Jan 22, 2014

Dining Room Table Shapes

What's the best shape for a dining room table? 

We're having the hardest time trying to answer that question.

I currently have this 54-inch round drop leaf table in my dining room. We keep four chairs around it and pull two more of the black chairs up to it for seating six when the kids come for dinner. If we want even more seating, there are four leaves that turn the table into an oval that can seat ten. 


The problems I have with this table (and admittedly they're small problems) are that it's a bit wide for the room, it's impossible to find or sew nice tablecloths to fit it, I find it difficult to style it when we're not actually eating at it, and when we're not sitting at it, it doesn't look very good with six chairs around it because of the awkward placement of the legs. Also, the colonial drop leaf style isn't my favorite. In fact, until I stained the orange-ish maple top with an English Chestnut stain and painted the bottom black, I really disliked it. It's a family heirloom, so I'll never give it up. I just don't know if I want it in my dining room. 

To see if we'd prefer a rectangular table, I cut a piece of cardboard into a 42-inch by 72- inch piece and laid it on top of our table with the leaves dropped. These bottom two photos are from my phone, so they're a little distorted, but you can get the gist of it. As you can see, six chairs fit fine around this shape, and it would be great not to have to keep pulling the extra chairs up to the table only when we need them, like we do now. This shape is in better proportion to our rug and the rectangular shape of the dining room, too. It takes up more of the length of the room instead of the width of it, edging out more towards the entryway and kitchen. It definitely fills up more of the room in exchange for the practicality of having six chairs around it.

I think I'm more confused than ever!

 Right now, we're just trying to decide on the shape of the table. We'll try walking around this cardboard "table" for a bit to see if there's enough room on the sides, and we'll get used to the look of it. Once we've made a decision about the table, we'll decide on whether to keep or replace the chairs, too.

We've always had this round table in this dining room, and, honestly, we could keep living with it just the way it is and be happy. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time making this decision! But I keep picturing a fringed burlap runner on my dream rustic farmhouse table with a long wooden box full of hydrangeas sitting on top of it. 

I would love to hear your opinions about this. What shape is your dining room table? Are there pros and cons to different shapes, and do you think one shape is better than another? Do you think my round American colonial table fits in okay with my vintage rustic farmhouse dream home, or should I throw caution to the wind and buy a new one?

    Thanks for joining me on my quest for the perfect dining room table!


  1. Hi Laurel, I happen to have both styles of tables. We have a 60" round off the kitchen but with a center pedestal so we don't have to worry about legs getting in the way of chairs. In our dining room I have the rectangular table which is about the same size as the mock one you made. My only wish is that our table was narrower and a bit longer. I think it's a great advantage to be able to seat three on each side comfortably and it would be nice having a bit more space behind the chairs. Both of your options would be great in your space. I do love round tables for conversation and playing board games. Perhaps you can find another place in your home for the round table too. Good luck in your decision process!

  2. I have a round table that turns into an oval. I think it is the same size. I think I have a similar issue. If I didn't like my table so much, I might try something different. My kitchen is mostly open to the dining room. I sometimes have considered an island type table so we could work and eat when needed, but I'm worried about the weight it would have in the room. Right now it is light and airy and I do like a spacious look. Recently, I did see something interesting that caught my eye: two backless benches on the long sides. It makes it easy to walk by. But then their is the issue of my pretty chairs!

  3. First of all, I do love round tables for conversation but after seeing your cardboard version in the rectangle, I like the way that shape works in the room. I laughed when I saw how you put the cardboard on there because that is something I would do. In fact, I put a cardboard desk in my office when I was trying to decide how that size would work. Just go with your gut and don't feel like you "should" do something. Love the walls in that room by the way...

  4. I once read at BHG that in choosing a dining table you have to go with the shape of your room e.g. rectangular room = rectangular table and so on.In our breakfast nook, we have sort of a square room, but instead of keeping our rectangular one, we opted or a circle one 60" to be exact, truly big, but we have the space and inspite of using 4 chairs daily, it can comfortably sit 6 when needed. However I can see your dilemma with the round one. But since it has leaves, it is a very versatile table then! I suggest you keep 1 or 2 leaves on, live with it or a while, before you decide on getting rectangular one in the end! Good luck with your decision Laurel!

  5. I honestly like both the round and the rectangle table in your room. I got rid of our round table because the leaves were so heavy it took 2 people to carry each one downstairs to the dining room. And the pedestal made seating 6 or 8 people awkward. I bought a 42" square vintage table that expands to 92 inches and is on casters with a 5th leg in the middle so the table doesn't sag. I'm very happy with my decision and it takes just minutes to extend the table when we need it!
    I made a cardboard and plywood island for our kitchen before I purchased a free-standing one I was considering, and thank goodness! It would have been way to big for the room!

    Your room is beautiful!

  6. I love round tables because they seem more intimate to me; but I have never had one. However, when I saw your photo of the rectangular one I really do like the look of it in the photo you have shown. I have a big rectangular table that fits 4 on each side and one or two on each end. It is about 43 by 80. But I do wish it was narrower! It is a hair wide for our space---but then again it gives us plenty of room for food and jigsaw puzzles, lol. Mine has a section I can take out--but as you have said if you have all those chairs then you might as well put them around the table and leave it large.

  7. We just made a larger tabletop for our existing table and are thrilled with it.

    We had a round table, but it was too large for the room.

    What a clever idea to used cardboard to get a feel for the rectangular shape.

  8. I love both styles of tables, but I think in your space a rectangular one would work quite well. They always say farmhouse to me and a long box full of hydrangeas would be lovely as well! Love your dining area!

  9. I know nothing about design/decor, but I know what I like. I like the shape of the rectangular (cardboard) table. LOVE that you did a "dry run". I've done it many times with other things. I have to live with something first to see if I like it too.

    Thinking ... I don't think you mentioned this? keeping your base, and just replacing the top of the table. Would that work? Perhaps you could store the original top for future generations to change it back if they prefer?? Maybe the base wouldn't look right, but like I said, I know little about those things.


  10. Hi Laurel,
    I had a 60" round with leaves for years. Seating was good but when we bought new dining furniture I went with a rectangle trestle table. It seats 6 with lots of room and the ends pull out to add leaves for a seating for 12. I really love the rectangle for all the reasons you stated - tablecloths, chair space not to mention those small corners add good space to the tabletop.

    Gail (above me) has a great idea in changing the tabletops. Certainly worth looking into.

  11. Laurel,
    I do like the table you have, but for the room shape, the rug shape and the comfort of the seating for everyone, I would consider the rectangle shape. Using the cardboard is a great idea to get a feel for the room and the change a different table top size would make. Can you remove the old tabletop and possibly find some reclaimed wood boards to use or distress and stain some to tie in with the kitchen countertops?

  12. I would use the cardboard or painters tape to get a feel for what you really want. Tank your time so you have no regrets. I like the idea of using the base and distressing or aging the wood on t op to work with the counters. Whatever you choose will be fine.


  13. Love the look of the cardboard table shape in your room. I'm going through the same conversation with myself right now. Our round/oval table is just too bulky and wrong for our chairs. I'd rather change the table than the chairs. Will be watching what you decide to help me make my decision.

  14. I agree with you. I think a small rectangular dining room table would be perfect for your space!

    For my small dining room at my previous home in Austin, I searched and searched and searched for an antique round table in good condition. I was able to find ONE that I just loved at an antique show, but it had already sold, darn it. They are so hard to find! Fortunately, an oblong table I found for under $200 worked just fine. I have it for sale now and need to list it on Etsy!


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