Every house needs a dining table. But it can be hard to choose one from the many options out there. Small or large, round or square – tables come in all shapes and sizes.
Plus, your dining table is an elemental part of your home. It’s where your family will gather every day to eat, not to mention socialize and play games. It’s also the focal point of any room. All the interior design will need to complement it.
Needless to say, choosing the right dining table is no easy task. Dining tables can last up to 20 years, so it’s a long-term investment and you shouldn’t settle until you find one you absolutely love.
This guide will walk you through how to choose a dining table for your home step by step. We’ll touch on every factor to consider before you take the plunge.
Let’s get started.
1. Determine Your Budget
Before you start shopping, determine your budget. You shouldn’t spend more than you can afford. A good new dining table can easily cost over $1,000.
Your dining table should be nice, but you can always upgrade later. It’s definitely not something worth going into debt over. So decide how much you’re willing to spend first and stick to it.
If you’re on a tighter budget, you can also look at used tables. Check out yard sales or go online to sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. You may get lucky and even find a free listing every once in a while. Of course, if you go for a used table, it will dramatically limit your selection.
2. Choose the Table Size
Next, choose what table size you need. A table that’s ill-proportioned or won’t fit in the room is a nonstarter.
To make sure you get the right size, carefully measure the dimensions of the room. Write down its width and length. Then subtract 3 feet of space from both. You want at least this much space between the table and the walls so it’s easy for people to get in and out of their seats.
If it’s a large room, aim for a bigger table when in doubt. That way, it can support more guests and family as occasion requires.
3. Choose the Table Shape
Now, consider the table’s shape. You have four primary shapes to choose from: rectangle, square, circle, or oval:
- Rectangular tables are the most common form. They best complement rectangular rooms and can fit a lot of people.
- Square tables are good for square rooms and when you only need to seat 4 people at a time. But sometimes, they come with extendable leaves you can add to make room for more than 4.
- Round tables are great square and tight spaces. They give a more intimate and cozy feel by allowing people to squeeze around it more easily.
- Oval tables are similar to rectangular tables in that they are good for rectangular rooms. And without corners, they also allow more people to fit around.
4. Choose the Table Material
With the shape and size settled, you’re ready to choose the table material. This choice will depend on the look you’re after and the level of durability you want.
Here are your main options:
- Wood is your classic material. It’s durable and easy to repair. However, it also expands and contracts with the heat.
- Veneer table tops are designed to look like wood but are more affordable. They’re made up of a very thin cut of wood plastered onto a hard core material like fiberboard.
- Glass can give your table a more elegant and open feel. You can also place a glass tabletop on top of wood, to protect the dining table and increase its longevity.
- Stone tables are usually made of marble, quartz, or cast stone. They are very durable, but they also absorb stains more easily.
- Metal tables are another sturdy option. Often made from stainless steel or brass, they can have a very industrial or utility look that only appeals to some.
- Plastic and laminate tables are a budget-friendly option. They can still be pretty durable, but they tend to have a cheap look to them, which could be a turnoff for many.
5. Choose the Table Style
Now it’s time for final matters of taste—style. When choosing a dining table, you want it to have a style that fits your personality and the personality of the rest of your home.
When in doubt, choose a timeless style. Something that won’t go out of fashion or be quickly outgrown. This means nothing too flashy or forward. The simpler, the better.
A major point of style is the table’s base. Does it have legs, trestles, or a pedestal? Each has a unique vibe, so you won’t want to neglect this important consideration. The base also impacts how many can fit around the table. For example, a single central pedestal will offer more legroom than traditional table legs will.
6. Assess the Table Quality
At this point, you’ve narrowed your choices considerably. Now, make sure you choose a table that is stable and of good construction. The quality should be top-notch.
Make sure there is minimal wear if the table is used and none if it is new. Check the joinery, where the base and tabletop fit together. The more firmly these are connected, the better.
7. Ask Yourself If You Love It
Before you make your final decision, you need to make sure you absolutely love it. This is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
If possible, sit at the table in person at a local furniture store. Do your legs have enough room underneath? Get a general feel for the table and imagine what it would be like to own.
Visualize how the table would look in your home. If you are buying from IKEA, you can even use their free artificial reality (AR) app IKEA Place. It will superimpose a digital image of the table onto a camera shot of your living space, so you know what it would look like there.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. If you’ve found the one, make the purchase and throw a dinner party to break in the new table with family and friends. Then enjoy it for years to come.