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Choosing the Right Size Dining Table

The Saarinen Dining Table is a true classic coming in many sizes and finishes. I would love this one in my dining room.

With the holidays just around the corner, now is a popular time to purchase a new dining table.  Before you fall in love with that modern mahogany number on sale at West Elm, it makes sense to assess your wants AND your needs.  Many people shop for a style and then make due with the size which is not a good idea.  A “too large” table has guests plastered against the wall trying to make a discreet exit to the ladies room and a “too small” table has one of the kids sitting in the extra chair at the corner.  So let’s go by the Goldilocks rule and find one that’s just right!

The guidelines:

  • Each person requires about 24″ of width so they can comfortably eat and avoid bumping elbows.
  • Allow 32″ between the table and wall to allow people to get up and sit down easily.
  • Allow 38″ if people are also going to be walking back and forth behind the table.
  • Allow 42″ if you are going to serve people from behind their chairs.
  • If you have a china cabinet or buffet table, take your measurement from there, not the wall.

 

The Fredericksburg Oval Dining Table from Thomasville is a great classic piece and love the contrast of the darker chairs.

The Fredericksburg Oval Dining Table from Thomasville is a great classic style.  I love the contrast of the darker chairs.

Here is a rundown on popular table sizes, the number of people accommodated and the recommended minimum room size for round and rectangular tables. I would advise against square tables unless you have a very large room because you need a little more space in the corners to make it comfortable.

 

 

Base your decision on the number of people you usually have at dinner and then add two.  It’s nice to have the extra room for impromptu guests.  Of course, things change when the holidays come and there is always room for everyone. :-)   The rules are easy, your dining area will look welcoming and your guests will be comfortable.

Shop for the perfect Dining Table in My Secret Database!


 

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65 Responses to “Choosing the Right Size Dining Table”

  1. K. Peter Wilden Says:

    We have an oval table measuring 42″ x 56″ with a leaf. We’re trying to buy a cover for it to allow us to accomodate 10 people. Do you have any ideas where I can find something? If I use a piece of 4′x 8′ plywood wil that work given the recommended spacing?
    Thanks

  2. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Peter,
    That is a very good question. The plywood is a creative idea but you would have to be very sure that it is stored flat in a dry location or it will warp over time. I am also concerned about splintering edges. To accomodate 10 people you need a table at least 8′ long and optimally 10′ long. If it’s just for occasional use, you could just add one card table (42×42) to one end. If you need a sturdier solution you might want to look into this Xtender Custom Table Pad. I have not used it myself but it looks like a good idea.
    http://www.guardian-tablepad.com/xtdtpdlg.html?gclid=CL_mucPXsZgCFQLixgodhHIMUQ

    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  3. David Says:

    Are your recommendations in the table based on table and chairs only? I have a 11′x12′ dining room that my wife and I are trying to find a table for. I think that we can get away with a 5′ round table. That will still allow for 3′ of clearance on each side of the 11′ dimension. Thoughts?

  4. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi David,
    Yes, as I mentioned in the last bullet, if you have other furniture in the room, meansure from the furniture, not the wall. The most important thing to consider is clearance between the chair and the next closest thing (wall or buffet). Based on your room size, a 4′ table would be more to scale but I understand that you might be willing to give up a little comfort to have more people at your table. The more the merrier!
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  5. Daniel Says:

    Our dining area is 10’6″ by 10’6″. There are walls in three sides. My wife really likes a dining table set which is 46 X 78 which she saw a furniture store for 6 people. I thought it would be a little too big for the room. We are not planning to put any thing else in the area. What do you think? Is it too big for the room?

  6. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Daniel,
    Since your room is square it is ideally suited to a square or round table but I understand when you find something you like, you want to make it work! You definitely have enough room for the width of the table so that people can get in and out. As far as the length goes, I would place the table so the long way is toward the opening to the room. Make sure the table is about 32″ from the wall. It might help to use string or tape to map it out in the room to see if it works. But if it juts out into a hallway, that might not work and you might want to revisit a round table.
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  7. Kathy Says:

    My dining area that adjoins my kitchen is 11′ 6″ x 11′ 3″. I’m looking for a table that will fit 4 comfortably on a daily basis but up to 8 when we have guests. I also would like to put a server against the 11′ 3″ wall. The servers I have found are anywhere from 18″ to 20″ deep and 54″ to 56″ wide. I need walking room all the way around the table due to doorways that lead to hallway or another room. I have found a 36″ x 54″ butterfly leaf table that opens to 54″ x 54″ and a gathering table that is 40″ x 60″ that opens to 60″ x 60″. I am uncertain which size would be a better fit or if there would be a better option that I may not have considered. I don’t want to overfill the room making feel smaller than it already is. I’m also interested in hanging a chandelier above the table. Would you know the best size to recommend for this size of table?

  8. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Kathy, I am glad you are considering all your dimensions and options before deciding on furniture and lighting for your dining room. This post I did a while back may help you with your questions:
    http://www.mydesignsecrets.com/2008/10/20/choosing-the-right-size-dining-table/
    If you would like more specific advice, I am going to be offering online design consultations soon. That way I can offer you professional advice for your problems with specific advice and actions steps!
    Thanks for reading:)
    ~Lorrie

  9. Margaret Says:

    Thank you so much for this great article. My dining room is 11’6” x 14′ would a 60′ round work in this room. I currently have an oval table and it seems to be taking up way too much space. We typically have 4-6 people for dinner, we can have as many as 8 for Sunday dinner (holidays are 12 -15, so I can never fit everyone around one table, even if we all go on weight watchers.)

  10. My Design Secrets Says:

    You should be okay with a 60″ table. It might be a little tight on the 11″-6″ side but doable. As you can see from the chart above a 13′x13′ space is optimal for a 60″table. I know what you are saying about the holidays. You should see some of the configurations we come up with but the more the merrier!
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  11. rossano Says:

    I have a room the is roughly 11′ x 10.What size and shape would be right for that size and i would like to fit 6 people at least,but most of the time i would need it for 4 people.Any suggestions?

  12. My Design Secrets Says:

    If you look at the chart above you will see you are in between a 42″ and 48″ table. A 48″ table is really best for 6 people and you can probably squeeze it in. Just make sure you dining chairs are not too large in scale.
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  13. George Says:

    We have a 13′ x 16′ dining room and are considering a 72″ round table. Are we crazy or do you think we can make it work?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  14. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi George,
    The optimal size room for a 72″ round table is about 14′-6″ x 14′-6″ which allows about 4′-3″ between the table and the wall. This gives you 18″ for a buffet plus space to easily move around. I think it’s doable, I would just recommend that you put any additional furniture on the short walls to make the space look balanced and to allow people to easily get in and out of their chairs.
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  15. Joanna Says:

    I would like to purchase a round pedestal dining table which measures 54inces in diameter and 74 inches with leaf extensions. What size room will be required for this? I will be purchase a builder home and want to take that into account before i purchase a home. thanks!

  16. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Joanna,
    If you look at the charts above, you will see that your table would require a room that is about 13′x13′. That way you are safe with or without the leaves!
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  17. Sheryl Says:

    I am looking to purchase the Thomasville Fredericksburg collection for my dining room.  I am very concerned that it will not fit into my current room.  I would like some feedback as to what you think.  My room dimensions are as follows: 11 x 15'9.  I have one long room that connects with my living room.  I have a window on one end of the room and a door opening on the side of the room.  I have one long wall on the other side of the room.  The dimensions of the oval table is 46 x 76 x 30.  The chairs are 24 3/4 x 25 1/4 x 42 H.  The dimensions of the breakfront china is 76 3/8 x 21 x 87 3/4 H.  Thank you in advance for your attention to this detail.  I am very nervous about buying something and not having it fit in my room.

  18. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Sheryl, Thanks for reading the blog. Please read the article above carefully and I think you will the answers you need. The key thing is to make sure you have enough room to get in and out of your seat and have others be able to walk behind seated guests. I would love to go through the specifics of your dilemma but don’t have the time. Soon we are going to be unveiling some great design services that will allow you to get my design guidance at very reasonable rates!
    Thanks for reading,
    ~Lorrie

  19. Nancy Says:

    My room is 12 by 13, so it's almost a square but not quite.
    I would love to have a Thomasville Elba table in the 72 inch diameter, but I'm afraid it's too large for the space…  The 60 inch might work better, but I love to have more people rather than fewer.
    I don't think I'll have other furniture in the room — just the table.  Is the 72 a bad idea?  It would give me (at the least) three feet on either side for people to sit in their chairs.

    Thanks!

  20. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Nancy,
    I am smiling right now because I know you read the rules below but you still want to fudge them to fit the larger table! Yes, technically you can fit the 72″ table but your room will look like “all table” and you definitely won’t have room for any other furniture in the room. If it were me, I would at least want a narrow sideboard in the room to put extra food and for a decorative touch. As you know, design is a balance of form and function and I admit sometimes the decisions are difficult. I am going to stick with my original recommendation of a 60″ table in a 13′x13′ room.
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  21. Nancy Says:

    Lorrie,

    Hello! You’re right! You pegged me.

    Since I was thinking about whether to get the 60 or the 72, I went ahead and ordered the 60. then, the guy e-mailed me and said they were out, but that I could have the 72 at the same price!

    Grr….

    Sometimes it’s so hard to do the right thing. Thanks for the nudge in the right direction.

    :)
    All the best,
    Nancy

  22. My Design Secrets Says:

    So funny….glad you stuck to the 60″. I am sure you will be happy!
    Happy Holidays!
    Lorrie

  23. Elena Says:

    Hi.

    I have a really large Dining Room (21′ x 16′)and I would like a really large dining table for it. I plan to have often a lot of guests and it would be great to accommodate everyone comfortably.

    What would be the largest table size I can accommodate?

    I had this crazy idea of buying 3 tables – W60″x D36″x H30″ each – (http://www.comfyco.com/store/casual_dining_sets/hld439.html) and making it a super-large 180″x36″ table. Would it look too bad? I am searching for a contemporary look and that table/chairs look so different.

    Thanks!

  24. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Elena,
    Wow! That is a large dining room you have! The short answer – yes, you have enough room for those three tables. The long answer – I am concerned it will look like a never ending banquet table. There are a few things to consider. I am assuming that your everyday dining with your family could be accommodated with one dining table so I would get one long table with leaves (that extends to 120″) and then get another portable table to add to the end when you have the really large crowds. I recommend a wood top because that would be too much glass in my opinion.
    Good luck!
    Lorrie

  25. Elena Says:

    Thanks Lorrie! I think I will go with traditional table set with extension leaves. I totally agree with the table being too long, but I didn’t want for the table to get lost in such big dining room (21′ x 16′). I won’t have any other pieces of furniture.

    What would you think the very minimum size I should have, so table doesn’t get lost? I really love one table, but it extends to only 108″.

    Thanks again!!

  26. My Design Secrets Says:

    I would say that you need a table that is at least 8′ (96″) long. Also consider some other pieces in the room for storage and buffet use. You could add a sideboard on both sides of the room as well as some plants and artwork. Most people would love to add all those furnishings but don’t have the room so take advantage!
    ~Lorrie

  27. Jan Says:

    Just installed 3 built in seating benches in a 9′ x 6′ (3 walls) nook. The open area is 56″ x 46″. I am thinking an oval table 48″ x 42″ – your thoughts? I am planning on making my own table, so a ‘standard’ size isn’t required. Usually have 4 adults for meals and then use only the 2 longer benches.

  28. My Design Secrets Says:

    I don’t want to to give you specific guidance on this because normally I would want to see this in person and take measurements – especially since you are making the table! One of my reference books suggests 3″ clearance between the bench and table all the way around. This allows you be close to your meal but still leave enough room for sliding in and out. This is close to your measurement, so hope that helps!
    Good Luck!
    ~Lorrie

  29. Becky Says:

    My dining room is 13 ft 10 inches by 13 ft 10 inches. Will a 72 inch round table look like too much table in this room? There will most likley only be a samll buffet in the room with the table.The room is open to the kitchen area on one end and to a large French door on the other. There is a fireplace on one wall and a large window on the wall across from it.

  30. Megan Says:

    Hi,
    I want to have a square dining table custom made. I want to be able to seat 8 people total, 2 on each side of the square. I am most concerned about space under the table so that I can push all 8 chairs in and not have them bump into each other under the table. can you help me figure out what size table I will need (assuming standard chair dimensions, not arm chairs or benches). Room size is not a problem, open plan living/dining room with lots of flexible layout options.

    Thanks!

  31. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Megan, Square tables are more unusual and can be a very nice modern touch. Just like round tables, everyone is evenly space around the table making for easy conversation and no on has to be at the head! For 8 people to sit comfortably, you are going to need a table that is at least 4′-6″ x 4′-6″. But I would encourage to select your chairs first and make sure you have enough space but 24″ -30″ for each chair should be adequate. And don’t forget they have to fit between the table legs!
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  32. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Becky, You should be okay with the 72″ table but please make sure of a couple of things. First, make sure you check your chair size and that you will be able to comfortably seat as many people as you are aiming for. If there are too many chairs at a round table your guests will be bumping legs under the table. Next, make sure you are mindful about the depth of your buffet. 18″ is probably the max you want to go so the chairs are not scooting into it. Once you get your final size for buffet and chairs you might want to fool around with space planning software and check all the clearances that I mention above in my post.
    http://www.thomasville.com/About-Thomasville/Room-Planner.aspx
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  33. Emme Says:

    We are moving into a new home with a 9’4″x12′ dining room, and are trying to order new furniture. Would a 76″x40″ table be too big? We have a large extended family and would like to have the largest table possible for that space. Also hoping to have a 35″wx14.5″d cabinet along the 12′ wall. Any advice?

  34. Haylee Says:

    I have a 13.6″ x 14.4″ dining room. I was thinking that a 60″ round dining table may be too small for the space. I want something that comfortably seats 6-8 people. I was really wanting a 72″ round table. Would that work in this space if someone is seated at the table and people need to be able to walk around them?

  35. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Emme,
    As you can see from the chart in this post, for your room size, the recommended table size would be 30″ x 60″. These are optimal dimensions so you if you don’t mind squeezing that’s up to you. Also, please read in the text above about making room for sideboards and people to get in and out. You might want to try using some space planning software online (I think Thomasville has one) so you can get a good feel. I know it’s hard to fit everyone in for those holiday meals but you don’t want to put too much furniture in a room for the other 360 days a year!
    Good luck!
    ~Lorrie

  36. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Haylee,
    I would stick with the 72″ round table which will seat 7-8 people. Anything larger starts to look REALLY big in that size room and your guests will feel very far away from each other!
    Hope that helps!
    ~Lorrie

  37. JRD Says:

    Our dining room is 18.5 by 11.5 with a double doorway to the kitchen at one short end and a double doorway to a hall centered on a long wall (with a fireplace on the opposite long wall). We are a family of 4 but often entertain for a total of 8-12 and a couple years will need to max out the space. Ideally we would like to have usable sitting chairs in each corner for regular use. We are looking at a 44 inch wide table, considering 8 foot and 9 foot. Thoughts?

  38. sara Says:

    hi, I am in the process of buying a house and it does not have a formal dining area, only a eat in kitchen.The area that is left for a table is 8’7″x12’10″. The table will be against one wall and at the end of one side will be our sliding glass doors and the other side our entry way to the living room. i do have a large family when were all together for the holidays, about ten of us. what size table should I get to try and fit eveyone, or do u think the space will be to small for that amount of people?

  39. Nikki Says:

    I’m looking to sell our oval shaped butterfly leaf table because I’ve had my eye on a solid round wood table (54″). It’s beautiful but I’m worried it will be too small for our family of 5.

    I know that it should seat 5-6 people, but will there be room for food on the table too?

  40. Tina Says:

    Hello. My husband and I disagree, yet again…maybe you can help. The room is 13′ x 10′. I want to buy a 60″ x 42″ table. I also want to buy a buffet for the room. This is where we disagree. He feels that there will be no room for a buffet . What do you think? Thanks.

    Tina

  41. Diane Says:

    I would like to get chairs for a 72″ round dining table and would like to seat 8 people. The chairs will be upholstered with arms (which will fit under the table). What is the maximum width of the chairs that will fit comfortably.
    Thanks,
    Diane

  42. Amutha Says:

    Hi,

    What is your suggestion on to have a seat for 6-8 people, 40X76 is good or 42/46 X 76is good . I am in confusion to buy more width or less width.

    Thanks

  43. Matt Says:

    I have a room that is…10 x 12.5 kitchen table needed. I am looking at a pottery barn tabel that is 60×60 with a leaf in it to make it 60×90 (only need that on holidays. Behind one side is a wall… behind the opposite is a half wall. Behind the wall to the left is a sliding glass door (on the short side of the room) and on the the opposite is the side of the kitchen with a kitchen that is open (servers behind that side) that is the 10 -10-5 side to the kitchen island…it is also the walk through area from the living room through the kitchen to the laundry room.

    Any thoughts… here is the table: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/lancaster-dining-table/?pkey=csquare-rectangular-tables

    Let me know your thoughts please

  44. Jessica Says:

    I have a 10-7″ x 6-10″ ‘dining’ area (more of a nook) that opens into the living area. I realize that I should have a round table. The number of seating is not necessarily important. Would a 48″ round table be too overpowering? The smaller tables that I am finding tend to be bar height, which I am trying to avoid. I would appreciate any suggestions, this has me a bit stumped!

  45. pam Says:

    hi i have a dining area off the kitchen 10×10 with three walls is a 48″ round table to large for this size room?

  46. My Design Secrets Says:

    Hi Everyone, I don’t have the time to answer each individual question so that’s why I took the time to develop the guidelines above. I am sure you will find your answers if you read the post carefully.
    Good luck!
    Lorrie

  47. Kristen Says:

    Hi Lorrie,
    Your advice has been extremely helpful! I have a 11′ x 11′ dining room. What size and style table would you recommend?

    Thank you!
    Kristen

  48. Debbie Says:

    Hi Lorrie,
    We are struggling with table dimensions for our kitchen. We have an open layout from family room, eating area and kitchen. The carpet/wood floor line make a nice diving line. Our eating space is 8.5 ft x 7.5. However, that is not walled in and includes extra space araround. We were looking at a 60″ table but are wondering if that’s too big. 48″ seems small. We are a family of 4, but often have other kiddos joining us. The card table must go after 8 months!

    Thanks for your help!
    Debbie

  49. Jeanette Says:

    My kitchen space for a table is 9’10″ x 9’5″. One wall has a door wall, the opposite wall has the door to the laundry room. The others are open; one to the family room and the other to the kitchen. Number of people at the table is not as important as how the table fills the space. Do you think a 54″ round table would be too large for this space? The table I have now is 54″ x 41″ and it looks fine, but I would like to switch to a round table.

  50. Jackie Says:

    Hi, Lorrie,

    Here’s a funny question about a potential pedestal problem. How much foot room needs to be under a table? Or in other words, how far does a chair normally get pushed in beneath a table for dining? A rectangular table I absolutely love (but haven’t purchased yet) has two round pedestal bases. My teenage son says he’ll have to put his feet on the pedestals, when the table is configured for 6 chairs, (with 2 chairs on the long sides). Does he have a point? I have noticed that no other pedestal tables seem to be just like this one……

    Thanks!
    Jackie

  51. Serina Says:

    And to add to my question above about the correct table size for an 8×8 dining room; would it be better to do a round or square table in the space? I really like round tables.

  52. Laura Says:

    Hi, we are trying to decide what size table (either rectangle or round) would be good for a small dining room that is 9′ x 6’3″. We wanted to try to be able to seat 6 people if possible. I think the 5′x3′ table would be too long, not allowing ample room to get your legs inside the table when sitting down. What do you suggest?

  53. My Design Secrets Says:

    Please check out the guidelines above and good luck!

  54. My Design Secrets Says:

    It shouldn’t be a big problem unless your table is very small. Your feet may touch the pedestal but people usually do not scoot their chairs in enough for that to happen.
    Good luck!
    Lorrie

  55. My Design Secrets Says:

    That size should be fine. Please look at the wall clearances above to double check your specific situation.
    Good luck!
    Lorrie

  56. Cole Says:

    I am purchasing my first home and excited to decorate. I am trying to find a dining room table for the dining area. The room is 12 x 11 and have found 2 tables that I like and wondering would either one of these work in the space?

    Table 1:
    54 x 54 x 36H
    Bench: 46 x 26 x 44H
    Barstool(s): 22 x 19 x 43H

    Table 2:
    (42×42″, expands up to 54″ wide with 12″ leaf), four chairs (each 18x19x42″) and a 2-seat bench (44x20x42″).

  57. Tracie Davis Says:

    I an fixing to build my dream home and I don’t want a formal dinning room, there is a breakfast nook that is 10.6′ by 12′ I can easily extend the 12′ wall to accommodate what I want, but by how much?? I would like to have a table that seats 8, so how much do I need to expand the space and what shape table would you recommend? There will be no other furniture in there. 84″ by 42″ is the size table I like but at this point I am flexible. Thanks you for your advice!

  58. Reggie Says:

    I have a 60″ round table can I make it fit in a 10′x14′ space? I really don’t want to have to purchase a rectangular table. Thoughts???

  59. Mary Says:

    Hi Lorrie! We have a 13’2″ by 13 ‘ dining room. I am in love with a table that comes in 2 sizes. 36″x92″ or 40″ x112″. It is a modern rustic design (metal and wood). We have a big family (6) and I want the bigger size but my husband says it’s way to big for the room. What do you think? Any possiblilty it would work?

  60. Bob Says:

    My dining room is 13′ by 14′ and I am looking at buying a 72″ round table. I have no buffet tables. We seem to always have guests over and we are six in our family will this size table be too big for the room.

  61. Diane Says:

    Hello, we have a 12×14 dining room, center of the house. I have fallen in love with a 4′ x 8′ farmhouse table. Can I make this table work in this space?

  62. Dining Table Sets @BBT.com Says:

    [...] Choosing the Right Size Dining Table: What’s the right size to buy for a dining table set? Not only do you need to consider the size of the dining table in relation to the room and the number of occupants but you should also take into consideration the occupied space of the chairs. Note that each person requires about 2” of width for comfort. You should allow at least 2 ½ feet from the table to the wall. (www.mydesignsecrets.com) [...]

  63. marilyn courchesne Says:

    Hi,

    I have a room that is 12 ft 6 inches length by 10 ft depth. I would like a rectangular table … what size table would be right for this room. Thank you.

  64. Tiffany Says:

    I have an 11 by 11 (10 by 10ft 10 in) dining room, but it opens into the living room with vaulted ceilings, so there are only two walls. Can this allow me to extend on the rules, and by how much?

  65. Deanna Fogarty Says:

    I have an 11’8″ X 11’8″ dining room and am in love with a round table by “Brownstone” called Sienna. The dimensions are 56″ round without the extensions and 72″ with. Is the 56″ round reasonable for everyday but when I want the advantage of the 72″ can I swing it? (no other furniture in the room)

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