Choosing the right dining furniture can be an exciting thing to contemplate â€“ after all, dining in is the new going out. Plus, a dining table is often the one piece of furniture that will be with you, and possibly the next generation down, for an awful long time. So it's worth doing a little research to find the right design to suit your space and lifestyle, because creating a welcoming and comfortable dining area is more tricky than one might think.
It all hinges on how you envisage your dinner parties to be, from an elegant affair with crystal glassware and crisp linen napkins to a raucous Bacchanalian feast. Whatever your gastronomic proclivities, however, rest assured there is furniture out there to suit everyone, and a luxury interior designer can help you select exactly the right style.
First, consider where your table is going to go and how many guests on average you think you are likely to entertain to help determine the size of table you choose. When you've got a rough guesstimate, measure out the dimensions on a piece of newspaper and place it in the chosen area. This will give you a good idea of how the furniture will work, and how much maneuverability there is around and behind it – ideally, you'll need around 90cm between the table and the wall.
To accommodate extra guests at special occasions, tables that have drop, drawer, centre or end leaves provide the versatility for larger entertaining options, without taking up too much space on a permanent basis.
Round tables are perfect for intimate dining
Next consider the shape of the table â€“ square, rectangular, oval or round. Sounds easy, but when you start to look at the selections available, it can be a bit confusing. High end interior designers, however, can help guide you through the options, advising on what would best suit your specific dining needs and style of room.
Circular and square dining tables are perfect for an intimate setting, while rectangular and oval designs offer the best versatility for more than four guests and a bigger dining/banqueting experience. With its absence of corners, an oval table can also be a clever option for a tighter space.
Something you also need to consider both aesthetically and practically is the mounting of the table (single pedestal, four legs, or two trestles), and height. Here, dining tables can differ (the standard is between 71cm to 76cm), so if you're buying chairs separately, measure your table first as this could affect your choice of seating when putting together your interior design.
For width, the surface of your dining table should be wide enough (the ideal is between 91cm and 112cm) to accommodate place settings and centrepieces, but not too expansive to make passing things around tricky or difficult to hear one another.
Monastic refectory simplicityâ€¦
When it comes to materials, wood is often the first port of call and provides a range of styles and finishes. There's everything from solid boardroom designs, with ornate, carved legs in rich, dark finishes; monastic refectory simplicity; no fuss country pine; elegant Shaker to slimline Retro. Add a bit of metal into the mix (either the frame or even the surface) or stone, and you've got an uber contemporary almost industrial, brutalist feel.
For a less modern, yet chic look, a glass-topped table provides good looks with the added benefit of being space-enhancing (albeit stubborn when it comes to fingerprints, and slightly chilly on the arms should your guests be uncouth enough to put their elbows on the table, which of course they won't!).
A dining table is where friends and family gather to enjoy a meal, chat, and exchange views; so it's worth investing in something beautiful and long lasting, from which to enhance the experience. Think of it as having an extra guest at your dinner party â€“ someone good looking, solid and reliable – the John Wayne or even better, Carey Grant of dining furniture.
Keep an eye out for a future blog on dining chairs…