Right Dining Room Table

You want your dining room table to seat family and friends comfortably, but you also need it to sit inside your home. Getting the perfect dining room table to fit your floor plans is about striking a balance between personal preference and function. Here are some considerations when choosing this key piece of furniture:

Ample table space
Dining room tables are meant for family and formal feasts alike. As such, you'll want a table that can accommodate place settings and serving dishes comfortably, as well as candles and centerpieces. Be sure to account for elbow room in addition to space taken up for plates, silverware, drinks and side dishes. Any less space than two feet per person will feel crowded. If you have people sitting across from one another, you'll want a table that's at least three feet wide.

You'll also want to keep in mind how many people you plan to seat around your table. Couples who expect to have kids should plan for a potential need for more place settings in the future. Also, if you plan on hosting holiday dinners or even friendly gatherings, you may want to invest in a table that fits more than just your family unit. However, you may not have any interest in hosting dinner parties or even eating meals in the dining room. If you plan to use that space as a flex room, feel free to choose a table that better suits your needs.

Chair and walking room
Guests at your table are going to need to get up out of their chairs, not to mention ample room to walk around the dining area. While you can technically fit chairs with two feet of room between table and wall, three feet will make for a much more comfortable dining space. You should also give yourself more room if you plan to have other furnishings in the room, such as a liquor trolley or a cabinet for fine china. However, you may also get away with less room on one side if the adjacent wall is knocked down for an open layout.

Matching design
Your final consideration should be how the table fits with the overall design of the room. You may want to find a table that fits the style of the rest of the room. A formal, neocolonial space may look best with an antique table, while a room decorated in the vein of country house plans may look best with something more roughly hewn and rustic. However, much more important than the material and ornament of the table is its shape. 

In a square room, you can easily fit any shape of table, whether round, square or rectangular. However, in oblong rooms, a circular or square table will likely look strange. Furthermore, the table should be oriented to parallel the layout of the space, so that the longer sides of a table correspond with the longer sides of the room. This layout also maximizes efficiency.

Looking at a test case
Craftsman house plans such as this one feature plenty of versatility in terms of dining. In addition to the dining room, there is also a nook and a barbecue porch, all of which can have a dining table. To illustrate the previous points, a table in the dining room should probably be no less than 3' by 3' and no bigger than 7' by 10'. If need be, the dining room can cheat on the 2' walk space rule on the side closest to the foyer. Given the presence of the fireplace and the semi-open layout between the dining room and the family room, a small, modest dining room table may be the best option to match the space.