Wide dining tables seem awkward in small spaces, yet a narrow table won't provide enough room for table settings. In older homes with petite rooms, glass tabletops work well; by exposing more floor space, glass makes a room appear larger. Today's builders construct dining rooms to accommodate most standard tables. If you follow the guidelines that professional decorators use, your table will appear proportionate to the room.
Standard width and height
Dining tables generally measure 90 to 105 cm (36 to 42 inches) wide. This width allows adequate space for dinnerware as well as centrepieces, trivets and serving plates down the centre. The length depends on whether you have a table leaf in place, so no standard length exists. The average dining table is 72.5 to 80 cm (29 to 32 inches) tall. Furniture makers have found that the standard dimensions work well in most modern homes. Narrow tables less than 75 cm (30 inches) wide do not provide adequate space for dinnerware, and tables over 105 cm (42 inches) wide inhibit free conversation across the width.
Choose the right length
Because you don't want guests and family members crowded around the table, allow 50 to 60 cm (20 to 24 inches) of elbow room for each diner. Rectangular tables that measure 1.5 to 1.8 m (60 to 72 inches) long will seat six people. To seat eight diners, you'll need an 2.1 m (84 inch) table. Square tables seat only four people comfortably, but round tables over 1.2 m (48 inches) can seat six guests.
Consider the ideal shape
If you throw small dinner parties often, use a round table, as the shape allows guests to chat with everyone better than a long table. The round configuration uses space more efficiently and adds curves to a boxy room, although the removable leaf on long tables accommodates small and large parties alike. No matter which shape you select, keep in mind that table legs use up space; tables on pedestals provide more leg room.
Designers typically allow 1/65 m (5.5 feet) from the edge of the table to the nearest wall. For example, a 90 cm by 1.5 m (3 by 5 foot) table works well in a dining room that measures 4.2 by 4.8 m (14 by 16 feet). The extra space creates a passageway and provides enough room for chairs.
Ideally, the chandelier and area rug will be in scale with the dining room table. If you already have the lighting and rug in place, take measurements to determine which table dimensions will balance their volume. The rug should be at least 1.2 m (4 feet) wider and longer than the table without touching the skirting boards. The table should be at least 30 cm (12 inches) wider than the chandelier to account for headroom when guests get up from the table.