Which Dining Room Table Shape Should You Choose?
Rectangular, oval, round or square? Here are some ways to choose your dining table shape (or make the most of one you already have)
A rectangular table is the most traditional of choices but works just as well in a modern setting as it does in one that’s steeped in history.
MAKE IT BETTER: If your space lends itself to a rectangular table, don’t be afraid of choosing one that’s on the narrow side. Even a table that’s 70 centimetres wide will allow space for shared dishes in the middle of the table and, best of all, will bring your dining mates closer together. The danger in having a rectangular table that’s also on the wide side is that it will feel overly formal and impersonal, rather than the warm and welcoming space you want it to be.
MAKE IT BETTER: If you need to be able to feed a lot of people regularly, you can make it feel less like a boardroom set-up by choosing more casual chairs. Or opt for an extendable table that can shrink to cosier proportions for everyday use. There’s nothing intimate about eating dinner with empty chairs your only companions.
Chair, Vitra Panton.
MAKE IT BETTER: If you can position the table in a sunny or light-filled nook, your dining area will inevitably become the place people are also drawn to for cups of tea, reading the paper and working on the laptop. And there’s just something lovely about that.
No.18 chairs, Thonet Bentwood.
MAKE IT BETTER: The trick to squashing a table into limited space is creating the illusion that it hasn’t been squashed in at all. Choose a table that’s small enough to allow at least a metre of free space around it, more if it’s a thoroughfare.
MAKE IT BETTER: If you’re in the market for a new rectangular table, you’ll be spoilt for choice – it’s the go-to shape for most people, after all. With so many options on offer, why not use the table as a way to add punch to your home? This table’s chunky, rounded legs are a far more interesting choice than one with the square or turned table legs we’ve come to expect.
Big Foot table, Daast.
MAKE IT BETTER: If your table is rectangular and there are lots of other straight lines and sharp angles in the same space, soften the effect with plants.
See how you can feature houseplants in your home
Oval tables can bring a sense of occasion to any meal, whether you’re dining just with the family or want to impress your guests.
MAKE IT BETTER: Pedestal table legs solve the leg-banging issue and are ideally suited to oval tables. Pedestal legs can make an ordinary oval table decorative and traditional…
MAKE IT BETTER: Simple stools can be a good choice for small spaces; they can be tucked away under tables of any shape when not in use. This will not only give those working in the kitchen some room to move, but also open the space up visually.
Charles Ghost mid stool, Phillippe Starck.
A round table is the best choice for those who want to encourage closeness and conversation among family and friends. Everyone can see and hear each other in this set-up and shared dishes are easy to reach. Compare this to a dinner party at a rectangular table where you’re stuck talking to the people on either side of you even when you’ve run out of things to talk about, and the mashed potato you want more of is right down the other end of the table.
MAKE IT BETTER: If you want to fit more than four people at a round table, it will need to be at least 150 centimetres in diameter. If your space can only accommodate a table that’s about 120 centimetres (any smaller and things will start to feel cramped), consider a round table that can be extended to become an oval when you need it to.
Moulded Plastic Eiffel Base side chair, Eames.
A square-shaped table is a contemporary choice that can make the conversation easier, but it does have a few downsides. A square table tends to take up a vast amount of room – more than you think it will – and although it allows everyone seated at the table to see each other, the distance from one side of the table to the other means they may not be able to hear each other particularly well when there are numerous conversations going on at once. Also, unless you have a Lazy Susan in the middle, passing food from one side of the table to the other usually involves a dish having to circumnavigate the table for it to arrive at the desired location.
Moulded Plywood lounge chair, Eames.
MAKE IT BETTER: Curved, comfortable chairs will soften those hard edges. Also consider adding a round centrepiece to balance the angles of a square table – a round bowl piled high with fruit, a voluptuous vase filled with flowers and leaves or even a shapely sculpture will do the job nicely.
Browse 10 modern centrepieces
How do you make your dining table work in your space? Share your tips and photos in the Comments below.