Dining table and dining chair buying guide

Shopping for a new dining table or dining chairs? Take a look at our handy guide for everything you need to know about buying a dining table and dining chairs, from style and design to shape and size.

Finding the perfect fit

The size of your dining table or dining set depends on two factors - the size of your dining room and the size of your family. For practicality, it's generally a good idea to choose the largest dining table you can afford unless you're planning on downsizing in the near future.

Dining set size

As different brands have different ways of describing dining tables - small, medium and large, or two seater, four seater and so on - it's always a good idea to check the actual measurements of any dining set you're considering.

Small dining tables and chairs

Small dining tables, including bar tables, usually seat two to four people. They're a great choice if you're just starting out, especially if you don't have a separate dining room.

Medium dining tables and chairs

Probably the most popular size of dining table, medium dining tables seat four to six people. They're great for family mealtimes as well as doing homework and reading the Sunday papers.

Large dining tables and chairs

If you have a spacious dining room or kitchen diner, opt for a large dining table that seats six to eight people and look forward to hosting big groups and family parties.

Extending dining table and chairs

An extending dining table is a great solution if you occasionally need a larger dining table. Depending on its size, an extendable dining table can seat eight, ten or more with ease.

Important measurements

Buying the wrong size of dining table - or the wrong number of dining chairs - is a very expensive mistake. Measure carefully so that you make best use of all available space without your dining room feel cramped and overcrowded.

Measuring dining tables

Table length: Measure from one end of the table to the other. Allow a minimum of 60 cm per diner for cosy dining. For little more elbow room, allow 80 cm per person.

Table width: Measure across the table. Make sure any table you choose is at least 90 cm wide. Anything less and there won't be enough space for everyone to dine comfortably, especially if you want to serve from the table.

Table inside length: To calculate how many dining chairs will fit along your table, measure the long side from the inside surface of one leg to the inside surface of the opposite leg.

Measuring dining chairs

Total chair height: Measure from the top of the dining chair's backrest to the floor. Taller dining chairs look more formal. Shorter chairs will make the room feel a bit more open.

Seat height: Measure from the seat to the floor. This is usually about 45 cm. You'll want to a gap of at least 25 cm between the seat and the underside of your table.

Seat width: Measure from one side of the seat to the other, including any arms. This tells you how many chairs will fit side by side along the length of your dining table.

Seat depth: Measure from the front edge of the seat to the very back of the seat. Too narrow or too deep might be uncomfortable for diners with average leg length.

Backrest height: Measure from the bottom of the backrest to its top. Backrest height makes a difference to how much lumbar support a dining chair offers.

Make sure there's room for everyone

Be sure to allow about 15 cm of elbow room between each dining chair, and a minimum of 90 cm between the table edge and the wall for furniture like sideboards and display cabinets. This will give diners enough room to push back their chairs and walk around the table.