For many, there isn’t a place held so sacred or the source of so many memories as the dining room table. In the busyness of our lives, it is the place where time seems to slow down as the world around us continues to move at the ever-rapid pace. At times, our dining room table becomes more of another storage space, a horizontal plane where everything and anything is dropped off. At others, it is the craft table; sprinkled with the glitter that will never (no matter how hard we try) get off. Whatever the function, finding a dining room table can seem a daunting task; I compiled a few things (and suggestions) to take in account when shopping for the perfect piece.
The first rule to finding a table….. make sure it fits the room!! This might seem obvious, almost condescending to say, but so many times I have seen a table placed in a room way too big or way too small. Like Goldilocks in search of the perfect bed you need one that is just right. You want to make sure that there is enough space to walk around the table, but not too much that you get lost walking to your seat! As a rule, you want to ensure at least 3 feet on all sides.
Next, envision what your table will be used for. Maybe it will be the token place for special dinners, maybe it will second as an artist drawing board, or maybe it will be for the nightly times where the whole family gathers to reminisce of the day’s happenings. Even if you feel that you want your table to be used for social events, having an extremely large one may not be the right way to go (images of Michael Keaton’s table in Batman quickly come to mind). The use of leaves and other table features can help alleviate the necessity to “resize” pending on your needs.
The shape of your table is also an area of consideration. Commonly, square and rectangular are used. While matching the style of your room is of utmost importance, oval is also a formidable option. Without the bulky corners, the smooth edges of a round and oval table give you the ability to use every inch of the edge, allowing for more guests. Like King Arthur’s iconic sitting, the round table means there is not a “head” that everyone is equal and allows a more “party” mood.
Another important feature is the base of the table; are you leaning towards a trestle, a pedestal or the traditional four legs? As important as testing the comfort of the chairs, ensuring they “work” with your table is; you don’t want your legs hitting any testy frames. While legs on the table can hinder moving an extra chair in for a guest, trestles and pedestals allow a bit more flexibility. Likewise, if you are planning on using leaves to extend the table, the traditional four legs may cause a problem; too much extension can cause bowing in the middle.
Another characteristic with a wide range of variety is the material of the table. Try not to get stuck with the trend of the day (unless you are alright with constantly updating). It is important to make sure that the material you choose matches your intend use, budget, and style. The most common is wood. A quick search on Craigslist shows the durability and longevity of wood tables; in the past the table typically being passed down from generation to generation. Wood tables are typically the easiest to repair. Likewise, if your style changes, you can try out your refinishing skills by sanding it down and refinishing to match your needs. Keep in mind that wood can be a bit changeable pending weather; it can expand and contract based on the given external factors. Veener/Wood look are a good compatible option. These have the look of the wood but without the fickleness of weather related issues. Stone is a modern option. While you have to be mindful of causing breaks or chips and the porous nature that can absorb stains, it is a long lasting option. Make sure you equip the help of your gym buddies though…. These tables are extremely heavy.
Glass is another option. Not only a source of entertainment to torture your pets (don’t report me to PETA) but it can give the breezy, open feel…. Making the space seem even larger. This option allows for easy cleanup. Like the stone option, if you are clumsy then you need to be weary of breakage and chips. If breakage and chips is a concern, metal tables might be just the right alternative for you. These are pretty durable and can give your location an industrial vibe. Like the fingerprints all over your fridge, they too will easily find their way to your high-gloss table. Lastly, plastic and laminates are another option. While not necessarily talking about the old six foot table you pull out for the backyard BBQ, this option many times is perceived as cheap. They do tend to last long and are easy to upkeep.
No matter the table you choose, I am sure that it will bring with it the laughter, love and warmth that you can only find gathering around the table with friends.