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  • Writer's pictureTri City Furniture, Auburn

How Big of a Dining Room Table Do I Need?

We call this the eating season, as we head into fall. We start to prepare for several holidays, and those always involve family, friends and food! How do you know if you have enough seats for your together times? How do you know if your guests will have enough elbow room with the setup that you have? Let Kathy from Tri City Furniture help you layout your room and the options you may have when talking about tables.

Having enough room for guests is our subject today! How do we know how large of a dining or kitchen table to put into our space?

Usually, the size is determined by the amount of space that your room has. You may want a smaller table for day to day, but then want to be able to add extensions so that the table can be larger when you need to seat more guests. Tables come in many different configurations and sizes.

Maybe you have a round table. Add leaves to the table to make it oval. Some tables had leaves that extend the table width that are store inside the table, some are "folded" as shown in the photo above called a butterfly leaf. These unfold and fall into the locking system of the table. Many people think they are easier to lift and maneuver, because they have a "glide" mechanism with hooked to the table. Other leaf styles may need to be stored in another location.

Some Pros to a round table are that they are usually smaller. Therefore they save some space in your home. If you are limited on space in the room, a round to oval table may work great. They feel more intimate with family and friends, because you normally are a little closer together.

The Cons and down side to a round table is limited space. You do have less surface area and no corners, so maybe someone will not have their full elbow space. Depending on the size of your round table, you may be really close to the family style dishes or you may be very far away from them. If could be hard to pass the ketchup directly across the table. Same may be said through for rectangle table ends as well. Another negative to a round table is that you also can not normally store more than one leaf inside the table. The leaves will have to be stored elsewhere until needed due to it's small scale.

If you start with a square table shape and add a leave or two or three, normally they make the table into a long rectangle. This shape may give you more seating area, therefore it is normally a good choice for those who like to host parties.

Some more Pros to a rectangle table are, they normally have a "proper" end. Some people call it the Thrown, where the King would sit. Others call it the captain chairs. Some homes enjoy having these "assigned" seats as a place of honor. Another bonus us that the table normally can house the leaves that go inside it to extend it. The leaves would store inside under the table, vs being in another room or under the bed. Even though the table can grown and seat a lot of people, it can also be pushed up against a wall to allow more walking space. It can also be setup within a room and not be directly centered under a ceiling light if needed.

Some Cons to a rectangle table is that a rectangle or a square has corners, and maybe if you have young children in the home, that could be more dangerous than a round top table. Rectangle tables are sometimes harder to play games on if there is not enough players. If you are playing a card game with 4 people, you may have to stretch to reach your partner.

So, let's try to figure the size of table I need to seat 8 people on a rectangle table


For personal space, each person needs about17"- 24” per Chair/ person to sit comfortably.

If you want to seat 10 people, with only one seat on the ends of the table (captain chair) then the math would look like this....

2 people (one on each end) removed from equation, leaving us to place 8 people for dinner. 8people divided by two sides of the table leaves us 4 people per width side. Now, we need about 24' per person, so you would need a total of 24"inches x4people= 96" inches /divided by 12"

= an 8 ft table. Most people do a 42" depth, making the table 42" x 96. This allows for plate space. I normally refure to this as "family style" eating instead of "buffet style". The serving plates stay on the table during the meal incase someone want's seconds. In buffet style eating, you have to leave the table to go refill your plate. If you change the table depth to 32" x 96" then you are probably looking at a buffet style meal. Again, all of this math is being right now, without talking about leaves. This 42"x 96" (almost 4'feet x 8'feet) table would be without the adding any extension leaves.

So, now the question is, will this table size, fit into my dining room space?

Let's continue the math! My elementary teachers who be so proud of us....

We know the table size, but when I sit at the table, my body and chair extends about 24" away from the table. Therefore we need to add 2' feet more to our table size, making it close to 6' x 10'. Then, (almost done....) you need to remember to add space for movement around the table. You should allow 24”-36” for walking round the table when people are seated. Therefore it brings the room space needed for this table to be about 9'x13 feet. If your room is smaller, you need to adjust! If you have more space, you could use a larger table or add more leaves to your table to extend the width. Also remember to take account of any cabinets or shelves in the room.

Cabinets are typically 18”-20” in depth. Keep in mind, if there is a cabinet, the whole table and chairs must shift over those many inches!

It is also important to know if your ceiling light is in the center of the room or has the builder mover it over the 18” to allow for that accent piece?

Most leaves are around 12" wide, therefore you could probably get about 2 more people at the table per leaf added.

If you want to start from your room size, and work into the table, remove about 5feet from both directions in your room measurements. This tells us who large the table can be.

If the room is 10"x16", then your table can be 5'x 11' foot- a common table size here would be 48"x 77" allowing for 3 leaves to fit inside the table. This setting could give you 13 seats for guests.

If you wanted to have a round table , the math is a little different.

If your diameter (width of the circle/ from the edge you sit at, to the edge directly across from you) is 60" inches, multiply that by 3.14 (pi) to get your total inches of seat space. Now divide that by 24", just as we did on the rectangle table.

60x 3.14= 188.4 / 24= 7.85 chairs pushed up to the table. Maybe you could get 8 at your house, maybe only 7....but somewhere around there is your total number of guests.

Does your room have space for a 60"?

60 inches = 5 feet. Plus the 5feet needed for chair and movement, your room must be at least a 10'x 10' space. If the room is a 10' x 16' as we look at before, then you could possibly add 3 to 4 more leaves to make the table oval and possibly have seating for 13 people as well.

Dining chairs do come in many sizes, small, medium, large and even extra large…..but again the size that fits the space is important, as well as the size that fits the guest is also important. Armless chairs will take up less space!

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