Dining Tables: What Size Should They Be?

My Dining room has a 48 inch diameter table which sits four with ease, and six when necessary.
My Dining room has a 48 inch diameter table which sits four with ease, and six when necessary. | Source

Dining Tables for Entertaining

If you’ve made the decision that you want to entertain, you’ll most likely need a dining table. Few of us have space for a banquet, so the usual advice is to choose a table large enough to seat the family, plus two. For families with children, that usually means a table for 6-8. If there’s just two of you, a table for 4-6 will do perfectly.

How Big a Table Do I Need for 4-6 People?

Tables for 4-6 people

Round - between 44 and 54 inches in diameter - that's 3’8” to 4’6”
Oval - 36 inches wide by 56 inches long (that's 8”)
Rectangular 36 by 60 (that's
Square Table 3’ - 4’ square to seats 4 people. Get one that extends for maximum versatility.

How Big a Table Do I Need to Seat 8 or More?

Tables Sizes for 6-8 people

Round - 54 - 72” Diameter (4’6” to 6’)
Oval 36” by 72” (3’ by 6’)
Rectangular 36” by 78” (that's 6”)

When the family expands you’ll need something larger if you plan to entertain your children and their families. To seat 8-10 you’ll need something which takes up a lot of space. You might like to start out with a 3’ diameter round table which expands - a table 3’ by 7’ will seat 8-10.

How Much Space Do I Need for the Chairs?

But the size of the table isn’t the end of the story. You need space for chairs and to sit and move around the table comfortably.

As a general rule you need about 36 inches (3’) of space for a chair. It won’t take up that much space when drawn up to the table, but you need to be able to push the chair back to get up.

Hence a 48 inch diameter round table actually needs a space 10’ square.

When You Don't Have Enough Space

So, what do you do if you don’t have room for the size of table you need? Well, that depends on the type of entertaining you do.

  • Buy a table that fits in your room, but can be expanded if necessary.
  • Look for other spaces in your home where you could put a large table on a temporary basis, and buy a folding table you can store in the garage until you need it. You may find you can push a sofa against the wall and bring out a table for a special occasion
  • Do most of your celebrating outside on the deck or in the garden.
  • Be a little crowded now and then. I have 48 inch table which is ideal for four, but a little cramped for six. I could buy a larger table, but it would not fit my dining room so well, so when I want to seat six people I have them sit a little closer than might be ideal. A 48 inch table has a circumference of 150 inches, which provides 24 inches for each guest.

Where There's a Will There's a Way

My first home had three rooms, two bedrooms and a living room which was just large enough for a sofa and a 3’ diameter round table. It was ideal. When we moved into our first house we had more rooms, but not single large space and no dining room. There was nowhere for the table. How could we entertain? Rather than sit down for our meals we ate buffet style. The food was set out on the kitchen counter, guests helped themselves, stood, chatted or sat in our living room. When it was warm enough we ate at a large table beneath a pergola in our tiny garden, and after a couple of years we added a sunroom which became our dining area. Over many years and at many, moves, I’ve learned that there is always a way to entertain, so never let lack of space discourage you from spending time with old friends and making new ones.

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