The dining table is an important fixture in any house. It’s the scene of big family dinners, holiday celebrations, and conversations with friends over a home-cooked meal and a glass of wine. If connections between people are made and deepened by breaking bread together, the dining table is the stage on which the scene unfolds. Finding the right table for your home takes a combination of planning, research and evaluation to ensure a purchase you’ll be pleased with for a long time to come.
The Planning Stage
Budget: It’s always wisest to set your budget first, so you can focus your search on tables you can actually afford. Set a strict budget with a 10 per cent overage, in case you stumble upon the table of your dreams.
Placement: Think about the space your dining table will occupy. Is it a formal set-up, or a more relaxed atmosphere? Will it be in a separate room or an open-concept design? Draw and measure the room to help you determine what size and shape of table you’re looking for and bring the drawing and photos of the room when you go shopping.
How Will You Use It: Will the table be used every day or only for big holidays? Will it exclusively be used for dining or will it also be the site of school and art projects, homework, checking emails or home administration? Will there be children using the table? How many people will need to fit? Do you want a smaller table for everyday that can be expanded with leaves when needed?
Research and Shopping
Size: Once you know how big your room is, and how many people you need to be able to seat at the table, you can determine what size of table to buy. Place settings should be about 60 centimetres wide for comfort, and keep 90 to 120 centimetres of space between the table edge and the wall or nearest furniture so people can sit comfortably and pull out their chairs.
Shape: Square and rectangular tables are more formal, while round and oval tables are better for promoting conversation.
Style: The table should suit the style of your dining room and your entertaining style. Dark woods like walnut and cherry are the most classic and elegant styles, while paler woods lend themselves to a more casual feeling. Consider carefully a metal table; it may not suit your tastes as long as a good wooden table. Glass table are less heavy in a smaller room, however are notoriously full of fingerprints, so buyer beware if there will be a lot of children around. The chairs you use will further dress your table up or down, so include this in your research and shopping before you make a final table purchase.
Making The Purchase
Quality: Have a look under the tabletop to see how everything is held together. Avoid any tables that are joined by only nails or glue. Look for elegant dovetail joints or a combination of glue with wood dowels or screws. Lean on the edge of the table and wiggle to ensure that the construction is solid and will stand the test of time. If the table has leaves, put them in place in the shop and double-check for stability. Finally, choose a table finish that you’re comfortable caring for over the years. Some woods will require more constant upkeep to maintain a beautiful finish.
Dining tables are a big investment, and are something you should plan to enjoy for many years. With that in mind, buy the best-quality table you can afford so that you’ll feel good about your purchase and enjoy many years of sitting round the table connecting with friends and family.