what size dining room table should I get?

Ok. This is not a food related question, but I figured a dining room table is usually used to enjoy a meal at so I'd see if anyone here had any advice.
We recently moved and went from a very large dining room to a small dining room. It is open on one end to the length isn't an issue but the room is only 8 feet wide. My current table is 42" wide with a bench on one side and it is difficult getting on and out on the one side. The opposite side is open to the kitchen with a peninsula counter dividing the rooms.I am thinking a 36" table will work but will that be too narrow to serve food on? Should we get 2benches? I don't particularly like that idea because the bench can be harder to get in and out of when there are multiple people sitting on it. I should mention that so far we are a family of four but often have anywhere from 2-7+ extra people over so I don't think a round table will work. And with the configuration of the room, we can't put built in benches on either of the long sides of the table (cabinets on one side and patio door on the other) Any table recommendations? Or, should I try to convince my husband we need to move a wall! This is my one issue with the house so I'm hoping for a solution.

  • Posted by: ktr
  • December 6, 2015


702551 December 10, 2015
From the photos, your table size appears to be okay.

The problem is the bench. You can't push it in, so it is always protruding, even if no one is sitting on it. Moreover, you are putting two chairs on the long end nearest the sliding glass door. Because of the size of these chairs, you can only fully push in one of them.

The bench is also preventing you from moving the table closer to the room (photo #1, toward the left) presumably because it decreases passing space from the kitchen to the dining area. This cramps the person seated at the head of the table on the right (photo #2, right side, where the computer is).

Ditch the bench and put one chair on that side. That should allow you to push in all of the chairs when no one is seated at the table. You can also move the table 12-18" to the left (photo #1) so it is closer to the room. Without the bench, you still have plenty of walking space because that bench won't there.

As suggested earlier, smaller chairs would help as will chairs with a lower back in making the space seem more open.
amysarah December 6, 2015
Theoretically, 36" clearance (between table and wall/barrier) is minimum for comfort getting to and in/out of chairs, but in small apts I've done 30" and it's usually ok for most (not for elderly and so on - the end chair is more accessible.) So 36" would be your max. table width - less roomy for serving platters, etc., but I'd prioritize comfort, also, maybe you could use the peninsula as a nearby lay down place when the table is full.

I definitely wouldn't rec 2 benches - way more inflexible than chairs in a tight space for circulating in/out. Try to use small scaled chairs too - there can be a big difference in width/depth of dining chairs. (PS my firm does lots of interiors - this config is a common issue in many small places!)
ktr December 6, 2015
Good to know that a 36" wide table should be ok. And yes, I think smaller chairs will be a must. I like having 4 posts on the table but I'm also thinking that a center pedestal table may make it easier to get in and out of on the sides as well. Although I do need a table that expands and I love our butterfly leaf we have now (no having to store the leaf and then remembering where it is).
amysarah December 6, 2015
It's also easier to squeeze extra chairs around a table with a pedestal (or central support) than one with legs close to the edges, though there are fewer expandable ones on the market - so maybe six of one, half dozen....
Nancy December 6, 2015
Just a thought...is the current dining room the only one you can use for that purpose, or are there other options?
ktr December 6, 2015
This is our only dining room so unfortunately we have no other dining options. And really, I do love the space, I just need to figure out a way to be able to get it set up so it is more functional and can use the chairs on the one side of the table.
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