Advice on Buying Dining Room Furniture

Advice on buying dining room furniture is often ignored when people visit a furniture showroom and see all these wonderful dining room arrangements. "Oh - I must have that," and "WOW - wouldn't that look great in our house" are often heard by those that know better.

Here is some advice on avoiding allowing your eyes to buy for you, only to find your choices do not look as good in your own home as they did in the showroom.

Measure Up!

First, make sure you know your measurements.  There are two sets to be aware of: the size of your dining room, and the number of dinner guests you would like to accommodate.  Sure - as many as possible!  But that is not feasible with most people. You have some decisions to make before you know how many people your room can actually hold.

These factors are:  the physical dimensions of your room, the shape of the room, the number and placement of doors and windows and how much ancillary dining room furniture you want. These include credenzas, buffets, servers, dressers, display cabinets and so on.

Dining Table and Chairs - But What Else?

Perhaps you must have at least one cabinet to show off your best crystal and dinnerware - or even your antiques collection, but keep in mind that such items will invariably reduce the number of potential diners you can accommodate. Figure how many friends and relatives you would likely invite to a dinner party, and then how they would fit into your dining room. 

Every piece of furniture other than the table and chairs should be carefully thought out - this is where an L-shaped dining room could be an advantage. Dine in the long side, and serve and display in the shorter side. If you are short of space, do you really need buffets and credenzas when the purpose of the room is eating?

Allow Space for Sitting and Eating

How often have you been to a busy restaurant or even a packed function such as a wedding reception when you barely have elbow room to eat? When you have trouble pushing your seat back to stand up, and push your way through the tight-packed chairs?  You don't want that in your own home.  Doors and windows will also be restrictive. Here is some advice:

a)  You need sufficient space behind the seats around your dining room table for your guests to be seated. If nobody has to walk behind your guests, then 24 inches between table and wall is sufficient. Otherwise, you will need 30 inches. Make that 4.5 feet if wheelchairs are involved.

b) You also need sufficient elbow room - a 5 ft x 3 ft table can seat 6 (including one each end), while a 12 ft x 3 ft will seat twelve. Basically allow a minimum of 24 inches for each person, although 30 inches is more comfortable.

c) Circular tables look good, but are not generally space-effective in terms of diners and each has less room towards the center. Calculate the diameter of your table using the formula: (Guests x 0.795) for a rough idea of the diameter of your table. 

So, while 6 guests would require only 4.8 ft diameter table (to nearest 0.1 ft) while 12 would need 9.5 ft. Compare these figures with the rectangular table figures above and you will see that you would lose space to seat six (5 x 3 ft vs. 4.8 x 4.8 ft space needed) and gain in length but lose greatly in breadth for 12.    

Add to all of that the 3 ft needed for traffic space (and a wheelchair needs a 6 foot turning circle), then you can work out how much space is left for the other dining room furniture (servers, credenzas, etc.)

Avoid These Comments

The dimensions are less important for casual dining because family members tend to squeeze in when they must, and do not always eat all at the same time.  In fact, in today's world, the family meal in the dining room is not as common as it once was. However, formal dinners require more space for each diner. Like it or not, comments are made when guests are squeezed in with little elbow room (though you never hear them!)

Make sure that you order dining room furniture of a size that a) fits your room and b) offers the above space for your diners. If you want other furniture in your dining room then compromise - but you must be realistic about matching your guests with the room you have to seat them.

Patterson Furniture offers a very large range of dining room furniture from some of America's top furniture manufacturers.  Stickley Furniture, Simply Amish, Canal Dover, Valley View and Nichols & Stone and just a section of the American furniture manufacturers available from the Patterson furniture website.

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