Does your dining room need a makeover?

When furnishing a dining room today, you have more options than ever before. Bench seating, mismatched chairs, fold-out tables and other new trends offer infinite choices, but how do you create your dream set out of the abundance of inventory? If new dining furniture is in your future, or if you just want a better idea of how a dining room should be arranged, read on through this list of tips.

Measure the room

The dimensions of the room are key to understanding how to best use your available space. Using a measuring tape or yardstick, measure the length and width of the area. Subtract six feet from the numbers to obtain an idea of how large your table might be. If you already have a table, subtract its dimensions from the room’s and you’ll have an idea of how many chairs to include.

Get space-savvy

Professional interior designers advise allowing about three feet of space for each chair, but it’s acceptable to narrow things down for special occasions. As you’re browsing for chairs, take note of their dimensions — some chairs, such as those with arms or mid-century designs with hairpin legs, are much wider than others. If you’re short on space, consider armless chairs, settees, or a bench that can slide underneath the tabletop when not in use. As a standard guide, keep the following measurements in mind. You should allow:

  • Three feet of space from the table to the wall on all sides
  • Seven inches of distance from each chair to the end of table on each side of the chair (the table length will vary according to chair width)
  • One foot from the chair seat to table top

Assess your dining style

As you’re looking for pieces and thinking about how to style the room, consider developing a wishlist to help you focus while you shop. You might want a table that can double as a homework space for the kids, for example. Or maybe you’re looking for the durability and brightness that a marble tabletop can provide. If you live in a hot climate, you might be open to lightweight materials like rattan or bamboo instead of the more traditional wood. Do you like tall pub-style seating, or do you prefer a table of standard height? Are you realistic enough to admit that the table will be cluttered with books and mail most of the time, only to be swept clean for the occasional weekend meal? Also consider how your needs change over the course of a year. A family Thanksgiving dinner might require a much larger table than usual, so you might want to consider tables with a drop-leaf or extenders. Consider this archivist dining table from Hooker Furniture; it comes with two eighteen-inch leaves or this weathered pine dining table with a twenty-eight inch butterfly leaf.

Choose the right shape

Assessing your dining style can help you visualize how various table shapes — square, round, rectangular, or oval — will look and function in the room. Each shape comes with advantages and disadvantages: A circular table creates a great sense of inclusion as guests gather round, but if you enjoy creating “tablescapes” with placemats, napkins, and other objects of decor, you might feel limited by a circle shape that prohibits square linens. A long rectangular table is more suited to traditionally designed placemats, napkins, and other decor, and it’s also easier to squeeze a few extra guests in at the corners. A square table can fit nicely in a kitchen alcove or below a window, but many square tables can only fit in four chairs. An oval table is classic and traditional, but it may look awkward in a square room or in an open-concept kitchen. Summing up your attitude toward various shapes will help you narrow the search.

Find your solution

For any given dining space, there are likely many dining table and chair configurations to choose from. You can expand your choices by considering tables that include fold-down panels or leafs that can drop in when you need more room. Develop a plan for daily use — perhaps you’ll have a square table with four comfortable chairs with arms — and develop a second plan for entertaining: The same square table becomes a rectangle with the addition of two leafs. You can add four armless chairs to complement those with arms and still have plenty of room for guests to move around and enjoy themselves. Also don’t forget that picnic-bench seating can be a fun way to bring more people to the table. You can store the bench in a bedroom or near a staircase when it’s not in use, bringing it out when the leafs go in. In a similar vein is the idea of using a settee or loveseat on one side of the table. This option is chic and trendy but also a comfortable and cozy way to bring texture and color into the space.


Once you have your dining room game plan in place, it’s time for serious shopping. Our catalog is loaded with dining tables of all shapes and sizes and chairs to complement a variety of decor themes and styles. You’ll find drop-leaf tables, folding tables, and smaller tables for kitchens and apartments. Our catalog include chairs for mixing and matching, so search for your favorite upholstery styles, wood finishes, and ergonomic features like swivel bases and armrests. Even though you’ll likely arrive to a long list of favorites, we hope you’ll find your perfect solution sooner rather than later. Here’s to many happy hours in your new and perfected dining room!

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