Before You Set The Table...Choose A Table That's Right For You

by Neal Kielar, Tastemaker in Residence

Planning a gathering around a table means thinking about the guest list, menu and place settings.

But before all that, you have to choose the right table.

Where you’ll place the table and how you’re likely to use it over time are top considerations. The first part is easy for most people; they already know what space requires a table. But also think more broadly about how you’ll use the table day-to-day, for special events and in sometimes unexpected ways.

If it’s your everyday table, consider something durable and place a higher emphasis on comfort. You’ll use that table for family dinners, homework, makeshift office and countless other aspects of your life.

A formal dining space is another matter. Although quality and comfort still matter, your selection is more likely to be driven by decorating style. If you don’t use formal dining every day, for example, you can consider upholstered seats in finer fabrics the kids won’t ruin.

Knowing how you’ll use your table makes choosing a size and shape easier. Oh, and room size and configuration.

Allow 24 linear inches per place setting for (most) guests. And leave ample room so people can get up and around the table with ease.

Round tables that expand to become ovals can often let you sneak an extra seat at the ends.
Consider a table that expands according to need – using drop leaves, pull-out leaves or drop-in leaves.

The dining table is often the largest piece of furniture in a room. So it might drive how you decorate the entire space.

When decorating a room – especially from scratch – start with the most dominant element in the room and work out from there.

If your dining area is physically separated from other areas of the home, you can give a different feel. If it’s part of an open floor plan, then try to make it relate to the adjacent spaces.

When decorating try to envision the room full of people and place settings and decorations. You won’t want it to be or feel to crowded, so decorate with simplicity in mind so you can go all out on special occasions.

Neal Kielar is owner of MidModMen+friends, a St. Paul, MN-based boutique offering a classic/modern mix of home furnishings, from vintage to artisan, and artist originals.