Part Three of our series on How to Shop for Furniture Online focuses on one of the most important pieces of any home: the Dining Room Table.
There are many benefits to shopping for furniture online. You aren’t limited by geography in your search, you have a wider selection to choose from, and you can shop at a leisurely pace from the comfort of your own home. But when it comes to purchasing large investment pieces like a dining room table, it’s crucial to do your research before buying. We’ve compiled some tips and strategies to help get you started shopping for your dining table online.
What Comes First: the Table or the Chairs?
When shopping for a dining room table, one of the first questions you must answer is how many people do you want your table to seat? Is it going to be just for your immediate family? Or are you planning on hosting larger gatherings from time to time that might necessitate an extendable dining table? Knowing how many people you need the table to comfortably seat, will help you narrow your search based on table size.
But should you buy the table or the chairs first? If you are shopping for the dining table and chairs online, the easiest way to do it would be to buy them together. You can either purchase a dining set where the table and chairs are included or often times online retailers will give suggestions on pieces that complement one another or “related products” that pair well with the collection you are considering.
Space it Out
Once you know how many people you want to seat at your table, you can start to narrow your dining table shopping based on table size. A good rule of thumb is to leave 30” – 36” between the edge of the table and the wall or walkway.
In terms of space per person, you typically want approximately 3-6” of space in between each chair. So in order to determine the table dimensions you need, take into account the width of the chairs you are are planning to purchase and add 3-6” on either side to determine the appropriate table dimensions.
Keep in mind that chairs with arms are generally wider so you can’t seat as many people with armchairs as you can with a more narrow chair. A very common set up is to place armchairs (or Captains chairs) at each end of the table (if you are using a rectangular table) and narrower chairs without arms on the sides.
Fixed vs. Extendible
When deciding between a fixed and extendable dining table there are a few key things to keep in mind. Fixed tables are superior from a design perspective. They will often have less visible hardware, and the lack of stored leaves will allow for a much cleaner look. Additionally, some extendible tables will use different materials for the leaves. This is a utilitarian choice, but often will not look as clean as a table top made from a single piece of wood, ceramic or marble. However, with limited space (especially if you live in the city!) it is simply not practical to have a very large dining table 100% of the time. Ultimately the decision comes down to your space and how often you will need the full size of the table.
Round Vs. Rectangular
Another big decision in purchasing a dining room table is if you should get a round or oval table versus a rectangular or square table. Some of this does come down to personal preference, but a lot of it depends on the size you need and the overall layout of the room.
Standard rectangular tables are the most common choice. You can’t go wrong with a rectangular shape. Often times rounded rectangular tables such as the Stratos work well in rooms with bowed/bay windows because the table will match the shape of the room. These are also great tables for families with kids because there are no sharp corners.
Circle or oval shaped tables can be more limiting, a 6’ diameter table can only fit about 6 – 8 people comfortably, and only a few come in extendible options.
Casa Spazio offers product design and space planning services. We can set up a home consultation to take all the necessary measurements of your space so that we can put together a floor plan and ultimately create a 3D rendering of your dining room. Even if you live outside of the Chicago area, we can create a floor plan from architectural drawings and photos of your home. You can always get in touch with us and we can model your dining room in 3d to see what table shape would be the best fit.
Choose Your Materials Wisely
Perhaps one of the most important decisions you make when shopping for a dining room table is what material should you choose: Wood, Ceramic, or Glass?
Wood is an excellent choice for a table top. It has a natural look with a universal appeal. There are mainly two types of wood table tops you will encounter when looking for a dining table: solid wood, and veneered wood. Veneered wood has a thin layer of real wood, which reduces price and weight. Solid wood is made of the same material throughout the table top. Veneered wood will typically be cheaper than solid wood. However, solid wood can be refinished, which makes it a better long term investment.
Wood tables are available in many different finishes which can dramatically change the character of the table. A walnut or oak top will have a transitional or even rustic feel, while a grey stained wood can feel very modern.
Ceramic is a very durable material and a great option for families with kids. It is non-porous which makes it easy to clean and maintain, and a fantastic alternative to a marble table top. Ceramic comes in many different varieties (see below) so there is a lot of opportunity for customization.
Ceramic is an extremely durable material and will resist most incidental damage. You can even cut and iron directly on the table top. Visit our blog here to learn more about ceramic table tops and how to care for them.
Glass table tops are more modern and easy to clean, however, they can chip and often show fingerprints and smudges. Despite what you might think, most glass table tops will not shatter. They are made from very durable tempered glass, built to avoid shattering. However, it’s worth checking with your salesperson to make sure that your new table will be made from tempered glass. There are three kinds of glass table tops: clear glass, painted glass, and acid treated glass.
Clear glass is a great choice for showing off the base of your table. It will often have a “lighter” feel in a room and is a great fit for areas with a view. However, this kind of glass is more likely to show smudges and fingerprints.
Painted glass can sometimes be cheaper than clear glass. It is available in many different colors and is a good choice in situations where you want a bit of extra color in a glass top. It can also be used if you want to block visibility of the table base or any connecting mechanisms or hardware.
Acid-treated glass such as on the Octa Dining Table is coated in a smooth surface with a semi-transparent finish. This coating resists minor scratches, smudges, and fingerprints which makes it an excellent low-maintenance choice. Aesthetically it has a softer, warmer, feel than a clear or painted glass top.
Modern Vs. Traditional
Once you’ve narrowed your online search for a dining room table based on size, shape, and material, you can narrow your options even further by focusing on the style you prefer.
Wood table tops can vary greatly in appearance depending on the particular finish used. Typically a wood top with natural coloring and prominent grain will feel transitional, and in some cases even rustic. These finishes can provide a warm and homey feel to your space. On the other hand, veneered woods and finishes that are black or anthracite can feel much more modern.
Glass and ceramic trend towards sleek, modern, and contemporary designs. But, with these materials a lot of their personality can come from the specific finish, and how it pairs with the base.
Over the past ten years more and more dining tables designs have moved towards a creative pedestal base over four individual legs. These new pedestal bases are often sculptural and artistic and embrace the idea of the dining table as a unique centerpiece for the room. Tables like Bonaldo’s Prora or Cattelan’s Domino will give your entire dining room a contemporary feel.
Traditional four-legged tables will offer a more classic silhouette. It is important to take into account the rest of your dining room when shopping for a table, as sometimes making a subtle choice will help bring out other details in your room.
Stay tuned for our next online furniture shopping guide! Over the course of the next few weeks, we will continue to bring you tips and strategies for shopping for furniture online, one room at a time.