The dining table is the centerpiece of the dining room. Buying a dining table is an exercise in finding balance between form and function. Use this guide to find a table that complements your decor, serves your dining needs, and withstands the test of time.

Table Design

Don’t dismiss the dining table as just a surface to gather around for meals. Interesting choices in shape, style, and colour can make the dining table a substantial piece of furniture that can set the tone for the entire room.

Classic Shapes

Rectangular and round tables are time-honoured choices that fit most dining room spaces. Round tables promote easy-flow conversations, and rectangular tables accommodate lots of guests, especially when extended with a leaf or two.

Contemporary Squares

Choose a square table for a more unique, modern look. For versatility, watch for a rectangle table that transforms into a square by adding the leaf down the length of the table.

Contour with Character

Perk up a lacklustre dining room with a table that has a shape that catches your eye. Pick an oval or octagonal table, for instance, to introduce curves to a boxy room.

Traditional Dining

If your style is traditional, then complement your decor with a dining table true to your style. Rich wood finishes and carved legs are classic features.

Country Charm

Country style favours distressed or worn woods and chunky construction. Trestle tables are a farmhouse favourite. Pair it with a couple of benches instead of traditional chairs for a casual approach.

Casual Cottage Style

The carefree charm of a casual cottage calls for a dining table that is equally laid-back. Look for pieces with painted finishes and tabletops nestled on a pedestal base.

Modern Looks

Certain materials distinctly speak to modern design. Seek dining tables made from metals, such as stainless steel, or with chrome finishes. A glass tabletop is a contemporary staple.

The Right Size Table

The ideal table serves guests but doesn’t over-stuff the room. Fill a large room with a table that grounds the space. Make the most of a small room with a modest table with leaves that can double its capacity. To allow chairs and people to move around the room comfortably, find a table that leaves about three feet between it and the walls. Measure the room -and the doorway- to know what the room can handle.

Function of the Table

Think about how you use the dining table. If you host the entire family for Thanksgiving, you’ll want a table that expands with leaves. If quiet conversation fits your dining habits, choose a round table that allows everyone to see each other and converse easily. Square or round tables offer ultimate flexibility — intimate when closed yet accommodating when expanded into a rectangle or oval.

Multi-functional Tables

Seek out tables with dual purposes for versatility around the house. A cocktail table that raises to dining table height serves both the living and dining rooms. A drop-leaf table can live as a family room console table or breakfast room buffet, then expand for dining company.

Veneer Options

An option to solid wood is veneer, a thin layer of wood glued atop a base, such as plywood or medium-density fibreboard. High-quality veneer tables have a solid core, and the legs will be solid wood. Veneer is more affordable than solid wood, and it warps and splits less than wood. However, peeling edges and blistered surfaces can occur, particularly on inexpensive, mass-market pieces.

Solid Wood

A solid wood table doesn’t include other materials, such as plywood or particleboard. These tables are durable and long-lasting because most scratches and stains can be repaired. On the other hand, solid wood tables are more expensive, and the wood can split over time.

Choose the Right Finish for You

When considering table finishes, know your tolerance for wear. Glossy sheens and dark stains or paints show nicks faster, while light woods and distressed finishes disguise them. Choose watertight coatings to avoid water rings. Skip glass tops in high-traffic areas or homes with lots of little fingers.