If you’re heading out to shop for a new dining set, a little homework ahead of time will keep you from making a costly mistake. Though finding a style you like is important, making sure it will fit and function comfortably in your space is even more important. While there are several factors to consider when selecting a dining table, there is one in particular that you absolutely need to consider, and I’ve found it can often be overlooked by the sales people in your local showrooms.
The showroom can help you determine the size of dining table you would like, based on the number of people you’d like to seat (though there are charts with this information readily available on the internet). That said, what we’d really like to have vs. what will actually function well in the space, might be too different things.
- Clearance & Push-Back ~ It goes without saying that you’ll need to measure the space where your dining set will be used, but once the set is in place, it’s important to have a comfortable clearance around the table for walking. When laying out furniture arrangements for any room, I always allow 36″ of clearance for a comfortable traffic pattern. So, consider how wide your table will be (with chairs), and how much room you’ll have between other pieces of furniture and the walls. “Push-back” is the area beyond the edge of the table, which allows a person to move their seat for entering and exiting. The standard push-back allowance is about 24-30″, and while you can steal a bit from your 36″ clearance area, consider that people may need to pass behind those that are seated, and how tight of a squeeze you want that to be.
- Area Rugs ~ When placing an area rug under a dining table, there are two important considerations. One: The rug needs to be a minimum of 2′ wider and longer than your table. This will allow for your push-back while keeping the back legs of the chair on the rug. If you’ve ever tried to scoot your chair up to a table and have the rear legs get caught on the edge of the rug, you know what I’m talking about! Two: Once you have the rug size determined, make sure the edges won’t be positioned directly in the center of your clearance area so that when people pass by the table, they’re walking completely off of the rug. Having the edge of a rug running straight down the aisle can be a tripping hazard, so when using area rugs in any room layout, make sure the edges and corners are properly fitted to your space and traffic patterns. The photo* here is a perfect example of a properly fitted area rug, both for the size of the dining set as well as the room.
I hope you’ve found these dining room tips helpful! Planning the layout of your rooms can be challenging, especially with today’s over-sized furniture. If you’re in need of a little help, my Designer Download® is a great way to get you the ideas, information and resources you need to complete your projects. I come armed with a tape measure and sketch pad, and will leave you knowing exactly what to shop for!
Design should be fun, not stressful!
*Photo attribution to Casey Dunn Photography
What great advice Kathy! I especially wouldn’t have thought about the dimensions of the area rug so it wouldn’t end in the middle of the walkway. I also appreciated learning how much of an allowance you should leave for people pushing their chairs back when they’re sitting down or getting up. Thanks so much for the fantastic tips!
My wife and I are looking into a new dining room table and have a couple of thoughts. We have been married now for almost two years and see kids in our not so distant future. The problem that we are having is that we REALLY like the Pub height tables…but can’t see that working that great with future rug rats. Are there mid height tables that we may get the look and functionality that we are looking for all in one?
I understand your concern, and agree that a pub table is a little high when you’ve got toddlers and are worried about them toppling over. The average dining table height is 30″, and a pub table is normally 42″. There is an in-between option, and it’s called a counter height table, and that hits at 36″ high, which is the average height of kitchen counters. It’s still a bit high for the little ones, but honestly, you’ll most likely have them strapped in a seat until they’re big enough to climb up and down by themselves anyway, so this height just might do the trick! It still gives you that pub table look, but with a little less danger. : ) I hope this helps!
We recently renovated our kitchen and I feel like our kitchen table is just to big for the new space. Can I email you a picture and get your advice?
I hope you found my blog helpful! If you have the feeling that your table is too large, it most likely is. If you’ll take some measurements of the overall size of the table, including chairs, then subtract that from the length and width of your room, that’s a good test to see how much clearance and push-back space you have. The guidelines for that are in the blog, which I suspect you read. : ) Some people don’t mind the space being a bit tight, but when it is, that’s when you get the feeling that it’s just too big, which will actually make your space look smaller.
I hope this helps!