A formal dining table can be a major purchase. Before you buy, think about what you want from your dining table and how it will fit into your lifestyle.
Size is the first issue most people think of when shopping for a dining table, and it isn't always as simple as it might seem. Of course you must measure your dining room, to make sure the new table will fit. We recommend a minimum of 42" around the dining table on all sides. This leaves room for chairs and to move around the room.
Also consider how many people will sit around the table, both at everyday family meals and at special events. Do you throw large dinner parties, frequently enough that your table needs to accommodate 12 people or even more on a regular basis? Or does an event like that only happen once in a blue moon? This will affect the size of table you need.
If you plan to use the same dining table both for intimate family meals and for large gatherings, we recommend removing most of the chairs from the table for everyday use. Two or three people clustered at the end of a massive dining table, staring at a row of empty chairs, can feel lonely and distancing. Removing the extra chairs will help make the table feel like a comfortable size for the family.
Will your table be used for other purposes besides meals? How? Will the kids do their homework at the dining table, and need room to spread out? Are there any social clubs or study groups which will meet in your dining room? Or perhaps a family member, lacking a dedicated craft room, will use the dining table for project workspace. (Be sure your family crafter protects the tabletop before using glue, markers or tools!) Consider all these possible uses when choosing the size and style of your dining table. A dining room which is rarely used except for special occasion meals will be much more formal and sophisticated than an informal space which is used for everyday family meals.