It’s visualization time. Picture yourself in the following situation (and it’s definitely one that we’ve all been in at one time or another): You’re seated at a dinner party and you need to get up to go get another drink. But before you can get to it, you have to make the awkward squeeze between another guest’s chair and the wall. On the way out you’re wondering, “Can I even fit through that space without knocking her chair forward?” The way back is even worse because of the added possibility of spillage while squeezing through. I’m sure you get the picture; this situation is not fun for anyone involved.
Our two goals in arranging your dining room furniture are simple: One, leave plenty of space for people to move around comfortably without bumping into furniture. Two, make sure your table and chairs are good fits for each other (in height and width), so that there’s no unintentional knee-grazing or elbow-bumping.
Pay close attention to the tips below, and together we’ll make sure that the awkward squeeze scenario never happens in your dining room.
Take time out for art. Make a detailed scale drawing of the room you are going to use the dining table in. Next, draw scaled cutouts of the items already in the room so that you can try out different furniture arrangements.
Measure, measure, measure. There’s no need for your dining area to be crammed. Take stock of how much room you have, and make sure you get the dining room table that best fits that space.
- A good rule of thumb is to leave 5-6 feet from the edge of the table to the wall. Half of that space is needed for guests to scoot their chairs out, and the other half is necessary as a traffic lane around the table for serving or moving about. Bear in mind that armchairs take up a little more space than chairs without arms.
- The table length and width you need depends on how many people you want to comfortably seat. The average diner needs 22 inches of space above the table (body + elbow room) and 14 inches of dining table depth under the table.
- A comfortable dining room table height is typically 28-30 inches above the floor. The optimal height for a dining chair seat is 11-13 inches from beneath the top of the dining table. A standard dining chair is usually 18-20 inches from the seat to the floor.
Think about the future. Now that you’ve done your measuring and made your scale drawings, here’s one last bit of food for thought: Will there be occasions where you want to seat more people than your table typically allows? If so, in allotting your dining room space, think about whether or not you have room for a table that expands or has a larger, removable tabletop.