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How to Choose a Dining Table Set for Your Home: Part I

Holiday Dining with Walker Furniture

For many of us, the phrase “fine dining,” brings to mind images of a trendy restaurant that is as elegant and sumptuous as its designer menu. Exotic aromas and flavors conjured in the kitchen of a genial celebrity chef, top-notch service, stunning presentation of the specialties of the house and often, a pricey reckoning at the end of the meal often make for a memorable evening.

Menu, of course, is important. But ambiance—the character and atmosphere of the dining room itself and the gracious attitude of the people who prepare and serve the food—is the stage on which any meal becomes a memorable “fine dining” experience.

Walker Furniture is here to tell you that five-star dining is not the exclusive province of an upscale restaurant. With a little help from us and the specialty of your house in the oven, you can create a “fine dining” experience in your home around your dining table.

Here’s how!

Ambiance begins long before the diners sit down at your table or even before you begin to prepare your favorite dish. Gathering family and friends to “break bread” is a gesture of friendship, an opportunity to come together and express mutual affection and interest in each others lives, to create harmony and solidarity—especially in today’s fast-paced, grab-a-burrito-and-a-designer-coffee-on-the-run world.

Though “breaking bread” is not always possible on a daily basis, setting the intention to share a meal in this manner begins first in your mind, and then by choosing dining room furniture that makes sitting at your dining table the place for a legacy of “fine dining” experiences to unfold.

Here are a few simple general guidelines to help you make that choice

  • Begin by measuring the length and width of your dining area.
  • Subtract 6 feet from both the length and the width of the room measurement. This allows for a 3-foot clearance around the entire table; enough space for anyone to walk behind the dining chairs while others are seated or to open a door on a nearby cabinet or serving cart.
  • The resulting measurement is the maximum recommended size for your dining table. For example, if you have a 10-foot x 12-foot dining space, the maximum size of your dining room table would be 4-feet x 6-feet.
  • To create balance and harmony in your dining area, choose a dining table that fits the size of your dining area and enhances the shape of your room.

Bartole Five-Piece Dining Set

Choosing the shape of your table

The number of people who regularly gather around your table is another important factor in deciding what shape table works best in your dining room. Each diner needs 24" of length and at least 12" of width to spread out and eat comfortably at the table; large-scale chairs or swivel chairs require more space.

Round or square tables seat everyone the same distance apart and are great for small spaces. Rectangular tables work well in long, narrow spaces, and can help define and divide combination living and dining room spaces. Oval tables provide more space in rooms with tight corners.

Pedestal and trestle tables sit more people than tables with end legs. Tables with thin legs or legs positioned directly at the corners of a table, make it easier to squeeze in an extra chair.

Although you may only need seating for four at family mealtimes, if you have frequent visitors, you may do better in a small space with a rectangular table with four chairs (one on both ends, two on one side) and a bench under one side than with a round table.

If you work at your dining table and need room for your laptop and files or your kids do homework at the table, this can also influence the size and shape of your table. If you’re not sure what shape table works best in your room, block out the length and width of your table space on the floor with masking tape to help you picture your options.

Denver Seven-Piece Dining Set

Choosing the style of your table

Casual? Contemporary? Rustic? Transitional?

Choosing the style of dining table (or any piece of furniture) has gotten a lot easier in the past few years with the birth of the “Artisan chic” trend in home decorating. This eclectic look combines handcrafted accents, folk art pieces, elements from different cultures and eras, family treasures, trinkets and memorabilia that hold a special meaning to you.

Artisan chic pieces are selected based on personal taste: you choose what is authentic and original and interesting to you. Rooms are unified by similar colors, fabrics, and items that convey your unique “signature” with a sense of artistry and design rather than by a specific style of furniture. This eliminates concern as to whether your latest acquisition “goes with” the other pieces you have in your home.

If artisan chic is not your cup of tea, your basic style may be:

  • Traditional if you prefer rich, dark wood finishes, carved details and fabrics such as chintz, jacquard, damask and brocade.
  • Contemporary if you prefer clean, sleek lines, little or no ornamentation and leather and microfiber, metal and glass. (AKA “urban,’ “retro,” “art deco,” and “mid-century modern.”) Walker’s Barotle Five-piece Dining Set with its 48” round marble table top, metal base and leatherette bucket chairs are a great example of contemporary styling.
  • Transitional combines elements from both traditional and contemporary styles. If you like simple, sophisticated lines somewhat softened, updated classics, soft finishes and upholstered fabrics such as ultrasuede, corduroy and chenille in neutral colors.
  • Rustic if you like natural fibers and finishes that are light, weathered or painted, and vintage fabrics, checks, calicoes and stripes. Our Denver Seven-Piece Dining Set is tres rustic! Note that the middle crossbar on the legs of the chairs allows the chairs to slide comfortably around the trestle base of this 78” table. (This table extends to 98” with its leaf.)

Choosing chairs for your table

Most dining tables are 30" high, and most chair seats are 17"–19" high. Your chairs—be they stationary, swivel, upholstered or wood—should leave at least 12" from the tabletop to the top of the chair seat so you have plenty of room for knees under the table.

Feel free to mix and match the chairs you choose, artisan chic-style. Use color and upholstery fabric to harmonize complement the individual pieces. If you need to save space in your dining area, think about buying extra chairs you can use in other rooms in your home until you need them at the table.

If you have a favorite recipe that makes for a “fine dining experience” in your home, please post it on your Facebook page and tag Walker furniture. Let us “break bread” together.

Read Part II: