Raft’s guide to how to choose a dining table takes into account both  form and function. Many homes once had a dining room, often kept ‘for best’, but this is no longer the case. Previously, the dining table was secluded to a single function room, highly polished and well protected. However, with the shift to open plan living and combined kitchen diners, the dining table is now a versatile centrepiece. So, how do you go about choosing one that is right for you, your family, your lifestyle, and your home?

How to choose a dining table – The 5 Essentials

Low budget, flat pack furniture is a thing of the past and luckily we were ahead of the curve. Placing importance on sustainability since 1999, we believe that a dining table is an investment that should offer a lifetime of loyal service. These are the essential points you need to consider before deciding what to buy:

  1. 16Where will the dining table be located?
  2. How will you use the dining table?
  3. What’s the best size for a dining table?
  4. What’s the best shape for a dining table?
  5. What’s the best material for a dining table?

Where will your dining table be located?

Will your dining table be in a dedicated dining room, used exclusively for eating? Or, will it be taking centre stage in a kitchen diner or open plan space? Taking this into consideration allows you to choose your perfect model, from the ideal size and shape to the placement of the legs. If you are shopping in person, rather than online, take along a note of the relevant room or space dimensions and, ideally, some photos.

How will you use your dining table?

How to choose a dining table depends largely on how you'll be using it. Nowadays, dining tables are used for far more than eating. We asked a group of people, including solo flat dwellers, professional couples, parents with young and older children, and retired people, how they used their dining tables, apart from mealtimes. These were some of the things they mentioned:

  1. Entertaining guests
  2. Drinks and snacks station for standing shindigs
  3. Makeshift home office desk
  4. Children’s homework base
  5. Kids' arts and crafts activities
  6. Playing board, party and card games
  7. Informal meetings, such as book clubs

How to choose a dining table: size and shape

The size and shape of your dining table depends on where it's going and how you plan to use it. Make sure that there is enough circulation space to move around the table and rearrange dining chairs when needed. These are the most popular styles:

  1. Circular tables - These work well if space is at a premium. They also complement square rooms or as part of combined sitting room / dining rooms, where they can soften the linear emphasis of other furniture.
  2. Square tables - These are suited to smaller spaces, perfect for couples' homes. Or, make a statement with a large square table, perfect for homes where large sharing spreads in the centre of the table are commonplace.
  3. Rectangular tables - Perfect for larger rooms and big families or households. Rectangular tables offer plenty of space for everyone.

Don't overlook your table legs

Often overlooked, the shape and placement of your table's legs are incredibly important. If you need to take advantage of your dining table's maximum seating capacity due to having a large household, frequent dinner parties or children’s parties, for example, choose corner set legs. Corner set legs rather than inset, for maximum flexibility and comfort. Otherwise, to make a stylish statement and for smaller households, we love the bold, inset legs of the Tamara Dining Table and the beauty of the Teak Root Glass Top Dining Table cannot be overstated.

What’s the best material for your table?

The best material for your dining table depends on all of the factors above, as well as the overall style and design of your interiors. The best thing about the natural materials we use at Raft is that they adapt to changes in decoration or colour schemes. Timelessness of style and durability are essential when choosing the perfect dining table so materials such as plywood or MDF are a firm no. Yes, they may be cheaper but they are a short term saving as they will soon need to be replaced as opposed to teak models that last a lifetime.

  1. Hardwood tables - A robust table made from teak will last for a lifetime. It wears its history with pride but the marks have mellowed and it’s not the end of the world if you, your family, or guests inadvertently add more marks. If you want eco-friendly, sustainable furniture, this is a great choice. Furniture with a story.
  2. Glass-top tables – Glass tables are a beautiful décor choice, brightening darker areas and offering a stylish . They’re easy to clean and modern versions are made of heat and scratch resistant safety glass: a practical and stylish choice. Great for adults and families with older children but can be a hazard for toddlers, who don’t always look where they’re going or see the glass top, resulting in bumped heads. Glass tables are also very revealing  . . . (Take a look at Raft’s glass-topped tables, which come with a reclaimed teak root base – the best of both worlds.)