What material is best for a dining table? How big should it be? Which way? Here’s what to look for when shopping for a dining table, and a selection of the best on the market.
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The humble dining room table can, and often does, serve as the centerpiece of your home. Far from simply being a place to eat, they frequently double as workspaces for home office work or studying teens; a place to socialize with friends and family; scenario of endless board games and puzzles; a stable surface for arts, crafts and all kinds of hobbies.
So it’s worth taking the time to consider what you want from a dining table before you buy one – a sound investment can serve you for years to come. This is what you should consider before you buy.
Try to get the largest table that your space can accommodate
You may think you have little reason for a large dining table, reasoning that you don’t use it much or that there are a limited number of people living there. But if you have room for a dining table, you’d do well to get the largest table that the space can accommodate.
This will mean you have room for entertaining, if it comes up, and the room won’t look dreary or empty with too much space around it. You’ll also be surprised at how useful the dining table space is.
What do we mean by “the largest table that the space can accommodate”?
You must leave a meter of free space.
That means about a meter (3 feet, if you prefer) of open space behind the chairs, so you can easily get up and down from the table.
Round tables are great if you live in a smaller space.
Of course, not all of us necessarily have a dedicated dining room, let alone a large one. If your dining space is in the kitchen or open-plan living room, consider a round table – they are smaller in size than rectangular tables and allow for multiple people to sit around them. If it’s good enough for King Arthur…
The material you choose depends on your lifestyle.
Tables are made in a variety of materials – whichever you choose will of course be driven by aesthetics, but there are a few other key considerations at any given time.
Wood: wooden tables are durable and easy to repair when scratched. Popular reasonably priced wood choices are pine, acacia, mango, and teak.
Rock: Stone-topped tables (such as marble) are very durable, but they are porous, making them prone to soaking up stains (with a pourer if desired). They are also usually quite heavy.
Glass: Glass top tables are often recommended for darker spaces as they connote openness and space. The downside is that they scratch very easily and will show every fingerprint, so they are better for clean and conscientious people.
Plastics and laminates: If you’re shopping on a budget, buying a table with a plastic or laminate top will be inexpensive. They are also easy to clean and maintain. The main disadvantage is that people may perceive them as “cheap”.
Metallic accents go with just about everything.
If your table has metal legs, struts or accents, it will help your dining table blend in with its surroundings. Gold, silver, iron, and brass are eye-catching, attractive, and go with most color schemes.
Our favorite dining tables now in stock
Celena Oval Dining Table, Bleached Oak & Brass
Dimensions: H. 75 x W. 200 x D. 100 cm Structure: Oak, oak veneer and brass
Why we love it: It’s elegant without being clunky. The gilt brass frame has an opulence to it, but you’re not entering Marie Antoinette territory. The edges are rounded and smooth, ideal if you want to make sure everyone can enjoy a conversation over dinner. It would be perfect for a light and airy dining room or, if you’re lucky, a glass conservatory, for a delicious breakfast.
Vintage Style Watford Inlaid Dining Table
Dimensions: Length: 150cm x Height: 75cm x Depth: 90cm Structure: MDF top with rounded corners in walnut marquetry
Why we love it: This 1950s-inspired table will stay eternally stylish and is large enough to seat 6, yet surprisingly light enough to be easily moved around if you’re looking to redecorate or organize your dining room.
Assembly also takes about 30 minutes: a stress-free experience.
Salisbury Dining Table
Dimensions: W180 x D90 x H78cm Frame: Solid European Oak
Why we love it: Versatile and elegant, the Salisbury Oak Dining Table can fit many interior styles, from raw and industrial, traditional and rustic, to relaxed yet elegant.
With a natural oiled finish that shows individual knots, grains and splits, this is a strong and durable table, one that could last for generations if taken care of.
Talisa – Extendable Dining Set
Dimensions: L.106-136cm x W.80 x H.75cm Structure: Solid wood structure with high pressure laminated board
Why we love it: Because it’s ideal if you have a house full of smaller people prone to making a mess. The tabletop has antibacterial and antifungal properties and is scratch resistant, so it’s designed to deal with clutter and noise.
It has an understated elegant look and the table top can be extended from 4 to 6 seats, so you can feed additional mouths as they pass by.
Murcell Oval Dining Table, Marble
Dimensions: H76 x W200 x D120 cm / H29.9 x W78.7 x D47.2″
Why we love it: Marble is timeless, durable and easy to clean. With a solid oak pillar base, this is an admittedly heavy dining set, one you won’t necessarily want to move.
But if you want a dining room where the table is a true focal point, for dinners that can last well into the night, this table is ideal: its oval shape allows for a large surface for food and drinks and at least six chairs around it.
The clean lines of the white marble table are light and bright – it truly is an eye-catcher and will last for generations.
Large Earth Dining Table, 4 Dining Chairs and Large Dining Bench
Dimensions: 190 cm long x 76 cm high x 95 cm deep Structure: Solid oak and oak veneer surfaces with powder-coated steel legs
Why we love it: It is modern, practical and looks good. This large dining table can be paired with dining chairs, a large dining bench, or both, allowing for a relaxed and bougie dining environment.
Maltby Mid Century Extendable Dining Table
Dimensions: W: 150-190 cm D: 88 cm H: 75 cm Structure: acacia wood
Why we love it: Swoon is great at preserving timeless, reasonably priced, ethically sourced furniture, and this acacia wood table is no exception.
Although inspired by a mid-century aesthetic, it will fit in almost any dining room with its delicate design. Best of all, it’s expandable from 6 to 8 seats, so you can easily host a dinner party if needed.
Habitat Clifton Oak Extendable Table and 4 Black Chairs
Dimensions:H75.3, W80, L65.8cm. Structure: Real wood veneer table with real wood veneer legs.
Why we love it: Extensible, comfortable, durable and economical. There is little to dislike about this Habitat for Argos table and chair set. (Well, it does require assembly, but that’s not too hard.)
Noguchi dining table
Dimensions: 72.5 cm (h) x 121 cm (diameter) Frame: black lacquered cast iron base with chromed steel wire details
Why we love it: Because it looks awesome. The Conran Shop is a leading designer furniture firm, and this table is a prime example.
Designed by Isamu Noguchi for the house of A. Conger Goodyear (president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York) it is elegant and functional. His goal is, in Noguchi’s conception, to blur the lines between sculpture and furniture design.
The round table means it is ideal for smaller spaces and allows multiple people to sit comfortably in the same space.
Boone 4 Seater Dining Table and 4 Chair Set, Concrete Resin Top
Dimensions: Height (cm) 76 x Width (cm) 160 x Depth (cm) 80 Structure: Concrete Resin Top
Why we love it: The designs made often look considerably more expensive than they really are, and this board game is no exception. Stylish, it will look great in your dining room, with a sleek, minimalist feel. It’s easy to put together, but be careful: it’s a heavy table, so you’ll need help getting it into place.
Edelweiss Walnut and Brass Dining Table and Bench Set
Dimensions: Height (cm) 75 x Width (cm) x151 x Depth (cm) 81 Structure: Engineered wood, oak veneer
Why we love it: Modern, elegant and perfect for family life. The table itself is a slim, smooth construction with a beautiful grain, while the slim legs and brass accents add visual interest and style.
Light-colored woods mean it won’t feel oppressive, especially if you live in a darker home. This is a spacious, well-constructed, and elegant table at a fair price.
Fía Dining Table
Dimensions: 76cm x 220cm x 90cm Structure: Natural Mango Wood
Why we love it: Nkuku uses reclaimed or sustainably sourced wood to create furniture that is natural looking and eco-friendly. They often use mango wood, which is harvested after mango trees stop bearing fruit, to ensure that all aspects of the tree are used.
This table is typical of Nkuku’s design: a minimalist, rustic look, with the natural wood laid over an industrial iron ‘a’ frame.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.