7 Dining table buying tips

With its durability, style, and functionality, they are sure to be a focal point in your dining room for years to come.

Sophisticated dining room with the Santiago dining table and the Hamilton dining chairs.

Choosing the perfect dining table

If you are like most of us, you probably don’t buy a new dining table every six months. You will use yours for anywhere between 5 and 10 years. So, choosing your dining table shouldn’t be done in a hurry. To help you make the right decision, we’ve put together this dining table buying guide.

Step 1: Measure your space

Don’t fall in love with a design, only to have to “figure out” ways to make it work. Save yourself the time (and heartache) and instead establish the workable space your new dining table must fit. Measure the length and width of your allocated space. Then minus 80-100cm from each dimension. Why? To avoid a cramped and unwelcoming dining environment, your table will ideally need around 90cm of space on all sides. If you have a very small room or a space with changing uses, consider a convertible design – one that can transform into a coffee or console table for example.

The Amsterdam corner sofa with lounging unit and footstool in a beige Lazio fabric with the Augusta table in a nice large living room.

Step 2: Get in shape

This isn’t set in stone but, like it or not, certain table shapes just work better within certain room shapes. The rule of thumb is: - Square and circular table tops do well in square rooms. - But they will look and feel awkward in rectangular spaces. - Rectangular and oval-shaped tables best suit rectangular rooms. - But will look and feel awkward in square spaces.

Desk with books, a leather folder, and an open drawer revealing magazines.

Step 3: Build a mock-up

If you have a shortlist of table shapes and sizes, but are still unsure, this could help. Measure and mark out the table top on the floor with magazines. Then arrange dining chairs as they would stand. Pull out a chair. Sit down. Walk around. Use this simple and inexpensive trick to get an idea of how you, the table and the room will interact.

Overhead view of two people discussing material samples and floor plans at a table.

Step 4: How will you use it?

Will sitting at the table be reserved for weekends and dinner parties? Maybe an extendable design, which is relatively space-saving when off-duty, could be your best choice. If your table will get a lot of daily action, maybe doubling as a desk, we would suggest a highly durable table top material: Choose heat- and scratch-proof ceramic; solid wood or glass – but go for tempered glass as it is super strong and scratch resistant. Veneer can also provide years of durable service but be sure it’s real wood veneer and thin too, as with time, thick veneer can be prone to peeling away.

Contemporary dining room with extendable table, dark chairs, pendant light, and vase with greenery.

Step 5: Choose colour cautiously

Colour is an important element in the orchestration of a fabulous home. But the longevity of a dining table means it must be able to work across changing themes. Staple hues like black, grey, brown and white will always be on-trend. They will also work as dependable backdrops to whatever trend colour you happen to love this season. Do you share your space with crayon-wielding toddlers or boisterous pets? Then we would suggest you avoid matt white and light woods.

A woman dancing next to the Santiago dining table in brown ceramic.

Step 6: Don't overlook the base

It can seem like simply an aesthetic decision, but the base of your new dining table will affect the way you use it. If you intend to regularly maximise seating on a small table, opt for a design with a pedestal base, to avoid diners hitting their knees on table legs. Pedestals are also great at freeing up space in a small room. Large table tops can promise ample space yet snatch it away with a cumbersome frame. And there’s only one way to weed out these deceptive design flaws…

Elegant dining area with a marble table, velvet chairs, and a white sofa in the background.

Step 7: Try it out ... thoroughly

We’re of course big fans of online shopping, but we would recommend trying out tables in stores. Like ours, we imagine your family members come in different sizes, so bring them along too. Sit, stroke surfaces, move chairs around, try out extendable leaves, check for signs of wear. This is likely to be one of the hardest working pieces in your home, so take…your…time.

Woman sitting at festive dining table with candles and oranges.