Find The Right Dining Table With Help Of This Guide

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The greatest dining table for you will be one that matches your budget, is well-made, suits your space, and has a style you’ll enjoy for many years. When selecting a decent one, there are a few key elements to consider.

First and foremost, avoid following fashion trends, according to Christophe Pourny, a professional furniture restorer and author of “The Furniture Bible,” who believes that a decent table should last at least five to ten years. “If you acquire something too bizarre, with too many strange details, you might wake up one day wondering what you were thinking,” he warned. “Keep it simple and strong,” says the designer.

Stability and craftsmanship are vital to look for while checking tables in furniture stores, along with price and a timeless appearance. Consider how it feels to sit at one of those tables, whether it will be comfortable for long amounts of time, and look for evidence of wear on floor models. Look for nicks and scrapes on the tables that could suggest how well they would hold up to heavy use at home. If you’re looking for specific recommendations, Wirecutter, a product review site run by the New York Times, has a nice sub-$1000 dining table guide here.

The first requirement is that your dining room sets must match your eating environment! A dining table, on the other hand, is a deceptively huge piece of furniture, and you must allow for space around it as well.

“In addition to the table’s footprint, you’ll need three feet of breathing room on both sides — and more is better — to comfortably sit in a chair and move around the space,” said Lucy Harris, a New York-based interior designer. Start by measuring the length and width of the area you can allocate to the dining table, whether it’s part of a multiuse space or a distinct dining room. To acquire a target dining table length and width, subtract around six feet from those two measures.

After that, consider how you’ll use the table. “Assume that each seat at the table requires 22 to 24 inches of table space, and that larger-scale chairs will demand much more,” said Max Dyer, a furniture industry veteran and current vice president of casegoods at La-Z-Boy Industries.

As a long-time apartment resident, I’ve discovered that a piece of furniture’s “visual weight” has a significant impact on how big it feels in a space. It may technically fit, but if it’s a dark or thick piece or if it’s too close to other furniture, it’ll appear enormous.

Take the time to block out the length and width of a larger piece of furniture on the floor (I prefer to use painter’s tape), as well as the height of the table. I normally use a tape measure to measure my tape corners, then try to fill in the space with furniture of a comparable size (like a couple of chairs) and take a step back to see how it feels. It’s also helpful if you have a friend stand by with the tape measure while you look about.

If you’re short on room, think about adding leaves to the table so it can be extended. “These allow you to adapt the table for various entertainment demands and party sizes,” said Meredith Mahoney, Birch Lane’s creator and design director.

Mr. Pourny cautioned against having too many mechanisms or leaves attached to or buried within the table (versus stand-alone leaves). “If you buy things that are overly sophisticated, you’re just increasing the chances of anything failing,” he explained.

Before deciding on a shape, think about your requirements.

Because square and rectangular tables are the most common, you’ll have the most options in terms of styles, sizes, and expandable possibilities. A round or oval table, on the other hand, can allow you a little more room to move around because it eliminates the corners while still providing a large surface area. “The oval might be the greatest solution for tighter, rectangular spaces,” Mr. Dyer explained.

“Because there is no head of the table, round or oval tables can be ideal for gatherings and conversation,” Ms. Harris explained. When it comes to seating, you’re just restricted by the table’s perimeter — though you may lose a little space for serving pieces once all of your place settings are in place at a circular or oval table.

Keep an eye on the table’s supports.

The table’s foundation — usually legs, a pedestal, or a trestle — can affect the number of people who can sit at it. “You just want to make sure the supports aren’t invading the leg area,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, the American Home Furnishings Alliance’s vice president of public relations and marketing. Sit at a table to see if your legs strike the table’s legs when you see it in person. When you scoot all the way in, see whether you have enough room for your knees and if you can cross your legs below the table. The apron — the frame that supports the tabletop — can limit your maneuvering space.

Pay attention to the leg breadth and where the legs are located if you want to be more flexible with your guests. “In general, a table with thinner legs or legs at the corners makes it easier to fit an extra chair in,” Ms. Harris explained. And, as Mr. Dyer pointed out, “a leg table’s ability to extend without bowing in the middle is often limited.”

You have more versatility with a pedestal or trestle table when it comes to seating more people. “The best choice for squeezing people in is a center base,” Ms. Harris added. Mr. Pourny, on the other hand, warned us that larger round pedestal-style tables can be less stable than those with four legs.

Trestle tables provide flexibility along the table’s sides while limiting space at the ends. Make sure there’s enough room between the table’s edge and the trestle supports for your knees by measuring the distance between them.

Choose the right materials for your table based on your personal taste.

It can be tough to choose the right material for your dining table. To choosing the perfect one, you must consider affordability, ease of care, and your personal style, and a table that doesn’t suit any of those criteria could result in a purchase you later regret. Here are the most frequent materials and things to think about when using them:

Wood: Solid wood is a timeless material that is both sturdy and easy to maintain. Popular, less expensive alternatives include pine, acacia, mango, and teak. “The most popular is solid wood, but it’s also the most expensive,” Ms. Hirschhaut explained. Solid wood tables are becoming more affordable, with Ikea offering an unfinished solid pine table for $69, although larger tables from other merchants can cost $1,000 or more. Heat and humidity cause wood to expand and shrink, resulting in scratches and wear. However, wood is quite straightforward to repair.

Veneer/Wood-Look: Wood veneer is a less expensive option than actual wood. A thin veneer of solid wood (or material made to look like wood) is attached to a plywood or other wood core in this project. Look for tables with clearly designated core inside, such as kiln-dried hardwood, to identify good veneer. Looking below the table at the store is one technique to spot cheaper veneers. “The producer is lowering costs if only the outside is finished, but the underneath appears like a different material,” Mr. Dyer remarked.

“Make sure the particleboard says it’s CARB compliant,” which means it’s passed emissions tests, according to Thomas Russell, senior editor of the industry publication Furniture Today. And, as Mr. Dyer points out, you can always ask the seller what the table is made of; if they are unsure, that’s a red flag. For a less expensive veneer, you should expect to pay under $500, but higher-end veneers can cost thousands of dollars.

Stone and Stone-Look Tabletops: Marble, quartz composite, and cast stone are all options for stone tabletops (like cement). Stone is long-lasting, although it is porous and rapidly absorbs stains. “Depending on how it’s produced,” Ms. Hirschhaut explained, “it can chip or crack,” and if that happens, it can be difficult or impossible to fix. They can be fairly heavy as well. Stone can range in price from around $500 for cement-topped pieces to thousands of dollars for marble-topped pieces.

Glass tabletops come in clear, frosted, and coloured varieties. They’re affordable and “may provide a sense of spaciousness and openness,” according to Ms. Hirschhaut. Although glass is impervious to moisture, heat can cause it to chip, scrape, or break. It also displays each and every fingerprint. If you’re not too clumsy, a nice glass table top can last decades, but if you’re prone to chipping the corners or scratching the surface, it will start to look terrible quickly. Large glass-topped tables are available for under $750.

Metal is more commonly used for table bases than tops, and includes stainless steel, brass, zinc, and lacquered or painted variants of these metals. “Metal is long-lasting and difficult to harm,” Ms. Hirschhaut explained. However, due of the increased sheen, it displays every fingerprint and may necessitate the use of specific cleaning products. Painted metals can also be difficult to repair. These can be less expensive than wood tables, though all-metal dining tables, aside from utility tables, are uncommon.

Plastic and laminates are a low-cost solution that can be molded into a shape or attached to plywood or another core. “They can endure a long time,” Ms. Harris noted, “but they aren’t the best quality material.” These materials are stain-resistant and low-maintenance, yet they are typically considered as cheap.

Make sure the construction is solid and dependable.

A decent dining table will be solid and well-made, with a finish that can survive a lot of use while still looking beautiful. “Good materials are important, but a table is only as good as the workmanship,” Mr. Dyer explained. The joinery is the word used in the industry to describe the connections between the base and the tabletop; the more strong these connections are, the longer the table will endure.

Look underneath the store’s floor sample: Wood that has been attached directly to wood is extremely sturdy; nevertheless, too many attachments and hooks can damage the structure. In general, keeping things simple is preferable. “Look at the connecting places where the legs meet the table tops and at the corners,” Ms. Harris said. “If the parts are starting to split, you see gaps at the corners, or it’s unsteady when you move it, it’s not well constructed.” Also, be wary of tables that are so cheap that they can only be held together with staples and glue.

A note about your new table’s chairs: If you don’t already have dining chairs, the most important thing is to make sure the new ones fit at the table. “People used to always buy tables and chairs as a set, but that isn’t as common today,” Ms. Harris observed. Mr. Russell recommends buying as a set if you’re starting from scratch and shopping online, but if you’re shopping in-store, you can check out several floor models. Mr. Pourny urged that people feel free to mix and match. He also suggests buying extra chairs and storing them in other rooms when you aren’t using them at the table to save space in a compact space.

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