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Come Dine With Me: Talking About Tables

Written by Sarah Rodrigues

Sure, there are some evenings that call for nothing more than bowls on knees in front of the television, but sitting down to eat at a table is one of life’s pleasures. Having plates you love to eat from, a cluster of flowers you’ve handpicked and silverware that makes you smile is a bonus, but first, you need the canvas - the RIGHT canvas - on which to lay it all out. 

First, check out the size and shape of your room. A round table is wonderfully democratic - just ask King Arthur! - but will probably work best in an alcove or recess, where its curved lines will blend with the wall flow. If your space is more linear, look for rectangular or possibly even long oval designs. 

Purpose

...is also a critical factor - are you feeding young children in the morning and evening, and then using your surface as a place to set down a laptop or engage in some kind of creative activity during the day? Does it need to be durable and easy to clean? Will it have only occasional use - and then be zhooshed up with a whole load of wow factor when guests descend? You’ll be drawn to different surfaces depending on these needs: frosted glass or matt, wipe-clean surfaces are your go-to if regular and varied use is what you have in mind; otherwise, you may enjoy the event lustre of a wood finish. 

Size

...as with anything of a living area nature, must be considered when choosing a dining table - but rest assured, your dreams of hosting large, extravagant gatherings need not be shelved just because you have a petite kitchen or dining room. Extendable dining tables, or tables with extendable leaves are your friend, giving you the option of having just the amount of seating space you need, when you need it, without impacting on your floor space on a daily basis. 

Support

...is another issue - pedestal or legs? Legs tend to provide more stability but a pedestal frees up seating arrangements. 

There are some other rules of thumb you should consider before splashing out on an eating surface - so tape measures at the ready:

  • People need to be able to rise comfortably from their seat (especially after a big meal!) so allow around 100cm between the table and the wall, so they don’t feel squished and awkward. 
  • Cosy settings are lovely; personal space is even lovelier. Each person sitting at your table should have at least 60cm of table surface but the more the better - nobody wants to be elbowed as they eat. 
  • Think also about the amount of space between knees and the underside of the table when seated - around 30cm is a good gap to shoot for. 
  • If your kitchen or dining area is smaller than your zest for entertaining, you can indulge in a bit of ‘trick’ decor to accommodate everyone without encroaching on your space so noticeably: think clear glass or perspex tabletops, which are much less visually impactful than a solid surface.