The Perfect Modern Dining Table For Your Home
The time has come: you need a perfect modern dining table for your home. The problem? This may be a first. People go years, in some cases a whole lifetime if they are lucky enough to inherit one, without needing to replace this piece of furniture.
What do you need to think about? Are there enough modern dining table designs? What are the options? What are the pitfalls?
There is a lot to think about, but at Olson and Baker, we have the full range of options ranging from the Carl Hansen Extendable Dining Table to the Case Furniture Cross Fixed Table and are happy to share a bit of advice.
Plan Ahead for Your Perfect Modern Dining Table
If the Covid years have taught us anything, it is never to take anything for granted. A short time ago, the idea that the perfect modern dining table might also have to double up as a workspace was unthinkable for most. Now everybody who has had to work from home has had a taste of the multitasking dining table. Choose carefully, it is a decision you are going to have to live with for a long time.
Even when everything is back to normal, home working looks as though it is here to stay. If that happens, a dining table like the Case Furniture Dulwich Extendable Table will also face a future as auxiliary office space, the homework hub for the kids or a Zoom meeting background. You may need it for all that plus all the traditional uses.
The size and shape of the room plus the other furniture in it makes a lot of the big decisions for you, but there are some choices. Expandable or fixed size? Four sided or rounded? Is it up against a wall or free standing in the middle of the room?
The Perfect Modern Dining Table is Still a Place to Meet and Eat
Even without the post-covid multifunction role, the perfect modern dining table like the Ethnicraft Box Dining Table is a focal point in the home. You may be one of those families that eats together every day, or it may only happen at Christmas. It really doesn’t matter. The dining table is where it all happens, where people gather, where the family is all in the same place at the same time. It is where memories are made, and bonds are strengthened.
If you do invite people in, it is also where a lot of the entertainment will happen. Just look at the popularity of television programmes like Come Dine With Me and it is easy to understand the importance of eating together as a social lubricant.
Size Matters for the Perfect Modern Dining Table
How big? That is the first dilemma. Begin by taking out the measuring tape and jotting down exactly how much functional room you have to work with. Remember, there may be extra space you could liberate. A spot occupied by plant, an occasional table or a chair might be cleared to create some extra capacity.
On the other hand, there may be areas that look like empty space but still can’t be used. The zone around a door, for example. Or the area in front of a dresser or cupboard – since you may need access to those storage areas while people are at the table.
You will also need a reasonable grasp of how many people you need to sit. This is probably going to result in two figures, the number using it every day and also the maximum number the table may be called on to seat. In general, allow at least 60cm (24 inches) per person. That’s a minimum for any kind of comfort and ease, but 75cm (30 inches) would be even better.
If you do the arithmetic, for a rectangular table that means, 180cm (72 inches) seats three along each side – six in total – 300cm (120 inches) takes it up to five per side – 10 in total. If you like, you can sacrifice one person on each side and sit them at the head and foot of the table. For a round table, like the Ethnicraft Circle Dining Table, the same sums tell you a 120cm (48 inches) diameter gives you space for four, 180cm (72 inches) takes it up to eight.
Space and Chairs
The size of chairs you will be using is also a consideration. You can get skinny ones that don’t up much room but may be less robust and less comfortable. Bigger, stronger, better padded chairs are better for relaxing on but are also bulkier.
Make sure you have enough space to make sure people don’t feel cramped and can get in and out easily. As a rule of thumb, you need at least 100 to 120cm (39 to 47 inches) between the table and any walls or other furniture. That should give most people 40 to 60cm (16 to 24 inches) of space behind them once seated. If the table is near a wall, you may need a bit of extra space on that side so that those in the middle don’t feel trapped.
You also need to measure your chairs for width in order to see how many you can fit round the table. Height is also an important consideration if people are to feel comfortable using the table. Again, there is a rule of thumb – 30cm (12 inches) between the seat of the chair and the top of the table, but a centimetre or two either way is not a problem. If you can, it is worth trying out the table-chair combination at a showroom.
The advantage of the extendable table is easy to understand. Sometimes all you need is a small space for a quick bite to eat or to plonk a laptop on while you catch up with some work. Other times you may have guests round. Then again you may need space to spread papers around for a big project, whether it is work-related or for a school project.
You may be able to get the best of both worlds with something like the Ethnicraft Bok Extendable Dining Table. It shrinks to a manageable size for day-to-day use but opens out when you need that bit of extra space. If you prefer a round table, have a look at the Carl Hansen Extendable Dining Table.
Even here, the amount of space available and the shape of the room are important. There is no point in buying a table that opens out to be bigger than is practical for the space available. A round dining table may leave the corners of the room free for other uses but remember it will turn into an oval when you put the expansion pieces in.
Incidentally, when it does arrive, pay attention to which way round you put it in. Make sure it has space to expand into an empty part of the room. Particularly if the basic table is square or circular, it is easy to forget to plan ahead for the bigger option. To shift it after all the rest of the furniture is in place can be a complete pain.
This is where it all gets personal. No two people ever have identical ideas on what they are looking for when choosing their perfect modern dining table. There are some broad principles to take into account, though.
The first decision to make is what material you want. There are a variety of artificial options on the market, but they come with a number of problems. They are unlikely to look that special or last well.
Most quality dining tables are made from wood. Beech, oak, walnut and teak all feature in different designs and fit different colour schemes. You also need to decide on the finish. Styles include lacquer, oil or a soaped finish, each coming with slightly different strengths.
They won’t be maintenance-free but don’t take much looking after. As long as you protect them from hot pans or dishes and restrict spillages, all they need is a wipe-down with a damp cloth and natural soap followed by a thorough drying with a dry cloth.
Minor damage can usually be repaired, but there is an argument for just leaving it. There is nothing wrong with that slightly worn and battered look. It adds an air of tradition and vintage authenticity.
You may already have chairs and be picking the table to go with them. You might also be buying the whole suite at the same time. Going the whole hog gives you more options. You are not restricted by having to match something that is already there.
If that is the case, you will want to make sure the chairs match the table and are just as durable. It is important that they should also be comfortable. Particularly if the table is not just for dining but for home-working as well, people could be sitting on them for long periods, which makes the Carl Hansen Elbow Chair ideal.
The standard table is 75cm (30 inches) high — though it is worth checking — which would make the chair seats a couple of centimetres either side of 45cm (18 inches) off the ground. You will probably need some suitable for daily use but also a few as backup for those occasions when guests arrive. You need to think whether these occasional chairs need to be foldable or stackable when they are not needed. Also pay attention to things like padding, arm rests and the height of the back. They all matter, both for comfort and for judging how much room they will take up.