Discover a Designer's Secret to Creating the Best Dining Room

William Sonoma Heritage Dining Room Table - large but 'airy'

What are the Biggest Mistakes in Selecting Dining Room Tables?

Make no mistake, you have company coming to your home soon! You have visions of friends and family gathered around the holiday, birthday, anniversary, or graduation themed table. But the vision quickly turns into a nightmare! Once again you are faced with one or all of the three biggest problems most have with dining rooms.
  • You realize your room size was designed for midgets - not for seating eight to ten comfortably. Or it's so large you feel like your in an airplane hanger. 
  • Your chandelier never was in style. (By the way, it's installed either too high or too low and doesn't go with anything else in the room.)
  • Your chairs all match (boring).They may be uncomfortable and the fabric was out of style twenty years ago.

Dining Table Ideas 101

Many of the dining rooms I see are often too small or too large for typical family gatherings. Maybe the room can only handle a 36" deep table and no sideboard or buffet. Or the room is too large, so the space makes dining for four look like the rest of the company never showed up.

Wherever you are in your dilemma, keep these basic rules in mind when buying a new dining table so you actually will enjoy and want to use this room for upcoming festivities.

  1. Allow at least 24" of table space for each diner's place setting and room for candles, centerpieces or if you still use them - a salt and pepper set.
  2. Make sure people can get to their seats! Around a table there should be a minimum of 36" from edge of the table to the wall - so you and others can get to their chairs before the food gets cold.
  3. Whenever possible, look for tables that have pedestals so that you and your guests have ample leg room. This way they won't damage the table legs that you won't notice till they have left the scene! 
  4. Be realistic in choosing the finish of the table. If your entertaining is casual, look for a distressed finish that will hold up to all those people (small and large, young and old) who will accidentally find some way to scratch the table top, legs or the table apron.
  5. If your dining preferences lean toward the aristocratic vibe - make sure your cleaning staff use the correct furniture polish on your table and chairs.

For professional interior design for your home, office or commercial project call:


Mary Alice Smith of M. A. Smith, Ltd. - an interior designer serving New Jersey, including Ocean and Monmouth County, the Jersey Shore and metropolitan New York areas.

To schedule an appointment call: 732 690-2030 or email me at masmith729@comcast.net.

M. A. Smith, Ltd., Interior Design
Allied Member ASID