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Laying Out a Dining Room Area: Tips for Planning Your Layout

Laying Out a Dining Room Area: Tips for Planning Your Layout | Alabama Sawyer

January 29, 2022

Your dining room bears a special role in the life of your home and family. Bread is broken, relationships built and memories made. No other room is quite as closely related to our social side as the dining room. 

Whether it be in passing: brief moments here and there, or to full effect for a formal family function - your dining room and table need to be well suited to your lifestyle. To that end, the layout of the room is crucial, so we’ll be walking you through some tips, tricks, and ideas for setting up your dining room just right. 

Here’s a hint - getting the dining room right really means knowing that the centerpiece of the room must perfectly blend form and function. 

Let’s begin with what will surely prove to be the most sizable question of the whole project:

How Big Does My Dining Room Table Need to Be?

This decision is going to influence almost every other subsequent choice you make, so it will pay off to carefully consider your needs at this point. 

Determining the size of your dining room table is going to mean asking a few more questions such as: How do you or your family like to use the dining room? Is it a hub for large family gatherings? Standing room for drinks and banter? 

If you have a big family that likes to have dinner together nightly or weekly then a harvest table or large-sized dining table might be something to consider. Something with room for those taco and pizza nights!  

Small families might enjoy saving space with a smaller size of dining table - especially if living in an apartment with less space. A quality dining table that seats 2- 4 shouldn’t take up too much space. Depending on the shape of the room, a round table can be a very efficient way to save space and maximize seating.

Love to entertain? You’re going to get a lot more use out of a larger-sized dining table - but for bigger crowds, make sure you’ve got the space to mingle, as well. This brings us to our next consideration for laying out the room. 

By the Numbers: A Few Dining Room Layout Guidelines 

The trick to laying out your dining room and dining table is to use the room while leaving space, and where-possible creating smaller sub-spaces. We’re going to get into a few example ideas of what we mean by that below, but first, let’s talk numbers. 

We’d suggest sizing table capacities at approximately 24 inches per person. For example, a rectangular dining table that is 72 inches long will seat three people per long side.  

It will help to use a measuring tape, and we’d suggest some masking or painter’s tape as well. You can use these tools to layout a mockup on the floor of your dining room before you ever spend a dime. 

Leave at least three or four feet between the edge of the walls and entrance to the room, at a bare minimum (where possible). People need room to sit and to exit gracefully and carry dishes in and out, in most cases. 

Likewise, if you plan to use a rug - be sure to get a rug that is large enough to accommodate the tables with the chairs pulled back to sit. These details all make a difference in how the room can be used. 

A good example of this is the shape of the table you choose. We’ll list out the key features of different shapes and styles below. 

Advantages of Different Dining Table Shapes

Rectangular & Square Dining Tables

Rectangular tables tend to be the more space-efficient of the two. Many rectangular and square tables are extendable, using a leaf or multiple leaves. An adaptable table is often an ideal solution for families who like to entertain on occasion but have limited space to work with. These are the most commonly used as they are generally the best fit for rooms that are commonly a similar shape. 

Round and Oval Dining Tables

If you plan on using your dining room area to play board games or card games, a round table is an ideal choice. We don’t normally suggest cutting corners, but putting a round or oval table into a square room is a great way to save space and maximize seating—and you can see everyone at the table a bit easier. Depending on your family dynamics, this can be a good or a not so great thing. It’s your call. 

Live Edge Dining Tables

The natural edge or live edge of a wood slab table or dining table can vary, so the pros and cons very from table to table. A more dramatic edge provides and dramatic design statement. But customers are often concerned it will be uncomfortable for their guests or create an awkward seating situation or unequal distances between guests across the table.

My answer to that is that it's up to you and your personal style of design and entertaining. I am often asked for a live edge that is natural but not "too natural." We can soften and edge. We also always remove the bark, because it's going to come off later and bring the finish with it, so it's not a great idea to leave it on.

Customers often ask for a live edge table that is a certain width, which is harder to come by since trees to not grow to requested diameters. This is where a book match live edge table or a series of wide planks is a great solution.

Table Base Styles

Parsons Style Table

Traditional Four Leg Table

Does a leg-style table really need an introduction? This standard style is by far the most common and is functionally fantastic. Stable, with great legroom, this design can be played with and expanded on, as well.

Pedestal Table Legs

You’re typically only going to see these on round-style tables, but not always! They are ideal for legroom, though they can be a little less stable than a wide-legged table. 

Trestle Style Table

These are a little less legroom-friendly, however, it is a beautiful and distinguished, classic design. Where elegance is the priority, you may opt for this style. 

Options and Ideas for All Sized Dining Rooms

Design for Smaller Dining Rooms

Minimalist design is a contemporary style that uses fewer pieces. By removing anything unnecessary to the function of the area, this ultra-sharp, modern style of layout maximizes function in smaller rooms. 

The clean design style means that urban wood species such as walnut, driftwood, or white oak add a natural tactile to a clean ‘negative space’ if you will. The resulting contrast is functional and strikingly beautiful. 

Design for Larger Dining Rooms

If you are fortunate enough to have a large dining room, then the world’s your oyster. 

It’s possible to get multiple pieces into a large space without crowding it. You could experiment with the idea of adding something similar to our Spider Table or Mason Table - a narrow console table to serve as a bar or buffet. Go a little deeper and add doors or drawers for a cabinet / credenza to store serving pieces as well.

Likewise, if you want to entertain, you can set up a small coffee or side table and low chairs at the end of the room. A perfect place to sit, rest, digest, have a nightcap or dessert and socialize after a big meal with friends or family. 

Ultimately, the process of laying out a dining room is going to revolve around your tastes and how you want to use the room. Don’t be afraid to get creative and don’t forget to have fun with it!