The dining table is not only a gathering spot for family and friends, but also a focal point in the home. If you intend to shop for one you’ll have forever, you will probably want to buy only once. So what do you need to look for? A dining table needs to be well crafted and strong, seat a good many people and be a good size for most rooms. As a dining table can be an expensive investment, you will need to take your time in your search to tick off the key criteria you hope the table will satisfy at home. Here are our 10 suggestions and several photos to inspire you.
1. Select a dining table made of sturdy stuff. If you want a table to last through years of dinner party wear and tear, choose a table made from a hardwood, such as mahogany, walnut, maple, oak and teak. Tables made from engineered or composite woods, which include plywoods and MDF, are durable and economical but are never as strong as a hardwood.
2. Wood is tops, but don’t discount glass. The advantage of a glass-top dining table is that it works well with many decor themes. And because it has a reflective surface, it is an excellent choice for a space that might need to look a little lighter and brighter. Glass dining tables are tough, too. Today’s versions are made with tempered safety glass, which means the glass resists scratches and heat and won’t shatter if knocked.
3. Go for the tried and true: a weathered wood table. A secondhand wood table with a farmhouse or industrial heritage has already passed the test of time. Any scratches and nicks in the tabletop surface have mellowed into design details, becoming features to admire. If you accidentally add a few more to it, it won’t matter. For this reason, these tables are great for families with children — you never have to worry about whether your brood is unwittingly or even intentionally marking the table.
4. Impress your guests. Marble is a big investment, but without exception marble dining tables are nearly always showstoppers. Tables crafted from quality imported marble are extremely beautiful. Buy without guilt if you truly fall in love with one — marble’s timeless appeal will make it a table that is always in fashion — but do be aware that a marble tabletop comes with a couple of drawbacks. First, marble tables of any kind are bulky and heavy. Second, they have to be well looked after, as the marble can crack and stain. To avoid stains, keep the table cleared and clean at all times, covering it with a tablecloth or placemats when red wine and foods that can damage marble are on the menu.
5. For buyers on the move, choose a table that is easily transportable. For those who don’t stay put, a heavy table may prove to be an annoyance, weighing you down each time you move. If you fall in love with a metal or marble table, don’t be discouraged from buying it, but do think about how you might safely transport it. As suggested above, choose a small, round marble table, or go for a wooden table with detachable legs. If you are looking for a table to suit an urban-industrial decor theme, don’t go all-out with a (heavy) metal table but consider a (lighter) wood table with some metal design features.
6. Consider a designer pack-and-go dining table. Plywood is lightweight and durable, and a plywood table can be flat-packed and assembled as needed at home. Your dining table then can be packed up and moved as necessary. Plus it works well in a home with modern Nordic or contemporary Asian style.
7. Settle on a shape that will work in most rooms. Round tables look good in compact rooms and living areas that have square dining zones. They also offer flexible seating. If you buy a six-seater, eight can usually be accommodated at a pinch — the larger the diameter, the more people can be seated. On the other hand, rectangular tables have limited seating spots due to the position of the table legs and because only one person can be seated at each end.
8. Color is cool but beware the trendy hue. Today’s on-trend shade is tomorrow’s fashion fail, so choose wisely. Classic colors, such as the primaries (red, yellow and blue), usually have staying power, mainly because they are so unapologetically basic. Red is a very popular color, especially in homes that have a subtle Asian theme, as red is a color traditionally associated with celebration, and this will work even if the home is minimalist and modern.
9. Black is always the new black. If you aren’t expecting your table to suffer wear and tear, choose the most sophisticated and elegant table you’ve always dreamed of owning. Black tables are notoriously tricky, especially if they are veneered, because the smallest scratch will show up. If you are the careful type, however, black is super cool and will always be so.
10. You can’t go wrong with a classic country table. Generally, the country-style dining table is large and therefore suitable for families or for people who regularly entertain. These tables are usually made from a solid timber, like oak or pine, making them very robust. They also have an uncomplicated design suitable for most schemes, although, pleasingly, many country tables feature elegantly turned legs that support the tabletop. The only real consideration in buying this style of table is whether to go for an upmarket one, such as a French colonial table, or one with the rustic appeal of an English country farmhouse.