Here at Barker and Stonehouse, we believe that shopping for a new dining table should be an exciting and enjoyable experience, so if your first question is “how do I choose a dining table?” then you’ve come to the right place. From different materials and shapes to the financing options available to you, our dining table buying guide covers everything you need to know before making a decision. So have a read and get started on your search for a dining table the right way: safe in the knowledge that you’ll be totally happy with your purchase for years to come.
Whether it’s where you begin the day with your family over breakfast or it’s where you like to get your friends together for a few drinks, your dining room is a place to be cherished. Your dining room might even be your kitchen or a designated corner of your living area, but regardless of what space you’re working with, it should be used to its full potential. That’s where our dining table guide comes in.
With the increasingly fast pace of everyday life, and the draws of social media and television, it’s more important than ever to set aside time to spend together – and your dining table is the perfect place to make this happen. A place to make memories, celebrate special occasions, share stories about your day and much more.
A dining table is a real investment, and we understand that making the right decision can sometimes seem a little overwhelming. From personal preferences to practicality, there are many things to think about before you begin your search, which is why we’ve taken the time to cover all of the key areas in this dining table guide.
With more than 70 years’ experience in the furniture industry, we certainly know our stuff when it comes to dining tables. We’ve seen styles come and go, we’ve learnt a thing or two from our suppliers, and most importantly we know what our customers love. So, whatever queries you may have, we’re sure that our guide will give you all of the answers you need.
It may seem pretty straight forward to measure up your space and select a dining table that’s suitably smaller than these dimensions, but there’s actually a lot more to consider. On the practical side, you should ensure there’s at least a 90cm clearance around the table, and a minimum of 50-60cm width available for each place setting. If you’ve already got your eye on a dining chair that’s quite chunky, such as one with arms, then this will factor into your decision as well, so don’t forget to compare measurements.
A popular option, 6 seater dining tables are usually big enough for most families, perhaps with space for an extra guest or two. If this is a little too large for you at the moment, then a 4 seater dining table that extends to fit 6 people may be ideal. But if your dining table rarely sees more than 2 guests, then you shouldn’t upsize just for the sake of it.
If you’re working with a large area, it may be tempting to opt for the biggest dining table possible, but that’s not necessarily a good idea. Although you want to make the most of your space, you don’t want to overcrowd it, so it’s important to think about what else is in the room and how much floorspace you require. If you’re looking to furnish a smaller space, like a kitchen-diner, be sure to look out for a narrow dining table with slim legs so that you’re not adding unnecessary inches on. Alternatively, a table with a pedestal base will be much more efficient than the traditional four legs, while a dining table with bench will help to maximise your space even more.
Our ultimate suggestion? If you’re torn between dimensions, then the best idea is to invest in an extendable dining table. Your future self will thank you.
The answer to this is made up of equal parts practicality and personal preference. But let’s start with the main contenders and their benefits...
Wooden dining table
Choice of finishes, reclaimed wood and solid wood options, natural, homely, sturdy.
Marble or stone dining table
Elegant, timeless, a real focal point, unique appearance.
Concrete dining table
Low-maintenance, minimalist, modern.
Metal dining table
Durable, strong, easy to care for and a little different.
Glass dining tables
Suits almost any interior look, opens up your space.
This is an important question, especially for families with young children. If longevity and low-maintenance are your priorities, you should look towards a table like the Halmstad. One of our best-selling dining tables, it features a hardwearing melamine finish which has more than proven its popularity. Ceramic is similar in its scratch-proof and heat-resistant properties, plus many of our ceramic dining tables feature faux marble finishes that give you all of the wow-factor but none of the fragility.
Whatever your style preferences are, you’ll find that many of our dining tables come in a variety of finishes, so you’re sure to find a material and colour combination that you love.
From considering the overall look of your dining room to thinking about practical elements such as budget and upkeep, it’s helpful to narrow down your choices as much as possible due to the vast selection of dining tables on the market.
Aside from the size and the material, your main options to consider when choosing a dining table are:
Extendable dining tables aren’t just for accommodating extra guests, they also come in handy when you’re serving a more lavish meal where diners can help themselves to various dishes, or if you’re using your table for other tasks such as working, wrapping presents or folding laundry.
In larger spaces, an oval dining table gives you the same sociable element of a round table, but with a little more length to it. Creating a lovely elegant shape and offering space for even more guests, they easily become a focal point and help to centre the room. If you’re looking for something a little different though, you may enjoy an unusual dining table in the shape of a hexagon or octagon.
Many homes with kitchen-diners feature a rectangular table which is pushed up against the wall to save space, but can be pulled out when additional seats are required. Round kitchen tables are another popular choice, offering a little more leeway when seating extra guests thanks to their lack of corners. Square dining tables are also ideal for tucking aside into a corner if you only have two regular diners.
When it comes to colour, you’ve got plenty of choice, so the best place to start is with your existing or future colour scheme.
A grey, white or black dining table will complement most dining rooms, so they can be smart choices if you’re often redecorating. Wood is your most traditional and natural option, but there are still many colours, stains and finishes to consider, from oak to walnut. For the bolder types, you can find coloured dining tables, including red and blue, while metallic finishes such as brass are rising in popularity recently. Too indecisive? A clear glass dining table requires no consideration for colour.
Dining table design is always evolving, and you've now got a plethora of styles to choose between. From the type of legs and the finish to those finer details like tabletop edges, each element adds up to create a unique style that could be perfect for your dining room.
Luckily for you, our dining table style guide covers the main looks on the market:
Smooth finishes, often a more inexpensive option, four legs, with an apron.
Farmhouse, country-inspired designs, trestle bases, natural or painted wood, chunky proportions.
Associated with rugged reclaimed woods, metal details, black finishes, concrete, bold legs, live edges
Usually feature clean lines, might include glass or high gloss finishes, geometric shapes and splayed legs.
Statement pieces, often marble, perhaps with metallic details, or those with unusual bases.
Combines simplicity and functionality. Defined by slim legs and a minimalist look. Usually crafted from pale wood.
To really make the most of your dining table, it’s important that the surroundings are comfortable and inviting. If you envisage yourself spending several hours a day at your table, perhaps working from home, then dining chairs with padded seats should definitely be considered. Having enough space around the table and not cluttering it with bric-a-brac will also encourage you to spend time here, while ambient lighting and decoration will set a welcoming scene.
Looking after your table properly is another essential step to getting the most out of your dining table, and you can read more about how to do that in the next section. Invest in quality tableware such as tablecloths, trivets and placemats to keep your dining table looking its best, so that it’s something you’ll always love to show off.
How you like to accessorise your dining table should have some effect on your final purchase. For instance, a glamorous set-up with chrome vases, tableware and crystal will work well with an elegant marble or gloss table. On the other side of the spectrum, a pared-back minimalistic look might benefit from a smooth concrete table, while reclaimed wood dining tables lend themselves to industrial, rustic looks dressed with metal accessories and greenery.
The size of your dining table is also key. If you’re someone who believes that less is more, then your choice of accessories shouldn’t have any impact on the size of your table. But for those who have a thing for décor, a larger surface space is likely to be a priority.
Knowing your budget is another brilliant way of narrowing down the many choices available to you, but how much you should pay for your dining table ultimately comes down to your needs. Each item in the Barker and Stonehouse range of dining tables is made to the highest standard, so you needn’t worry about quality. It’s also good to know that we offer a Flexible Credit option, which means you can spread the payments across an extended period to make them a little more manageable.
By going down the finance route, the luxury dining table of your dreams can be yours without having to dish out a larger down payment. Here at Barker and Stonehouse, you can choose a payment plan that lasts between 6 months and 48 months, depending on how much you want to pay in one go. Plus, if you qualify for one of our 0% interest plans, you might even have a little left over for some gorgeous new dining chairs.
This will depend on the material and the finish, but there are some general guidelines when it comes to caring for any modern dining table. We would advise that you wipe up spillages immediately, avoid dragging items across the table top, and employ appropriate protection between the surface of the table and anything that’s placed upon it, such as plates, laptops, toys and decorative items.
The key to keeping your dining table in top condition is to really understand the material that you’re committing to before you purchase. Some are easier to maintain than others, such as ceramic, while others will require a little more attention, such as a natural marble or rustic wood dining table.
Additional aspects that may require special consideration include:
On the whole, looking after your dining table is most definitely worth it, and we’re sure that if you put in the time and effort to choose the perfect one, you’ll naturally want to treat it well. You can find more information on caring for your dining table here. And for total peace of mind, you’ve got the option to add a protection plan to your purchase to make sure you’re covered if any accidental damage occurs.
Now you should be very familiar with the areas you need to consider when buying a contemporary dining table, and we hope we’ve made your decision a little easier. For more inspiration, check out our blog for tips and trends, covering everything from how to style your dining table for a special occasion to handy advice on colour schemes. You can also see how some of our dining tables look in customer homes over on our Instagram page, or under the #barkerandstonehouse hashtag.
If you have any further questions or would like to know more about a certain product, our friendly customer services team are on hand to help – contact them here or call us on 0333 010 2352. Alternatively, you can come and visit one of our stores to get a good look at what’s on offer, where you’ll find our qualified staff will be more than happy to advise you. Check the “see in store” section on each product page to find out where you can view it in person.
Once you’ve found your perfect dining table, it’s time to find the seating match made in heaven. Our well-designed dining chairs cover a host of different looks – from traditional wooden ladderback chairs to industrial leather dining chairs full of character. We’ve even got a selection of swivel chairs for a fun and sociable twist, plus a range of stylish dining benches to shake things up.
So, whether you’re on the market for something simple or you’re dreaming of luxurious cushioned velvet dining chairs, you don’t need to go far. Many of our dining chairs also come in a variety of colours and fabrics, which makes it easier than ever to achieve the mix-and-match look that is so on-trend right now.