Kitchen and dining room tables – types, shapes, materials and styles
Kitchen and dining room tables are important pieces of furniture for every home and the place where the whole family gathers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, where we often entertain guests, arrange friendly gatherings, romantic evenings or celebrations of birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and other festive occasions. It is a centerpiece of any kitchen and dining room design and choosing the right table can be a challenge because the market offers numerous options and the choices are, practically, endless.
In modern open plan living spaces the kitchen and dining room tables are visible from every area and whether big or small, they have to correspond to the overall design concept, blending with the rest of the home decor yet adding to the visual aesthetics of the interior. How to choose the perfect table? There is not an answer to this question as homes reflect the personality of their owners, their taste and individuality, lifestyle and preferences. However, we shall look at the different types of modern kitchen and dining room tables, the various shapes, the most popular materials and styles and we shall give you some useful tips which will help you find the best table for your home.
Kitchen and dining room tables combining functionality and visual appeal
When shopping for kitchen and dining room tables we want them to meet a number of criteria like functionality and visual appeal. Providing a comfortable seating is one of the most important qualities of any kitchen and dining room table.
Moisture resistance is another important quality which strongly depends on the material. When the table is resistant to moisture, it will last longer and will serve you for many years. You know that spills can ruin the appearance of any table and any housewife wipes it with a moistened towel, which makes this quality especially important.
Environmental friendliness is another important quality for dining tables as you serve food, you put cutlery, bread, etc. Choosing a dining table made of toxic materials or materials containing dangerous components, is out of the question as it can be hazardous or harmful for your health and the health of your family.
Sometimes the table performs multiple functions – it is the place where you dine, but also the place where children do their homework. Practicality and functionality are also important as well as durability and reliability. Pay attention to the base of the table. Pedestal tables, standard four leg tables, crossed legs options, modern artistic designs – there are many choices so you need to be careful which one is the best for you. The table must be stable and the base plays an important role.
The style of the table – traditional, industrial, rustic, contemporary, modern, minimalist, Shabby chic or any other style – has to work with the rest of the design elements in the room. A minimalist table will look out of place in a rustic interior, as well as artistic models with unusual shapes. For a traditional home decor choose a table made of dark wood and carved legs, if you want decorative details. Modern and minimalist interiors will benefit from tables with simple, clean lines while a table from solid wood with antiqued or time-worn look is an excellent choice for rustic and country styled homes. Of course, there are brilliant table designs which feature amazing shapes, modern materials and are products of incredible artistic inspiration. Such tables are suitable for people who would like to have a unique piece of furniture showing their taste and individuality.
How to choose the color of a dining table? We mentioned style, but color is also important. When you want a harmonious interior it is necessary to choose the right color combinations of all elements of furniture, textiles, decoration and decor in the room and the dining table in the kitchen should fit perfectly not only in style, but also in color. Very often designers and decorators make the dining table the main accent of the room by using contrast colors. For example – a bright orange table surrounded by white chairs will definitely attract your eyes. Obviously, the colors should work together so that the overall impression is harmonious to the eye, even if you create color contrast they should not be irritating.
How to choose the size and shape of kitchen and dining room tables?
Choosing the size and shape of kitchen and dining room tables will depend on a number of considerations – the available space, for example, as well as the shape of the room itself. You need to foresee enough room for moving around the table. Comfortable seating and easy getting up from the table are essential, so you need to do some measuring. Table to wall clearance should be between 42-48″ (106-120 cm.) and if you have any furniture pieces like a credenza, a buffet or a cupboard, you should start the measuring from the edge of the furniture.
Another important consideration for the right size of a dining table is the individual space for each guest. A minimum of 24″ (60 cm.) is required for each person. It is better if you have 30″ (75 cm.) as extra elbow room so that the diners feel more comfortable. Lap and leg room is another factor to keep in mind, so choose the base of the table carefully. While pedestal base tables offer more leg room, designs with crossed legs may cause inconvenience. Consider the height of your table, as well. Typically, dining tables are manufactured with a standard height of 30″ (75 cm.) and the general rule is that you need at least 12″(305 cm.) between the seat of the chair and the tabletop.
Choosing the shape of kitchen and dining room tables will also be determined by the available space, the shape of the room and your personal taste and preferences. Tables come in round, oval, square and rectangular shapes, as well as triangular.
Rectangular dining tables are a timeless classic and obviously, the most popular type. It is functional and homeowners prefer the rectangular shape for its functionality. The clean straight lines work with any interior style – from rustic to minimalist. The fact that most dining rooms have a rectangular shape is another reason for the popularity of rectangular tables. In addition, they can accommodate a large number of people, especially if you have opted for an extendable model.
Round dining tables come second in popularity and many people prefer the round shape as it is space saving and round tables are more compact than rectangular ones which makes them ideal for small rooms. This is the best choice when you want to create a more intimate atmosphere for small gatherings because the round shape helps people feel cozier, everyone can see everyone else and it is easier for the guests to talk to each other. Large round tables, however, could be inconvenient and not a suitable option if you wanted to host a larger number of guests. Despite that people will see each other it will be more difficult to interact and your guests may have to shout across the table to be heard. Further to that, large round tables occupy a lot of space and the room may appear cluttered, so it will be a good idea if you chose an extendable model which will not take from the floor space of the room and can be extended, if needed.
Oval dining tables offer the convenience of rectangular ones and the elegance of rounded corners. They look visually smaller and are a good choice for narrow rooms. Oval varieties provide more seating space than round. Many round models have an extension leaf which turns them into oval which is a good solution for small spaces.
Square dining tables have their pros and cons as well. Large models accommodate more people but appear huge and take up a lot of room space. People can easily see each other but they may have difficulties interacting with the guests seated at the opposite side. Smaller sizes offer compactness and experts advise to opt for this shape when you need to accommodate four to six people and create a more intimate atmosphere. Most models can be extended and turned into a rectangular table which is a great solution when you need to seat more people.
Triangular dining tables are not as popular as rectangular or round alternatives, but they are a good idea for small rooms or rooms with unusual shape. The visual appeal of these designs may seem unusual but depending on the size they can be compact and space saving.
Dining tables with unusual shapes are usually custom made and you can find different models designed by famous artists and furniture makers. You may be a fan of futuristic dining tables, for example which are ideal for contemporary and high-tech interiors so choosing a unique design will add to the individuality and the character of your home.
How to choose the material of kitchen and dining room tables?
Once you have chosen the shape and size of your table you need to choose the material. As we mentioned above the material of kitchen and dining room tables is the main factor that determines the quality and lifespan. We shall look at the advantages and disadvantages of most popular materials and how solid wood, reclaimed wood, glass, natural stone or plastic can be incorporated in home interiors.
Wood kitchen and dining table is the most popular choice and for a good reason. Kitchen tables made of natural wood never go out of fashion and are always a top choice as they work with any design style and interior color schemes. The major advantages of solid wood is that it adds warmth to the room, and its natural look has a timeless appeal. The unique grain patterns add texture and character and wood easily works with any other material – glass, metal, fabrics, etc. This is an eco-friendly material, fully recyclable and the market offers a huge variety of models manufactured from different wood species – hardwood or softwood or composite wood.
Most popular hardwood species include mahogany, walnut, oak, ash, birch, maple, and cherry while softwood includes pine, spruce, cedar, fir, larch, etc. Hardwood furniture pieces are long lasting but more expensive compared to the softwood and composite wood alternatives. The options for finishes, staining, even painting are numerous and you will definitely find the exact color that you need. Live edge dining tables have a striking appearance and are made of solid wood which adds greatly to the atmosphere of the room.
Many people opt for reclaimed wood projects as it has a special charm and history. Usually it is sourced from barns, factories and industrial buildings and has unique dents, nicks and cracks. Reclaimed wood successfully disguises signs of wear and use and does not change its color due to the fact that wood has been in use for more than 100 years.
Dining tables made of composite wood products like plywood, MDF, and particle board/chipboard and covered with wood veneer are an affordable alternative to solid wood. High end models, however, may have a hefty price tag, especially when the table is covered with high quality veneer.
When you choose a dining table made of wood, you need to keep in mind that it expands and contracts and can be damaged by heat and moisture. The surface can be scratched easily and the scratches are visible, especially on stained wood. The good news is that the surface can be sanded and re-stained. Another consideration that you need to know is that with age, wood will change its color and everyone who has such a table knows that it requires careful cleaning and maintenance.
Glass kitchen and dining tables are very practical and add a sleek and modern appearance to any room. They look light and the room appears larger and more spacious. Glass tables are very easy to clean and have a high resistance to heat and moisture. You can place a beautiful rug which will be visible or choose an original base or chairs to add extra charm to your home decor. Glass is a versatile material which works with wood, metal, stone and depending on your existing decor you can choose a combination which meets your requirements and reflects your personal taste. Glass tops come in different shapes and designs – round, rectangular, oval – and you can even opt for a colored glass. These tables are a good choice for interiors in modern, hi-tech, minimalist, Mediterranean style as well as for traditional home decors.
As many advantages that glass tables have to offer, they have a number of disadvantages. Fingerprints and stains are clearly visible and the surface can be scratched or chipped. Glass feels cold to the touch and cannot offer the charm and warmth of natural wood. You need to carefully choose the type of glass, as there are different varieties and they have different properties. The best option is to go for tempered glass which is durable and withstands a large load but comes at a higher price. However, families with children will not worry that the children will be exposed to danger as the glass top may break. Glass dining tables are not maintenance free. They need to be wiped constantly from glass marks, fingerprints, dust, etc.
Advantages and disadvantages of stone dining tables
The tabletop of a dining table can be made of granite, marble, quartz, etc. This is a popular option in kitchens where kitchen islands are designed to provide comfortable seating for dining. Granite dining tables are extremely stable and reliable models with a solid look. Despite that this is an unusual choice, this option is often seen in contemporary open plan living space as natural stone is very presentable and monumental. Typically such designs are custom made to match the overall interior design concept and color scheme. Natural stone works beautifully with metal like stainless steel in contemporary interiors.
Granite is durable, easy to clean, resistant to heat, bacteria, mold and long lasting. Tables with stone tops are trendy, and you can choose from a variety of finishes – polished, honed, leathered, etc. but you need to keep in mind that granite is porous, can be stained and requires sealing and re-sealing to maintain its perfect look. Another disadvantage is that granite has a significant weight which means that is is almost impossible to move such a table, the stone feels cold to the touch and despite that the daily maintenance does not require more than a wipe with a damp cloth, harsh, acidic and aggressive chemicals must not be used to remove stains. The high price is another consideration as these models cost more than alternative options.
Quartz tabletops are a good alternative which offers a sleek and modern appearance. Unlike granite which varies in color from slab to slab, quartz has a consistent color and pattern. It is a non-porous material and will not absorb stains. Quartz is very durable and almost maintenance free. It does not require sealing but can be scratched or chipped. If exposed to direct sunlight you may notice a discoloration. The heavy weight is another disadvantage which means that your table will need a suitable base to support the weight.
Marble tabletops make any dining area appear elegant and luxurious. Rich and sophisticated it is a beautiful surface with unique veining and patterns which vary from subtle to dramatic. Marble adds a ton of charm and chic and will never go out of style. It can be used in many different decor styles – contemporary, modern, traditional, etc. Marble is very durable and long lasting provided it is properly maintained.
Those who are attracted to the idea of a marble dining table should keep in mind that despite its density and durability, marble is a soft stone, and like most natural stones, it is porous which means it can be stained and scratched. Marble can be stained by wine, coffee, grease, even by many household cleaners. It doesn’t bear temperature differences very well so you should avoid placing hot or icy cold pots and pans directly on the marble table top. It has to be sealed and re-sealed once a year and requires more maintenance, compared to glass or wood alternatives. The good news is that a professional can restore the initial beauty of marble surfaces.
Plastic dining tables are one of the least expensive options. They are affordable, comfortable and an excellent solution if you are on a budget. These tables are lightweight and can be easily moved, come in a variety of colors and can be used as accents in the interior. Plastic tables are resistant to water, they do not crack and are easily maintained. In addition, the material is versatile and recyclable. On the downside one can point out that plastic tables lack the elegance and charm of wood and glass, they cannot offer the same lifespan or durability. The material is artificial and far from being eco-friendly and is not bio degradable.
You could opt for an acrylic dining table which is quite a popular choice as it has the look of glass and has the same modern appearance. One of the major advantages of clear acrylic tables is that they are transparent and you can see through them, which makes them a good option for small dining rooms and kitchens.