Recently in Before You Buy Category
Are you purchasing a credenza for your office or home office? Here are a few questions to consider in designing your credenza:
What height should the credenza be? If you intend to use the credenza as a work surface, it should be the same height as your desk (typically 29" high, but measure your desk to be sure). If not, we recommend a height of 34" for credenzas. This breaks up the static height of the tables, and makes the room design more interesting than if all desks and tables were the same height.
How will the credenza be used? There are many storage options including shelves, drawers and lateral files. The options you choose will depend on what will be stored in your credenza.
Will there be electronics inside your credenza? Be sure to measure the components and make sure they will fit inside. You may need special options for the credenza like wiring access or ventilation in the rear panel.
Ventilation is often overlooked when designing a credenza, but it is critically important. Electronic equipment outputs a surprising amount of heat. In an enclosed space the heat can build up to such a level that it can crash or even permanently damage your electronics. Proper ventilation will ensure that eletronic components stored inside your credenza do not overheat.
The simplest form of ventilation is air holes or vents cut into the back panel. Your furniture designer will work with you to make sure the vents are correctly placed to provide airflow to your electronics. If the credenza will contain many components with high power output, simple air vents may not be enough and you may need to have fans installed in the back of the credenza. Either way, make sure to leave a gap of at least a couple of inches between the credenza and the wall; if the back is pressed up against the wall this will block airflow and defeat the purpose of venting.
Buying custom office furniture online doesn't have to be a mystery. The key is to build trust with your supplier. Here are a few questions to ask:
Where is the company located? Can you reach them by phone? You want to be able to pick up the phone and speak to a real person about your order, especially if the furniture will be made to order. Think twice about sending money to a furniture company if you cannot determine from their website where the business is located, or how to get in touch with a live person. A reputable business will not hide this information.
Do they make the furniture themselves? If not, where is it manufactured? Hand-built furniture is an investment and you want to know exactly what you are getting.
Are technical drawings available? Just as you would bring measurements of your room to a furniture store, when buying online you want to be absolutely sure the furniture will fit your space. Diagrams with precise measurements are essential, especially for a large piece. When buying a piece with electrical wiring, such as a conference table, many clients opt to have the installer or electrician come in advance to measure the space and compare with the diagrams.
Are material samples available? If you are concerned about whether your new table will look the same in your dining room as it does in the photo on the website, samples of the actual materials can be very helpful. Note that samples of heavy materials such as granite or metal can be expensive to produce and ship. Many furniture companies require potential customers to purchase samples. This charge is usually deducted from your furniture order.
What are their payment terms? Does the price include freight? Be sure your quote itemizes all charges, and clearly indicates any charges which are not included such as freight. (Freight charges are often based on weight and sometimes cannot be calculated until the size and design of the piece is determined.)
Do they have a showroom open to the public? If not, can you visit their facility? Having a public showroom is not a necessity. After all, the benefit of online sales is to connect with customers all over the country and the world, who wouldn't be able to visit a showroom in a city far away. If there is no showroom, the company should be agreeable to you visiting their factory/facility, distance permitting. On a factory tour you should get to meet the artisans and see the furniture being made -- maybe even your own piece.
Can you see examples of their work in your area? If they have no showroom and you cannot travel to their facility, ask if there are examples of previous sales in your area which you can view. An established business often has a history of happy customers who are willing to let others visit on-site and see the furniture. Of course this will largely depend on your location: if you live in a major metropolitan area this is a much more likely option. An added benefit to visiting a past client is getting to speak with them about their experience working with the furniture company.
Your conference table top can be built in a single piece, or in multiple sections. The decision is based on several factors:
Table size: Stoneline Designs builds conference tables up to 30 feet long. However, 10' is the maximum size top (116" for shaped glass) that we can fabricate and ship in one piece. A conference table top larger than 10' must be in multiple pieces.
Access: If a 10' table top will be made in one piece, all access points must be carefully measured: doorways, elevator, stairwell, tight corners, etc. Remember that the top will be a few inches longer when crated. If any access point is not large enough, the top should be made in multiple pieces.
Design: A single piece top has a smooth, professional appearance. On the other hand, we incorporate the breaks in a multiple piece top into the design for a sophisticated look. Some tables even have different finishes or materials for different sections of the top. Either approach makes an attractive table, depending on the look you are going for in your conference room.
Power/Wiring: A round wiring grommet can be installed in any conference table top, whether single or multiple pieces. A wiring trough runs along the center of the table, and requires the top to be built in multiple sections.
Seating: We plan the break between top sections to fall between chairs, for more comfortable seating. For example, a 10' table will typically seat 10: 4 along each side and 1 on each end. We would divide a 10' top into 2- 5' sections so that the break occurs between the 2 center chairs. A 12.5' table could be made in 2 or 3 sections, depending on whether the table would seat 4 or 5 on each side. We use this same principle for dividing larger tops as well. With careful planning a conference table can be designed so that no chair is placed in front of a pedestal or break in the top, even up to 30' long.
When purchasing a conference table there are many options to consider and choose from. One of the most basic and important decisions is what shape your conference table will be.
Our most popular shaped top is a Boat with all four sides arced. The curve on the long sides helps improve sight lines so that it is easier for conference participants seated at the far ends of the same side of the table to see each other. The graceful curve on all four sides gives the table a sophisticated modern appearance.
A Racetrack Oval is a circle divided in half and stretched out with straight lines connecting the two halves. This shape is particularly effective with a wiring trough running down the center of the table, or an open space down the center for wiring access (as shown).
Rectangular shapes require simpler machining techniques and are competitively priced, making the rectangle a good choice when budget is an issue. A rectangular table is a clean, basic shape which looks good in almost any conference room.
Round shape tops are an excellent choice for smaller conference rooms. Round conference tables can be built to seat anywhere from 6-24, however this shape is usually chosen when smaller meetings are anticipated.
A Wedge shape top is a trapezoid, narrower at one end. This allows a speaker at the wide end to see down the table, or for participants to view a monitor for video conferencing.
Oval shapes can make the most of a smaller space. Due to the curved sides, less clearance is required in the room than with a Rectangular or Racetrack shaped table.
We also design conference tables in a variety of custom shapes, such as Square, Octagon, or U shape, which allows a speaker access to all participants from the center of the table.
Plan ahead for how your table will be used and what shape top will best suit your needs. This planning will help ensure that you purchase the right conference table for you.
Make the most of your conference table investment, and avoid these five common mistakes:
The table is the wrong size for the conference room.
A table which is too large for a small conference room will feel cramped. If the overcrowding is extreme, it may even cause the room to be too warm during full meetings due to lack of airflow. On the other hand, a small conference table in a very large room will appear lost. Either way, a conference table which is the wrong size for the room may make meeting attendees feel uncomfortable. We recommend a minimum of 42" around the conference table on all sides. This leaves room for chairs and to move around the room. 48" of space is preferred for a spacious feel.
The conference room serves too many functions.
A formal conference room is often the least frequently used room in the office, and the temptation to use it for other purposes can be irrestistable. Your conference room can multi-task as long as you don't go overboard. For instance, storage in the conference room is fine, if it means tidy bookshelves full of reference volumes. But cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling or the pile of "old computer parts to be recycled" should stay out of the conference room.
We once saw a conference room which also served as the connecting passage between two halves of an office suite! When the conference room was in use, employees were forced to exit the suite and walk all the way around to the back door to access the kitchen or bathroom. That was an attempt to economize which resulted in continual inefficiency and inconvenience.
Not enough space per person at the conference table.
Do you know the maximum number of people who will use your table at one time? We like to allow at least 30" per chair (28" minimum), and for an executive conference table, 36" per person spacing allows larger chairs and a more spacious feel. You don't want to buy a conference table designed for 10, and then find that you have 14 people shoulder-to-shoulder at your monthly meeting.
On the other hand, you may be a small organization with only a few attendees at typical meetings, and only need to completely fill the table once a year or so. In that case we often recommend storing most of the chairs, only leaving enough chairs out for everyday meetings. Sitting at one end of the table, surrounded by empty chairs, may make your regular staff feel uncomfortable. Removing the extra chairs except when needed will help make your table feel like the right size even at smaller meetings.
See our Conference Table Seating page for more information.
The room is not set up for power and wiring in the conference table.
Before ordering a conference table, think about how the table will be used and whether power/data will be necessary. Ideally this decision will be made while the conference room is still in the planning stages, as floor outlets are often placed under the pedestals. If this is overlooked, or is impossible due to structural issues, cables can be run from the base of the pedestal to a wall outlet. But this is both unsightly and a potential safety hazard.
See our posts on Conference Table Power for more information.
The conference room is poorly lit.
Proper lighting is essential for a productive conference room. The harsh lighting often found in commercial office spaces may make attendees feel uncomfortable, while lighting that is too dim can leave attendees unable to focus during long meetings. Windows which bring in natural light can brighten a room, but they can also ruin meetings if the sun shines directly into the eyes of half the people at the conference table. If your conference room has windows, check the room at various times of the day to see if direct sunlight will be a problem. And if you have any concerns about the lighting in your conference room, consider hiring an interior designer or space planner.
When designing your conference table, there are several factors to consider.
pictured: Crescent Cherry and Granite Conference Table. Cherry panels and cove detail. Boat shape, Solid Wood (Cherry) and Granite Stone top in 3 pieces.
How many chairs will there be? With a Rectangular or similar table, the placement of the pedestals will influence the seating on the long side of the top. We like to allow at least 30" per chair (28" minimum), and when possible we place pedestals in between seats. For instance on a 10' table we would place pedestals 60" apart for seating four people on the long sides. With 1 chair on each end, the 10' table would seat 10 comfortably. At 12.5' we would use 2 pedestals placed 87-90" apart, depending on whether the top is a Rectangle or Boat shape top, and place 5 chairs on each side.
How large is the conference room? A table which is too large for a small conference room will feel cramped. On the other hand, a small conference table in a very large room will appear lost, and may make meeting attendees feel uncomfortable. We recommend a minimum of 42" around the conference table on all sides. This leaves room for chairs and to move around the room. 48" of space is preferred for a spacious feel. If space is at a premium, 36" around the table is the bare minimum. 36" will work better with a round table, as the tightest point will be at the edge of the circle, not the entire length of a rectangular table.
How will the table be used? For an executive conference table, 36" per person spacing allows larger chairs and a more spacious feel. Training tables might use as tight as 27" spacing with appropriately sized chairs.
Will the top be in one piece or multiple pieces? 10' is the maximum size top (116" for shaped Glass) that Stoneline can fabricate and ship in one piece. If planning for a top that size, it is important to prepare. Check access into the building, elevator size, stairwell layout, etc. and make sure the table top will fit before proceeding.
When the top is divided into multiple sections, we also plan the break between tops to fall between chairs. For example, we would divide a 10' top into 2- 5' sections so that the break occurs between the 2 center chairs. A 12.5' table would typically seat 5 on each long side, so dividing the top in 2 is not advised. We would instead make a 12.5' top in 3 pieces: the center section 87-90" long to seat 3, and breaks over each pedestal. Two 30" - 31.5" sections on the ends of the table each seat 1, for a total of 5 on the long sides. We use this same principle for dividing larger tops as well. With careful planning a conference table can be designed so that no chair is placed in front of a pedestal or break in the top, even up to 30' long.