The first step in choosing a dining table is to decide which shape is right for your living space. Will a round table, a rectangular table, or a square table work best? Round tables are flexible, rectangular tables are classic, and an oval shape can marry strengths of both.
Design experts suggest positioning a dining table in the room in such a way that accommodates three or four feet of “chair space” around each side. In smaller spaces or open floor plans, a square table, or an added banquette can be a fun, functional option.
While obvious, it may be helpful to evaluate function. Will you create a formal dining room for special occasions, or will you ask your table to multi-task as a work or play surface, too? Will the table and space need to flex to accommodate large gatherings? Of note, table height is an interesting criteria to consider. See Jason Breen’s blog to learn more and hear user feedback.
Once you’ve clarified the few basic things above, design customization comes into play. What kind of table best expresses your style, and captures the personality of your home? Will it be Mid-Century, Modern, Farmhouse, Shaker, Craftsman, Mission, Victorian, or Traditional? Maybe that’s the easiest part with a custom furniture maker, but it was fun collecting the various examples below.
Round tables offer a great deal of flexibility and they feel really inclusive, encouraging interaction among guests. A small round table can become an oval with drop leaf sides, if the footprint is small but seating needs to accommodate more than four or five people. A glass top, as with David Hurwitz piece below, can be modern, but also light and open in a smaller space.
Rectangular tables are the most popular, whether a classical design or a modern interpretation. If you’re working with a smaller space, don’t be afraid to preserve the length while customizing the width. Even 28″ can allow for place settings, shared dishes, and a bit of elbow room while remaining conversational in a conservative footprint.
Michael Pollan once said, “The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community.” From biology to “an act of culture.” As Vermont’s finest furniture makers, we take our craft seriously. It’s an incredible privilege to work with our clients to create dining tables (and dining spaces) that will be the center of family life and celebration for many generations.