A Guide To Buying Dining Room Furniture

The dining area plays a central role in any home. It’s a place for enjoying good food, good drinks and good company. The chair you sit in and the table you sit around are crucial to the success of your space. The following guide should help make these major purchasing decisions a little simpler.


Choosing The Right Table

A dining table can be a lifetime investment, so it is important to give it the consideration it deserves. When choosing your table, first and foremost you need to know what size you are looking for. Start by measuring the size of your room. If you have a large space, consider the maximum number of people you wish to fit at your table at any one time. Be realistic: large dining tables that are regularly half empty can affect the atmosphere at the table. 

A good suggestion is to use four sheets of paper to lay out the corners of the table. Bring in any chairs you already have to get a feel for the space. A good rule of thumb is to give each diner 600mm-650mm of space (although this depends on the size of your chairs).  

Once you have decided on size, think about what shape table you wish to have. The shape of your table depends largely on the space you have available, but it’s worth remembering that each shape also influences your approach to dining. Smaller circular and square tables generally create more intimacy, whereas rectangular and oval tables are generally thought to be more formal as diners are more spaced out and there is usually more space for table decorations and tableware.

Give you table height some thought, too. This can vary from the higher dining styles (around 95cm/950mm) to the more standard dining height (around 75cm/750mm). More informal dining can be slightly lower (around 69cm/690mm), but this is generally recognised as being the standard for breakfast or kitchen tables. 

Once you have decided on the size and shapes of your dining table, think about what style of table will best suit your home and your lifestyle. A moodboard will help here. Try searching online for different styles and images that appeal to you. (Pinterest and Instagram are great places to find inspiration.) From your selection of images, it will soon become clear which material you prefer and if you are gravitating towards a casual or formal style of dining.

Timperly dining chair - Christian Watson chair - Metal dining chairs


When styling your dining room, we like to think that the chairs are inseparable from the table. The two work in together to set the tone for your dining area.

Firstly, you need to choose a chair that is fit for purpose and that works in the given space. Ask yourself if you are hoping to create a formal or informal setting. If it’s a formal dining room you are creating, it is important that your seating is comfortable for your guests, which is why formal seating tends to be upholstered and supportive. Informal chairs, by comparison, are generally used for shorter durations and so can vary in support and comfort.  

With a formal setting, you may opt for a dining table and chair set, whereas in informal settings there is more scope for you to pick and choose your table and chairs separately, which will create a more relaxed and eclectic aesthetic. Depending on the shape of your dining table, you can decide whether or not a standard chair or carver (a chair with arms) is a suitable choice. (Some formal, rectangular tables will have a carver on each end with standard chairs along either side.) Informal dining is becoming more and more popular and so larger armchairs and café chairs are increasingly being used as dining chairs to create a more relaxed dining experience. 

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the height of the seat, and the amount of space surrounding each chair. Most seat heights range from 45cm/47cm (450mm-470mm). The minimum depth of a seat should be 45cm (450mm) for ample comfort. Ideally, you need around 25cm (250mm) of space from the top of your thigh to the underside of the table while seated. And remember to allow no less than 80cm (800mm) from the back of a pulled out chair to the wall: there’s nothing worse than feeling trapped at a table.

At Christian Watson, we offer our own signature collection of dining room furniture as well as a tailored and bespoke service, which will enable you to realise your own unique vision for your home. For more information, visit both our Tailored and Bespoke page.