Dining furniture is used for so much more than just dining, whether it be work, school or other projects. As a result, it is a very highly trafficked area, so you want to make sure you’re investing in pieces that will last. The dining area is often near to the front entrance so anyone that comes into your house will likely pass by the dining room and quite possibly sit there. Therefore, style can’t be compromised. Some days you might only sit down here quickly to write a shopping list, or you may dine here for several hours at a dinner party. This makes comfort of utmost importance too. So how do you decide what table and chairs to purchase? Here we answer some of the most common questions people ask when buying dining furniture.
What size dining table is right for me?
The two main questions that will help you answer this question are:
How big is the room you want to put it in?
How many people do you want to be able to seat?
Dining tables come in a wide range of sizes as well shapes, materials and styles. The standard height in New Zealand is around 750mm but length and width can vary greatly.
It is generally recommended that dining table width is at least 900mm to allow room for place settings and food, however a table that is too wide makes conversing and passing food difficult. Usually the longer your table is, the wider it’ll be. In order to easily get in and out of your dining chairs, you’ll want at least 900mm between your table and the walls or other furniture. So, if you have a narrow room, you might need a narrower table.
In terms of length, you’ll need to consider how many people you want to fit around it. 600mm of space for each person is about right so for two people on each side, allow approximately 1200mm, three people 1800m and so on, plus a bit of extra space in between. There’s also the option of a round or oval table, which can work much better in some spaces and often come with pedestal bases rather than legs which provides more leg room.
Another option is extension tables which allow you to adjust the length of the table to suit different situations.
What are extension dining tables and should I get one?
Extension tables come with extra leaves which are used to extend the length of the table, a very useful function when accommodating extras. There are three main types of extension tables.
Round or oval extension tables come with a butterfly leaf folded under the centre. When needed, it opens out like wings on a butterfly and sits flat in the centre as the ends are pulled outwards, to create a longer table.
Drop leaf tables have a collapsible leaf on each side. One or both sides can be raised depending on the table size needed and collapsed down when not in use.
Regular extension tables are mostly rectangular and comes with extra leaves that can usually be stored under the tabletop when not in use. The ends of the table can be pulled apart to place the extra leaves in the centre gap when needed.
If you like to entertain but don’t want a really big table, extension tables can be a practical solution. Choose an extension table which has enough room to fit your household without any leaves added in, then you can just extend whenever you have extras. Or if it’s just for occasional use, you can shrink it to its smallest size when not in use, so it doesn’t take up a whole lot of space.
How many chairs can I fit around my dining table?
As we said previously, you generally need to allow for 600mm per person, but some chairs can take up quite a bit of space too, so you need to allow space for that and for people sitting at table ends. Round dining tables or square tables can sometimes fit more people than oval or rectangular shapes, especially if they have a pedestal base.
Round tables size guide:
Approx. 1050mm diameter seats 3 - 4 people
Approx. 1200mm diameter seats 5 - 6 people
Approx. 1500mm diameter seats 6 - 7 people
Approx. 1800mm diameter seats 8 -10 people
Approx. 2400mm diameter seats 11 -12 people
Although you can often fit a lot of chairs around a round table, keep in mind that if a round table is too large it can be hard to reach food in the middle. In such cases a rectangle table may be better for a really big crowd.
Rectangular table size guide (with 1 person on each end as well as on the sides):
Approx. 1200mm long seats 4 people
Approx. 1500mm seats 4 -6 people
Approx. 1800mm long seats 6 people
Approx. 2000mm long seats 6 - 8 people
Approx. 2200mm long seats 8 people
Approx. 2600mm long seats 10 peopleApprox. 3000mm seats 12 people
If your table is square (at least 1200mm), you may be able to fit more people on each end so this will increase the number of people that you can seat. Bench seats can be a great alternative to dining chairs with rectangular or square tables as you can often squeeze a couple more people in. If you’ve got an extension table, remember to keep a few extra chairs for when you need them.
What makes a dining chair comfortable or uncomfortable?
Sometimes we spend quite some time sitting on a dining chair so the last thing you want is to be uncomfortable. For a start, you need chairs that are the right height, so your legs aren’t squeezed up against the table. As the standard table height is approximately 750mm, a chair height of 400mm - 500mm is about right to create a sufficient gap for your legs while making sure you’re not too low down from the table.
You might expect that a wooden chair would create a hard, uncomfortable surface for sitting on and this can be the case but there are a few small details that make our dining chairs quite comfortable.
The most obvious one is an upholstered seat which provides a layer of cushioning, or a padded back for all-over comfort. However, our wooden chairs without padding feature a dished seat so you can more or less mould into the chair rather than sitting on a flat hard surface.
A slightly curved back is important too so that you can recline into a natural position that is comfortable. Different people prefer different back heights so think about the people that will be using it most (e.g., you and your family) and what they prefer.
Some dining chairs come with arms which can make a chair more comfortable although they do take up extra space.
The chair foundation is also important, so that you’re on a stable surface. You’re not likely to be too comfortable if your chair is a bit wobbly, so the legs need to be sturdy.
Can I customise my dining furniture?
If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, no problem. All of our NZ made furniture is customisable so you can alter dimensions to tailor to your space and personal needs, find a colour that suits and choose a fabric for comfortable padding. Take a look at our wooden dining tables and dining chairs to get started.