The Ultimate Dining Table Buying Guide: Tips for Every Style and Size

Choosing the perfect dining table is like finding the right flavor for that perfect meal - a mix of artistry, practicality, and a pinch of stylishness. Grab your fork and knife as we serve up the ultimate guide to dining table selection.

The significance of choosing the right dining table cannot be overstated. Your dining table is the centerpiece of family gatherings, celebrations, and daily meals. It's where memories are created, conversations flow, and connections are made. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the essential factors to consider when selecting the perfect dining table style and size to match your needs.

Assessing Your Space

Measuring Your Dining Space

Accurate measurements are the foundation of a well-planned dining area. Begin by measuring your dining space, taking note of its length and width. But remember, it's not just about the dimensions of the room. Ensure there's ample space for chairs to be pulled out comfortably, allowing for easy movement around the table. This typically equates to 2 ½-3 feet of walking space around the table.  Additionally, chairs should be placed about 24 inches apart from each other to allow for enough leg and arm room.

Room Layout Considerations

The layout of your dining room plays a crucial role in choosing the right table shape. If you have a wide space, oval and round tables work well. If your space is more narrow, consider a rectangular table that can be extended with built-in butterfly leaves based on the number of diners needing places at the table.

If your dining room isn’t actually a separate room but rather a nook in your kitchen or a section of your living room, consider a bar or counter height table or a smaller round pedestal table where chairs can be pushed all the way under and out of the way.

Choosing the Right Shape

Round Dining Tables

Round dining tables exude elegance and promote intimate conversations where everyone can see and hopefully hear each other. The sizes of round dining tables typically come in the following dimensions:

  • 36 inches is the round table size for 2 people
  • 42-48 inches is the round table size for 4 people
  • 54-60 inches is the round table size for 6 people
  • 60 inches or more is the round table size for 8 or more people
  • Modern Bungalow tables that have removable leaves are 12-18 inches
  • Modern Bungalow tables that have internal butterfly leaves are 18-32 inches

Round tables are best suited for square shaped spaces. Their proportions will look off if you try to place one in a rectangular room.

Rectangular Dining Tables

Rectangular tables are timeless classics and ideal for rectangular shaped rooms that can be either narrow or wide. They work for those who plan to entertain or have large gatherings, even if only occasionally, as both removable and built-in leaves offer extension capabilities. They typically come in the following dimensions:

  • 36-42 inches wide
  • 48 inches long will seat 4 comfortably
  • 60 inches long will seat 4-6 comfortably
  • 78 inches long will seat 8 comfortably
  • Butterfly leaves can extend rectangular tables beyond 80 inches

Exploring Styles and Aesthetics

Farmhouse Dining Tables

The farmhouse style is warm and welcoming, bringing a touch of nature and rustic feel to your space. What makes a farmhouse style dining table?

  • Heavy with a solid wood top combined with solid wood or iron legs
  • Durable, sturdy and practical
  • Typically don’t have leaves for additional seating
  • Fit with any decor from traditional and rustic to modern and industrial

Shop Farmhouse Dining Tables

Mid Century Dining Tables

For lovers of sleek, contemporary design, mid century dining tables are a perfect choice. What makes a mid century dining table?

  • Typically made of wood
  • Simple design with lines that are straight or evenly curved
  • Long tapered legs giving a light and airy feel
  • No ornamentation

Shop Mid Century Dining Tables

Classic Styles: Craftsman, Mission, and Shaker

Classic dining tables, including craftsman, mission, and shaker styles, never go out of fashion. Their enduring appeal means they can even be incorporated into modern spaces. What makes a classic dining table?

  • Made of solid wood often with the natural wood grain emphasized (think quarter sawn oak)
  • Clean and simple lines
  • Exposed mortise and tenon style joinery
  • Tapered legs (Shaker Style)
  • Warm tones

Shop Craftsman, Mission and Shaker Dining Tables

Size Selection

Seating Capacity Guide

Choosing the right table size is crucial when asking yourself questions like ‘how many people can sit at a 60 inch round table’ or ‘what is the size for a table that seats 6’? Check out our handy seating capacity graphics with the most common sized tables, to help you determine the perfect table size based on your needs and available space.

If you’re looking for a different size, just ask us!

Considerations for Small Spaces

Small dining spaces require thoughtful solutions. There are furniture collections built for smaller spaces, like our Shenandoah Collection. Additional space-saving options include tables with butterfly leaves (both removable and built-in), multi-purpose furniture like sofa tables that can double as dining surfaces, or bar and counter height tables.

Finding the Perfect Chairs

Chair Styles and Compatibility

Choosing the right chairs is as important as selecting the table. While many dining tables have matching chairs that are designed to be sold together, it doesn’t mean you have to use them. Different types of chairs can complement various table shapes or you may consider mixing and matching chairs or even incorporating a bench to add more seating and versatility.

  • Be sure the chairs you choose match in scale with the dining table - if they are disproportionate or look ‘off,’ you’ll know.
  • Find chairs that share a common design element with the table for cohesiveness. For example, if the table has tapered legs, find chairs that also taper.
  • Benches are a great alternative and perfect for kids who don’t need as much back support and want to wiggle to their heart's content.
  • Don’t be afraid to use upholstered chairs and add color!

Comfort and Ergonomics

Comfortable seating enhances dining experiences. Take the following points into consideration to understand the importance of chair height when selecting a dining table:

  • Dining chair height should be around 18 inches for a standard table and 24-30 inches for a counter or bar height table (reference guide below)
  • There should be about 12 inches of space between the tabletop and chair seat to allow room for legs and aprons or trim beneath the table
  • For chairs with arms, leave about 7 inches of space between the chair arm and table top so that the chair can slide under


Budget Considerations

Dining Tables and Your Budget

Having a budget for your dining table and chairs is essential when investing in high quality, made for life, solid wood furniture. One of the best pieces of guidance we can offer is spending money in proportion to where you spend most of your time. If the dining table is one of those places - in addition to eating it might be used for working, schoolwork, projects or casual gathering - then it makes sense to invest in something that will last.

Remember that you don’t have to buy everything at once! Create a timeline and determine what pieces you truly need right now.

Balancing Budget and Quality

Investing wisely in a dining table is worthwhile. There are many long-term benefits of owning quality furniture that stands the test of time but it doesn’t mean there aren’t also ways to save when it comes to tables and chairs.

  • Choose types of woods that won’t break the bank like red oak, character cherry and plain sawn oak instead of mahogany, walnut and quartersawn oak
  • Solid, one piece tables without leaves will typically cost less
  • Tables with legs typically cost less than tables with central pedestals
  • Arm chairs cost more than side chairs - consider using side chairs all around

Maintenance and Care

Maintaining Solid Wood

Solid wood dining tables require surprisingly easy care to keep them looking their best. Our maintenance tips and cleaning routines will help you preserve the beauty and longevity of your wood table.

  • Trust in the quality of solid wood furniture sold by Modern Bungalow
  • Carefully crafted joints allow for expansion and contraction to keep the fit and integrity of each piece of furniture
  • Finished with a post-catalyzed lacquer guaranteed to protect the furniture
  • Simple dusting is often all that’s needed with a soft cloth or feather duster
  • To keep dust away longer, use a lambswool duster with lanolin or a damp terry cloth

Tips for Preventing Damage

Protecting your dining table from wear and tear is easy to do. The sooner you treat the spill or stain the better. Here are some tips to help prevent common damages:

  • If a spill occurs, wipe immediately with a soft cloth
  • If a white ring has formed, try applying heat from a hair dryer or spread petroleum jelly and wipe away with a damp cloth
  • Ink stains:
  • On untreated wood: mix baking soda with water and pour over stain, wipe away and dry immediately
  • On treated wood: mix dish soap and water and test a small spot before treating the whole stain to not ruin the finish
  • Don’t use chemicals (ammonia or silicone) on solid wood as they can be absorbed and ruin the wood
  • Use coasters, placemats, trivets, tablecloths and felt pads to protect the surface whenever possible

One last thing…

Choosing the perfect dining table involves careful consideration of your space, style, and size requirements. We've covered all the essential factors in this ultimate dining table buying guide, empowering you to make an informed decision that enhances your dining experience. Remember, your dining table is more than just furniture; it's where memories are created and cherished.

Back to blog

Need inspiration?

Find your next treasure. Explore our curated inspirations for your home.

1 of 4