Tips on Buying a Dining Table

In Asian families, food is a very big part of our lives and we often share the table with many friends and family.  Often our dining table becomes the center of our family lifestyle. For today’s tips, I am again going to focus on size, shape and material.

Size: The first question to ask yourself is, how many people are going to use this table?  How many are there in your family?  Do you entertain at home?  Is there a time when you have a sit down meal with friends?  Once you have that figured out, the next step is to ask yourself, how big a table can my home accommodate.  Yes, it has to fit through the front door.

Construction: Nowadays, many tables can be dismantled into pieces separating the table top and legs.  We have a table that is made from solid teak and weighs a ton.  And it is one solid piece!  I remember when we lived on the second floor and the movers had to bring that table up the flight of two stairs.  That was true hard work!  Afterward, they did not feel well and I felt so bad that it was so difficult to move.  If you move often, please keep this in mind.

A table has three measurements; height, width and length.

Height: This is the measurement from the floor to the top of the table.  Now, depending what country you live in, heights can vary.  This is because it is generally based on the average height of the population.  Therefore, tables in Asia are lower that those in the West.  I can say this from experience.  The first table my husband and I bought was in Japan.  Although it is nearly 30 years old, we use it on a daily basis.  It is our family room table and fits my 5’2″ frame very comfortably.  Unfortunately, my 6’0″ husband has felt a bit uncomfortable for rather a long time….Over the years, it was great for the kids, but now they are so tall that I am outnumbered and we don’t know what to do!  On the other hand we have the aforementioned teak table.  It is built for my husband.  It is very tall and for me, well it’s high.  I guess we all have to compromise!  So, the best thing to do is when shopping for a new table, make sure to sit down at the table, so see how comfortable the height is for you and your family.

Width: With so many manufacturers in the market, table shapes and widths do come in a variety of widths.  My girlfriend just told me about her friend who bought a new table and found it is so narrow that she can’t place any food between two people.  That’s not convenient if you want to entertain.

Length: The length obviously depends on how many people you wish to have seated at one time.  If for example, there are on two people who use the table on a daily basis, but you like to have family over for the holidays, it may be best to purchase a table that can be extended for those special occasions.  Psychologically, eating at a large empty table can make one feel lonely.

Shape:  The basic shapes for tables are square, circle, rectangle and oval.  The shape of the dining room table can affect the dynamics of those sitting at the table.  I discussed this in an earlier post The Feng Shui of a Dining Table.  Circular and square tables are nice because you can see everyone at the table without bending over.  However, many homes are not built to fit those shapes.  You really can’t squeeze one in if your room is oblong.  Buy one that fits!  Also, make sure you have ample room around the table, so getting in and out of your chair is possible.

Material: There are a variety of materials to choose from; glass, wood, metal, stone, tile, laminate, bamboo and more.  I like to classify these into two categories, warm and cold.  From the tactile perspective, cold to the touch is glass, metal, stone and tile, while warm to the touch is wood, bamboo and laminate.  The warmer materials are also more resilient and therefore, there is less of a worry that things will break when knocked over the table.

Remembering these tips will help simplify the selection process of buying a dining room table to suit your home and lifestyle.

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