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How Much Space to Leave Around a Table & Chairs?

Dining rooms often look good but function poorly. The root of this problem is that the furniture doesn't properly fit the amount of space. Some people think that if you can walk past the table with the chairs tucked in, this means your table fits in the space. Actually, this usually means you have half the space necessary for comfortable dining. Crowding guests between a wall and the table can make a dinner party feel like a trap that people want to escape. The solution is to select the right size of table for the room.

Room Measurements

Measure the dimensions of your room. If your room is nearly square, the best table shape for the room is a round or square table. If your room is rectangular, the best table shape is rectangle or oval. The wheelchair standard from any table edge to the closest furniture or wall is 54 inches. This standard is a good measure to consider because it allows a guest to push back her chair, stand up and walk past other pushed-back chairs. Minimum distance should not be less than 44 inches, as this allows a seated guest to take up only 18 inches of space, leaving room for another to pass behind without a side-shuffle or bumping.

Table Sizes

A average table size that will allow for a 12-inch-deep place setting and a centre space for decor and serving platters is 42 inches wide. Each place setting or guest is calculated at 23 to 24 inches wide. This will allow you to calculate whether an average-size table will fit into your dining room. Smaller tables will crowd both the serving pieces and the guests, but such an arrangement may be necessary in smaller rooms.

Dining Room Width

The minimum dining room width for an average-size dining room table of 42 inches wide is 11 feet. This is with no additional furniture along either side of the table. Many newer homes have dining rooms smaller than 11 feet in width; for such a room, a 32-inch table has become standard. This size of table leaves 8 to 10 inches between facing place settings. This is too small for some serving platters. The minimum room width for a 32-inch table is 8 feet.

Dining Room Length

Calculate the correct length of your table by measuring your room length. For every 12 inches in room length over 8 feet, add 3½ inches to 32 inches. Example: If your room is 11 feet long, that is 3 feet over the 8-foot start point. So 32 + 3½ + 3½ + 3½ equals 42½ inches long. Avoid the temptation to put a sideboard, service table or any type of furniture behind the position of any chair; there just isn't room.

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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.