A dining table and chair set can be the stage for an elegant dinner party or serve as a temporary desk for the kids' homework. Whatever you have in mind, buying a dining table and chair set takes a little planning, a little imagination and a little common sense. Narrowing the field by knowing what you want will make buying a dining table and chair set a simple task.
Before you shop, measure the room where you'll place your dining table and chairs. Size your table so that you leave about 48 inches of space between the table and walls.
It makes sense to have as many chairs as you have family members, but what about guests? At a minimum, you'll need two extra chairs beyond your family head count.
Although rectangular tables are popular, there are other options. Square and round tables are perfect for intimate settings. Oval tables are efficient for seating, but are less formal than rectangles.
Although counter-height tables (also known as “pub” tables) are all the rage, consider that young children may have trouble getting on and off higher chairs.
If you're buying chairs to go with an existing table, or a table to go with chairs you own, remember to allow eight inches between the lowest part of the table and the seat of the chair.
Dining tables come in many shapes. Rectangles are popular, while oval tables offer the same seating efficiency with a less formal feel. Round and square tables seat fewer people with a more intimate feel.
Although a pedestal table has more room for seating, it can become unstable at larger sizes. If you need a bigger table, sacrifice seating for stability and go with a four-legged table.
There are a number of ways to enlarge a dining table, including: removable leaves, butterfly leaves (which stay with the table when not in use) and drop-leaf tables, whose leaves hinge down to allow the table to be placed against the wall.
Hard woods, such as cherry or maple, are used in formal pieces and will cost more than average. Soft woods are inexpensive and lend a casual feel to the room. Materials like glass, metal and stone are perfect for a modern décor, but may limit your expansion options.
Pub tables, which have a height similar to your kitchen counters, are currently very popular, but tend to be limited to square and round shapes. Generally, you'll have more choices and flexibility with traditional height furniture.
The dining table can be the axis of your entertaining, the home base for everyday life or both. Purchasing a dining table and chair set should be an investment that lasts for many years. Carefully consider your lifestyle, needs and budget before making a decision.
Although it may be tempting to buy the biggest dining table you can afford, stop and think about the space you have in your home. Measure the room where your dining table will be placed and consider a few basic sizing rules. People seated at the table will need 18 to 24 inches of space to get in and out of their chairs. Serving aisles will need to be at least 48 inches between table and wall. Seated diners will need 24 to 30 inches of space at the table to feel comfortable.
As a rule of thumb, buy two more chairs than you think you'll need. If you don't use the extra chairs regularly, they can be used in other rooms as accent chairs.
Also, if you're considering padded chairs, think carefully about the chair covering. Fabric covered chairs can be a problem to clean—an important point for families with young children. Leather or microfiber upholstery are easy-to-clean options. Removable covers provide for easy clean up as well.
Finally, chairs are available in side chair (no arms) and arm chair models. Arm chairs create a more formal look and are typically more expensive. Side chairs cost less and can result in more seats at the table due to their compact design.
Expandable tables are perfect for holiday and occasional entertaining. Removable leaf tables are a popular option. If you have the space, leaving the leaves in place will keep them from becoming warped or damaged. Butterfly leaf tables feature leaves that stow under the table when not in use. Drop leaf tables have hinged leaves that stay attached to the table and allow the table to be set against the wall in its smaller configuration.
Dining tables come in many shapes and sizes, and each has its benefits. Rectangular and oval tables typically seat the most people—perfect for large families and entertaining. Round and square tables seat fewer people, making them appropriate for kitchens, breakfast nooks or other cozy dining areas. Generally, you'll want seating for four or six in smaller rooms and seating for eight to ten in larger dining areas.