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Achieving an effective dining room design can be a little tricky. However, one of the easiest changes you can make is swapping out your furniture; as the focal point of the room, your table should be your biggest investment. Take time to consider various furniture pieces and what works best for your needs. Don’t be afraid to splurge — a good table can last you decades! Once you have this cornerstone piece figured out, you can then focus on the dining room decor and storage options.

What kind of dining room would You get?

Dining areas come in all shapes and sizes, as do their accompanying tables. As you browse dining tables, consider a few things. What is your dining room layout? How often do you entertain? How many people usually attend? What kind of events do you like organizing - big dinners or intimate gatherings? What kind of dining rooms are you personally drawn to at other homes? If you don’t host anything because you are hindered by your current dining room design, consider what kind of soirees you would ideally throw and work from there.

If you want a table with options, purchase one with a leaf so you can accommodate varying numbers of guests. Keep in mind that to ensure visitors won’t be bumping elbows with their fellow dinner guests, each person needs about two feet of eating space (typically the table manufacturer will be able to recommend the amount of people that can comfortably sit at the table).

In terms of shapes, round tables are optimal for smaller spaces. They fit into tight areas and have no sharp corners to bump into when you’re serving a hot casserole or pouring a glass of water. Round pedestal tables are also useful alternatives - they offer more legroom than conventional designs. For a larger space, a square table works well, and a rectangular table is ideal for a long, narrow room.

No matter shape, size or material, make sure you measure table-to-wall clearance. To do this, measure the space around the room. Try to leave 42-48" between your table and the walls so diners can sit down and get up easily from their chairs. If there is furniture in the dining space, begin your 42-48” measurement from the edge of the furniture instead of the wall.