Ask the TBBs: Dining Table Size

Last week The TBBs received the following question via Twitter:




Donna says: What a great question!  With so many tables available on the market today, including custom made options, you can likely have any size dining table you want.  The dimensions of the table you choose depends on a couple of factors.  First is the size of your room.  With a narrow space you will more than likely need a narrow table (see picture below).  The second factor is how you serve your meals.  If you tend to serve more “buffet” style meals, where you set the food dishes on the table, you may want a wider table.  Whichever size you choose, please keep in mind the scale of the table & chairs in relation to the space it occupies.  You want to have enough room to easily walk around the table and be able to move chairs in and out without banging into walls or furniture.

 Lisa says:  As far as elbow room, it is recommended to have a minimum of 24″ per person (Human Dimension and Interior Space, Panero & Zelnik).  This resource book also recommends you have at least 16″ depth for the place setting area and 5″ for the minimum shared access zone, together with a second 16″ for the diner seated across from the first, which adds up to a 37″ minimum table width.

However, many people can and do use a table narrower than 36″.  It really depends on the size of your space and how many people will be using the table. If you have a long narrow room, you can match it with a long narrow table.  That way some of your shared access space can be at the ends of the table and not in the middle of the table.  If width is really at a premium,  you can use a banquette seat or bench on one side of the table, which eliminates some of the space required to pull out chairs when getting in and out from the table.

For an example, the picture below shows a restaurant with long narrow tables and banquettes.

The long, narrow dining room at E-Tao in the Galleria. Photo by Alison Cook


 Maureen says: A 36″ dining table is more than adequate for most situations, depending on your space. If you feel you need a wider table, you can always add a plywood tabletop to extend the width and length. You must keep in mind that 3 ft. is minimal space needed around the perimeter of the table and chairs (with the chairs pushed in).  I have done this many times for larger crowds by using two pieces of plywood cut to my specifications, and securing together on the underside, at outer edges to keep plywood stable (see hardware below). You will want to cover the plywood with a table covering, but once the table is set, it will allow you more room for larger crowds and no one will know of the extension on top.


Nicole says:  Well, that pretty much covers it.  So when should we come over?  We’ve got the wine!

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