5 Rules for Choosing a Dining Room Table (Plus Some to Buy)

5 Rules for Choosing a Dining Room Table (Plus Some to Buy)

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Megan Hopp
Sep 21, 2017
(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Whether you're looking to buy your first table or you want to upgrade the hand-me-down you've been eating off of for years, the market can be overwhelming. A single search on Overstock for "dining room and kitchen tables" comes up with 2,380 results. And that's just one site!

To help you narrow it down, I've distilled my five key rules for picking out a dinner table. What do I know, you ask? I'm an interior designer and I've picked out my fair share of tables.

1. Always go bigger than you think is necessary.

The hardest thing I have to do as a designer is convince clients that their furniture needs to be just a little bit bigger than they think it does! I hear things like, "We don't really sit at the dining table that much," or "There are only three of us." Well, there may be only three of you, but if you have a dining room that is suited for a table for six then that room is going to look sad and empty — no matter how many bar carts and planters you add into the room.

2. Leave three feet of clearance space.

If you go too far the other way, cramming in a table that's too big for the space, it will look overwhelming and cluttered. The magic number here is three. You want to keep approximately three feet of space open behind your chairs in order to leave room for you and your guests to get up and down from the table.

3. Choose a round table if you're short on space.

Round tables are a great compact use of space. They tend to have smaller footprints than rectangular or square, so you can usually fit them into a space that isn't ideal for a different type of table. They're also great for in-kitchen dining spaces, breakfast nooks, and open-concept living-eating areas.

Some to Buy

4. Get a glass table if you have a dark apartment.

Something I hear often: "I want the space to feel light and airy." It's a common request, but unfortunately not every home has an abundance of space or great natural light. The answer? A glass table. It will always open up and lighten any space. Yes, a glass table will require a bit more maintenance than a wood-topped one when it comes to errant smudges, but a little swipe of glass cleaner will clear things up quickly. I usually recommend keeping a simple centerpiece on this table, and pairing it with bold chairs.

Some to Buy

5. Don't be afraid of metallics.

Gold, silver, brass, iron — and all the metallics in between — stand strong on their own and they pair well with practically every color or pattern under the sun. You basically never have to worry if your copper table legs will match the great new wallpaper you find — because the answer will always be yes! Don't be afraid to mix metals, either. The thought of two shiny shades being side by side can frighten some folks, but I actually tell clients it's a safer bet to avoid being redundant and too matchy in your design.

Some to Buy

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