In many cases, a dining table is at the heart of the home. It’s a place where friends and family can come together, sit down and enjoy some tasty food. So if you feel like your dining room needs a bit of a makeover or deserves some TLC, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together this Dining Table Buying Guide to help answer all of your dining table needs. From knowing your table measurements to choosing the right finish to coordinate with your space, we’ve got it covered.
How to Choose the Right Dining Table
If you’ve already started browsing the variety of dining tables on the market, you’ll have seen there’s a lot of choices available. Don’t let that overwhelm you though, as the first step will always be narrowing down your search. Ask yourself the following questions and make a note of each suggestion. Chances are there will be a table out there that ticks all of the right boxes!
Q1 – How will you use your dining table?
Everyday dining = a table that’s durable and easy to clean will be the main priority.
Hub of your home = you’ll want a table that’ll bring people together in a warm and welcoming environment.
Mainly for special occasions = a table with a wow factor and really premium look will be best to impress your guests. Table extensions will come in handy too.
Doubling up as a workstation or desk = you’ll want a table with a durable surface and enough space for laptops and books.
Q2 – How many do you need to sit at your dining table?
2-4: many two seater tables can seat up to four, so this is an ideal option if you’re a little pushed for space.
4-6: Having a table that seats six when you on average only have four is a great option (if you have the space) as you’ll always have room for guests.
6-8: a six to eight seater dining table will be a real staple piece in your dining room. It’s sure to be an investment piece.
Q3 – What table finish would be best?
A glossy or matt table finish will instantly create a clean-lined a crisp look. Timber or wood finishes will add both warmth and texture to your dining space. A clear glass dining table is ideal if you want to create a fresh, open and modern dining setting. Choose a frosted glass table if you’re after a durable table with a soft, hazy appearance and a hint of colour.
Q4 – Do you need an extending table?
- You entertain regularly
- You have the space to fill
- You’re after a versatile seating arrangement
- You’re short on space
- You don’t need extra seats
- You don’t think you’d benefit from the extension
Q5 – What shape dining table would be best?
Round or oval – always feels social and is great for maximising any space. A round table top takes up less room and offers more seating flexibility.
Square – gives an open and spacious feel with plenty of table top surface available. Easy to turn an unused corner into a cosy dining spot.
Rectangular – lots of choices available and easy to fit within most rooms. Great match with dining benches.
Hopefully, that will have given you a better idea of the type of table you are after. We’ll break each part down in a bit more detail later in this post.
How to Measure a Dining Table
We understand that measuring a dining table isn’t as fun as choosing shapes, styles and finishes. However, it needs to be done! To make things that bit easier, we’ve highlighted the main dining table measurements that you’ll need to consider:
- Table height. This is a key measurement when it comes to choosing dining chairs.
- Table length. This will help you decide how well the table will fit in your space.
- Table width. This is especially important if you are planning on using the table ends.
- Inner leg length. This is the table length from inside the table legs, not the length of the table top.
- Apron. This is the depth of the table top which will differ greatly depending on the table top material and table design.
And if the table extends:
Make sure you measure the table length both with and without the extensions in place.
Ask yourself: will everyone fit? You’ll want to leave enough space for any extra chairs to be tucked in and out.
Find out where the extensions are stored: separately or within the table top?
Top Tip: if the table extension leaves can’t be stored within the table, a great and safe place to store them is under your sofa or bed. This won’t take up any of your existing storage space and will keep the extension pieces safely and neatly out of the way.
Dining Table Spacing:
When measuring your dining table, it’s also a good idea to mark out your room. To do this, cut out some fabric or card and lay it where you’re planning on having your dining table. This is the easiest way to get a feel for how much physical space the table will occupy.
We suggest leaving around 70cm to 90cm between the edge of your table and each wall or between other pieces of furniture in the room. This is so that chairs can be pulled out with ease and leaves enough room for people to pass through.
Dining Chair Spacing:
Allow between 60cm to 80cm per place setting, dependant on whether you want a cosier feel or a more spacious setting.
Remember to also check the width of the footprint of the chairs you are considering. It’s where the feet will go that defines if they’ll fit or not. Measure between the legs from the narrowest point of the table to ensure your chairs will fit neatly under.
Top Tip: The length measurement of a table refers to the length of the table top, not from where you can fit your chairs tucked in underneath. Generally speaking, the description of the table will include how many it can seat, but if you are hoping to squeeze in a few more or use other chairs, make sure you check.
What Dining Table is Right for My Space?
If you’re short on space…
Opt for a dining table that has a space saving pedestal base. This will allow you keep the base of your table looking spacious, with the option to squeeze in and pull up a couple more seats when needed. A round dining table is also a little less restrictive on how many people you can seat giving you a bit more flexibility in a smaller seating area. Material wise, a clear glass dining table will be less visually impactful in a space due to the transparency of the glass, so this will help to open up the look and feel of a smaller dining room.
If you entertain semi regularly and have the room…
It’s best to upsize. So if you have a household of four, go for a table that seats six. If you have a household of six, opt for an eight seater table and so on. This is a smart table choice as the extra place settings won’t take up much more room but you’ll have the seating space available for when you need it. A square or round dining table will create a more intimate dining setting as everyone will be sat equally apart, making it a great choice for sociable dining.
If you entertain semi regularly but don’t have a lot of space, or if you don’t want a large dining table all of the time…
Then an extending dining table will answer all of your styling needs! This is because you can extend the table as and when you need the extra seats. Just make sure the table has enough space to be fully extended. You’ll also want to check if the table extensions can be stored within the table top and if they’re not, whether you have a place to store them externally when not in use.
Once you have a better idea of the style of dining table you’re going to choose, the next step will be considering your dining chairs…
A round dining table… looks effortlessly sleek and smooth when styled alongside rounded back and curved dining chairs, such as our Form and Santo chairs. This look works so well as the shape of the table is carried through to the shape of the chairs to create a really soft and inviting setting.
An extending table… is a great match with a stackable dining chair is as you can stack and store the chairs when not needed.
Chrome or metal finishes… will allow you to match up table and chair legs. Having a dining table alongside chairs with a coordinating metal finish will instantly help to tie the whole dining set together.
A glass dining table… is a great opportunity to add a splash of colour to your space. Clear glass can be placed alongside a whole variety of colours so you can really have some fun with your styling.
If you’d like to read some more tips on how to choose the right dining chair, check out our handy How To Choose The Right Dining Chair blog post.
A dining table is such a staple feature of any dining room. That’s why the shape and style you choose will really have an impact on the rest of your dining space. Whether your room already has a particular theme, or if you want to create a certain type of look, there is sure to be a table design that suits all of your styling needs.
Traditional Interior Styling (with a modern twist):
If you have more of a traditional interior and don’t want to jump right in with loads of glossy and reflective finishes, a great option is to go for a wooden table that also has metal elements. The Angola table, for example, has a wonderfully tactile wooden table top while the brushed metal legs will add a subtle yet sleek modern flair.
Scandi Interior Styling:
When it comes to Scandi styling, the colour palette tends to be very light and neutral. Using colours such as light grey and white gives Scandi style its signature clean and calming look, while the incorporation of wooden textures stops the space looking sparse. This is because wooden finishes help to add a touch of warmth. Dining tables like the Cleo 6 Seater Oak and Matt White Dining Table is a great way to add a practical yet stylish Scandi look to your dining space.
Minimal Interior Styling:
If you love simplistic design and minimal interiors, chances are you’ll want a dining table that reflects this too. A table like the Neo 6 to 8 Seater Glass Dining Table, with its clear glass top and clean leg frame, are ideal as they add a modern and designer look without being too impactful or overpowering.
What Material Dining Table?
Now we’ve covered dining table sizing and shapes, let’s take a look at dining table finishes. We’ve touched on a couple of these designer finishes already, but here’s a comprehensive breakdown of each finish, what look it’ll create in your dining area and how to clean it.
High Gloss Dining Table
The Look: bright, fresh and super modern.
Especially Good For: versatile styling. White and grey gloss finishes can be styled alongside a whole variety of dining chair finishes and materials in your existing interior due to their neutral qualities. Gloss is also a very sleek and contemporary dining table finish.
Care and Cleaning: use a soft, microfibre damp cloth. You can add a dab of mild detergent like washing up liquid to clean more stubborn marks. Make sure you dry a gloss dining table after cleaning. Most importantly, avoid throwing anything sharp on or across the surface as this will mark the gloss.
Matt Finished Dining Table
The Look: soft, cool and contemporary dining.
Especially Good For: a relaxed family setting. A matt dining table will also effortlessly blend with multiple finishes so it’s a quick style fix.
Care and Cleaning: similar to gloss, use a soft damp cloth to clean matt painted furniture. Be sure to dry the table after cleaning and don’t drag anything sharp across the surface.
Tempered Glass Dining Table
The Look: clear, crisp and fresh.
Especially Good For: glass is a really safe, durable material that creates the illusion of more space. Glass also allows you to be really bold with your chair styles and colours choices.
Care and Cleaning: you can use antibacterial sprays, even ones that contain bleach, on a glass dining table as the glass is nonporous. Then use a specific glass spray, such as a window cleaner, to protect the surface from smears using a lint free cloth. Alternatively, you can also use soapy lukewarm water and dish soap to give the table a good clean.
Top Tip: Remember to also clean the underside of your glass table if it’s transparent. It won’t need an in depth clean like the top surface, but it’s still important to clean and maintain the underside to keep your table looking its best.
Frosted Glass Dining Table
The Look: soft, slightly hazy and calming.
Especially Good For: durable dining. Frosted glass is the most durable possible version of a matt finish as it is made from tempered safety glass. It’s a luxurious but practical smooth finish.
Care and Cleaning: to clean frosted glass, use a non-streaking window cleaner or antibacterial spray and a soft lint free towel. Don’t place hot utensils straight from the oven onto a frosted glass surface and don’t drag anything sharp across the table surface.
HPL Finish Dining Table
The Look: satin with a subtle sheen. Bright but not glossy.
Especially Good For: families and busy mealtimes. HPL is incredibly strong, durable, practical and easy to maintain so it’s an ideal choice for something as often used as a dining table.
Care and Cleaning: HPL can withstand common household cleaners such as washing-up liquid or antibacterial spray, so these are all fine for use on the surface. However, stay away from corrosive chemicals such as descaling agents, oven cleaners, chlorine and acetone as this will damage the surface.
If you’d like to learn more about HPL, we’ve featured this durable finish in a Material Spotlight blog post which you can view here.
White or Grey Oak Veneer Dining Table
The Look: the best of both; the texture of timber with a clean even painted surface.
Especially Good For: a setting that has lots of texture but still needs to feel modern.
Care and Cleaning: use a paper towel or a clean dish cloth rather than a sponge to clean the veneer, as a sponge will more than likely just spread the liquid across the surface. For the best results, try to wipe up any spills as soon as they happen.
Timber Veneers (oak, black ash, wenge, walnut) Dining Tables
The Look: warm and textured with a crisp finish.
Especially Good For: coordinating with other timber finishes. A wood veneer is a great alternative to a plain white or grey surface, and is ideal for adding depth and making quite a statement.
Care and Cleaning: to clean a wooden veneer, dampen a non-abrasive lint free cloth and move in the direction of the wood grain. For more stubborn marks, apply a dab of mild dishwashing detergent to your cloth. Avoid using wax-based polishes or cleaning products as they are designed for raw solid timbers rather than veneers and can cause a cloudy appearance on the surface.
Real Wood Dining Table
The Look: tactile, warm and textured.
Especially Good For: styling alongside more modern finishes. Real wood dining tables are both long lasting and very durable. They will also bring such a welcoming and inviting feel to any dining space.
Care and Cleaning: use dish soap and water on your wooden finishes, applied with a damp cloth. Try not to scrub repeatedly in the same area though as this will damage the protective seal on the wood’s surface
Still can’t choose?
Go for a mixed material dining table. A dining table with a combination of finishes is a great way to introduce a variety of textures and colours in your space, without making your dining setting look mismatched or messy. We’ve done the edit on our range of mixed material dining tables so you know you’ll be choosing a piece that’s been carefully considered.
And Finally… make sure you use placemats and coasters each mealtime if you want to protect your table surface and keep it looking its best for longer.
Phew, we’ve made it! Everything you need to know when shopping for a dining table. We’ve also created a handy pocket guide full of dining table buying info that you can view and print here.
Many of the table and chair combinations shown in this post are also available as pre made sets. If you like what we’ve put together, be sure to take a look at our dining set collections.