How to Choose the Right Dining Table Size and Shape

There’s far more to choosing the right dining table than meets the eye. The table style- traditional, contemporary, Arts & Crafts, mid-century and other styles- will, of course, depend your home’s décor. However, the table’s size and shape can only be determined after careful consideration of several factors. Read on and learn how to choose a dining table that’s tailored to your dining room’s size and fully  meets your needs.

 

Dining Room Size // The size of your dining room and other furniture in it will guide you in selecting the maximum size of your table. To do this, measure the distance between walls (or the front edge of other furniture placed along walls) and deduct 84”. This is the maximum size table the room can accommodate. 

Why? Because you must allow about 42” of space between all edges of the table and wall (or furniture front edge) so diners can pull out their chair and be seated. It also allows others to walk behind a seated diner. This rule applies to most all table shapes. More on that subject in a minute.

Dining Table Size. Now that you know your table’s maximum size, determine how many people can be seated. Each place requires about 24” of space. This width size allows room for a dinner plate and flatware. It’s also the right space for most dining chairs and elbow-room. 

So, in theory a six-foot long table could accommodate up to three people on each side and one at each end, total of eight. The “theory,” however, depends on the position of the table legs.

Table Leg Position // A well-designed table avoids the dreaded leg straddle. Think about it. If the legs are positioned close to table corners, the theory holds. Bring those legs in to far and you lose two place settings, one on each side. 

Dining Table Width // How wide should a table be? You’ll need 36” to 42”. At these widths, space is allowed for dinner plates and glassware plus room for serving plates, wine bottles, candles, etc., in the middle. 

Table Height // Most all dining tables are 29” to 30” high. This works well because dining chair seats are 17” to 18” off the ground. And there’s another critical element in the table/chair relationship. That’s the width of the table apron or stretcher. These are the horizontal pieces that connect at the top of table legs and form the table’s base. Table aprons should not exceed four inches in width. Any wider and crucial space for comfortable leg room below the apron is encroached .

Table Shape // The most common dining table shape is rectangular and that’s no accident. Most dining rooms are rectangular so the shape compliments the room. A properly sized rectangular table will most accommodate the most diners. Square tables and round tables are effective in smaller spaces but usually offer a limited number of seats, usually four to six. On the plus side these smaller tables provide a more intimate seating arrangement because everyone has a direct view of everyone else. 

Round tables with legs seat fewer people than round tables supported by a pedestal. The space between legs limits the number of place settings. Lastly, don’t be fooled into thinking you can use the 24” per place rule at a round table since the 24” narrows quickly resulting in cramped legroom. 

Sharing a meal is one of the most important social events we do as humans. The experience is optimized when your table is designed for comfort and convenience. Use our guide and you’ll make the right choice and enjoy your table for years to come!

Shop our dining tables here. Custom lengths and widths are available by request

Guest Author: Steve Shanesy

Steve has been a woodworker for more than 35 years. During his career he was Editor and Publisher of Popular Woodworking Magazine for 20 years. He has authored dozens of articles on all aspects of woodworking and cabinetmaking and edited hundreds of others.

Brush Factory for Continuum

 
 Spring lookbook for  Continuum Bazaar  featuring a bff Kit side table. photo by Brooke Shanesy

Spring lookbook for Continuum Bazaar featuring a bff Kit side table. photo by Brooke Shanesy

 
 

Owner and designer Ericka Leighton came to us in 2014 with one thing on her mind.... plants and boobs. Well, sorta of. She told us about her new concept shop idea and how it would be the first of its kind in Cincinnati and that she wanted Brush Factory to assist in the designing and build out of the store. Naturally, we were all over this project. It's fresh, light hearted and she really shares a lot of the same ethos that we do. Everything in her store is sourced from independent small business that are probably manufacturing everything in house and most likely  is made in the United States. She takes great pride in knowing her vendors personally and vetting each one for ethical and sustainable practices.  Take a trip to OTR and pop into this place.  I never leave without something I love and she usually has champagne on ice! 

 
 
 

Hidden Details

 
Cintrifuse Conference table
 
Beautifully handcrafted pieces take time and teamwork.
 
gluing up table
 

Steve and Hayes worked together on two executive conference tables as part of Brush Factory's design and fabrication package for Cincinnati's new Cintrifuse headquarters in Over-the-Rhine.  

The design featured solid black walnut construction through and through which is highly uncommon today among typical office furniture and part of what makes Brush Factory's work so special.  The client wanted these tables to feel more residential in design yet business in scale so Hayes designed special joinery for the base to accommodate an extra long 10 foot solid walnut top. 

 
mortise tenon joinery
 

Each leg and long apron includes a Bridle joint rather than a standard mortise and tenon which allows for the wings at the end to extend past the legs and support the long top.  These joints were cut by hand the old fashioned way and for even greater strength and challenge pinned from the inside with floating tenons that connect the short aprons.  "These were a great challenge to build and part of what makes custom work so fun and interesting" says Hayes, "I can't wait to see these finished."

 
glue up custom conference table
 
solid walnut conference table top
 

For the Love of Wood

 
 

Brush Factory owner and lead cabinetmaker Hayes Shanesy talks woodworking and his passion for the medium.

 

"Woodworking is good for the soul, every woodworker knows thissays Hayes. Brush Factory furniture is primarily made from wood because we're passionate about it.  We love trees in our cities, our parks and of course our forests. Their are few natural living monuments that can compare to the inspiring elegance and beauty of a massive oak.  We choose wood to honor our heritage, the woodworking trade, and because we believe that wood is the most inspiring, natural, uniquely independent material available.  I learned furniture making from my father a master cabinetmaker, Steve Shanesy, who continues to pass on his knowledge today as a lead craftsman in our shop.  Wood is a renewable natural resource that is non harmful, biodegradable, long lasting, locally grown, sustainably forested, and won't end up in a landfill like many of the other products that surround us.

 
 
I’ve been making stuff since I was a kid. I spent many hours in my Dad’s basement shop growing up. I always enjoyed creative projects and building furniture was a terrific outlet for my interest in design.
— Hayes Shanesy
 
 
 
 

Building furniture is a contemplative process based in fundamental practices of technique, design proportion, precision and care.  Their are technical challenges of joinery and engineering but their is a lot of joy in the simplicity too.  Wood is wonderful.  Each tree is unique in its color and grain pattern and different species have completely different properties.  As a completely natural material wood seems to stay alive almost even in a piece of furniture as it expands and contracts with the seasons and almost speaks to you.