When designing your dining room, one of the biggest questions is what kind of table to get – even what shape. Interior designers agree on the right way to pick your table, and luckily, it’s really not that complicated.
As a general rule, rectangular and oval tables will work best for rectangular-shaped rooms and larger groups. Square or round tables, on the other hand, can only seat around 4-6 people (8 maximum) and are best for square rooms. The two most important factors in determining which table shape to get are:
- The shape and size of the dining area
- The number of people that the table must generally seat
Continue reading to learn more about how to pick a table – what size you need, which table is best for a small space, and how to make sure it works well with your other furniture. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
Dining Table Shapes
Let’s take a closer look at the variety of dining table shapes and how to pick the best one for your space.
Rectangular tables are the most popular, and for good reason. The shape makes them fit well into the typical, rectangle-shaped dining room. They are flexible- they can seat a few people, but also expand easily for large groups when needed. They have the most space available for holding dishes, serving utensils, and whatever else you need during a meal.
On the other hand, they take up a lot of room. For smaller rooms, they may be cumbersome. They can also feel impersonal and large when only 2 or 3 people are seated around the table.
Rectangular Dining Set
This simple but stylish table can fit 5-6 people, particularly with that flexible bench seat.
These are best for tight, narrow, rectangular rooms. Oval tables are similar to rectangular tables. For the most part, they work for larger groups. However, because of the rounded corners, some surface area is lost compared to a rectangular table.
If you regularly have a large group for dinner, stick to rectangles. Conversely, if you have a moderate-sized group (4-6) but like to have the option to fit a few extra guests on occasion, an oval table might be just the right fit.
Oval Dining Set
Tables that are square-shaped work well, as expected, in square rooms. Square tables do offer a certain intimacy for small dinners; however, you should avoid tables that are longer than 4 feet on each side. Any size bigger can make it feel as though you are stretching to pass food and shouting to be heard.
A 4 feet by 4 feet table will only be able to seat 4-6 people. If you expect to need more seating than this, a rectangular table is probably the better option. However, if you will rarely need extra seating, it may be worth noting that 2 square tables can be placed together for an occasional, infrequent version of a rectangle table.
Square Dining Set
Round tables are best for a small, square room. A table with a diameter any wider than 4 feet can make socializing difficult; however, round tables can be very intimate and work well for a small group. Because of this limited table size, round tables generally only work for 4-6 people. At the absolute most, you can make seats for 8 people- but only if you serve the food from another table or buffet.
Round Dining Set
This selection fits 4 with lots of table room for everyone. It also has 2 drop leaves so that the table can be made smaller when not in use.
What Type Of Dining Table Is Best For A Small Space?
Small spaces and round or square tables go hand in hand. For an especially small space, the curved sides of a round table make it the best option. For the most part, if a round table can’t fit, nothing can.
The downside to round tables is the limited number of guests they can hold. However, in a small room, a limited number of people would be able to comfortably fit anyway. If you’re considering a round table for your room, you may be interested in learning How To Decorate A Round Dining Room Table.
Can You Put A Round Table In A Rectangular Room?
Because of the uneven visual of a round table in a rectangular space, it’s generally best to only put round tables in a square room. If you really want a round table in a rectangular room, it’s an easy problem to solve.
Simply find a square or rounded space to serve as the “dining area” within the room. A square table within a square space has the correct proportion to be visually pleasing and not seem out of place. With the remainder of the room, fill the space with some sort of alternative. Perhaps you can place a chest or cupboard, china cabinet, shelves, or any other creative ways of furnishing the room. You can find other suggestions here: How To Fill Empty Space In Dining Room [5 Awesome Ideas!]
What Size Table To Use?
A dining room table and chairs can take up a surprising amount of space in a room. In addition, you’ll need space to move comfortably around the room.
Start by finding the length and width of the room, and subtract 6 feet from each. This will tell you the maximum space available for your table. For example, if your room is 11 feet by 10 feet, you should select a table that is no larger than 5 feet by 4 feet.
If the space available is a small (4 foot or less) square, you may want to strongly consider a square or round table. When the available space turns out to have one measurement that is very wide and another that is very narrow (for example, a room that is 3 feet wide by 6 feet long), an oval may be the best shape for your space. If the remaining space makes a proportional rectangle and neither measurement is particularly small, a rectangle table is generally the best selection.
One helpful hint is to use blue painters tape to mark off the area in the middle of the room where you expect to place the table. This can help you visualize the size and shape of the table to determine which one is the best choice for you.
What Is The Average Height of a Dining Table?
A dining table is, on average, 28-30 inches tall. There are other options, such as bar height tables (which are around 42 inches high) or counter height tables (generally 36 inches). Read more about these differences here: How High Should A Dining Table Be?
Should The Dining Table Match The Other Furniture In The Room?
Matching isn’t the only option for furniture. You can create a beautiful, well-designed room and not match a single thing! Simply remember the “other” way to decorate – a style commonly referred to as “coordinated.”
When the decor in a room is coordinated, it means that there’s a clear series of elements that tie everything together in the end. For example, maybe the curtains have a floral pattern. As a result, you select a painting for the wall that uses the same flower. A dominant color in the painting is also the color of the chairs. The chairs have a scalloped pattern on the back, which is similar to the scallop on the wall shelves.
Every single one of those elements is different, but they all have something in common with something else. This means the end result looks deliberate and unified. To learn more about not matching as a design choice, check out the post: Do Dining Chairs Have to Match? [Here’s Why Not].
When selecting a new dining room table, you’ll need to consider the available space. If the space for a table is square, then a round or square table is generally the best option. When the space is narrow and rectangular, you may find an oval table to be a better fit. Rectangular tables are best in rooms that are standard rectangles themselves, or when large groups are regularly being seated for dinner.