Next to your home and vehicle, your furnishings probably represent one of your biggest investments. It pays to take your time when selecting new pieces. After all, they’ll likely remain with you for years, if not generations to come.
Few items are more important than where your family gathers to eat their meals. What questions should you ask yourself while shopping? Consider these five tips when shopping for a dining room table.
1. Outline the Intended Uses
Fine furniture can qualify as artwork, but it ultimately serves a practical purpose. Relatively few families use their dining room table strictly for serving dinner. Depending on your circumstances, it can become anything from an ironing board to a homeschool desk to an arts and crafts center.
TV shows often feature dining room tables better suited for the conference room, with a smaller space at the head and elongated sides. Such designs might come in handy if your home serves as the reunion hub for your larger clan. If your extended family often gathers for Thanksgiving and other holidays at your place, and you have the space, go long.
However, space comes at a premium in many homes. If you enjoy hosting dinner parties but are a bit cramped, look for models with removable leaves that let you expand when needed and fold up after your guests go home.
Are you in a one-room studio or going the tiny home route to circumvent rising real estate prices? The adjective “Murphy” doesn’t only apply to beds and oil soap anymore. You can find this style of dining room table that folds flat to your wall when you finish eating, opening up room for your Ashtanga practice.
2. Factor Your Family Planning
Maybe you’re flying solo now — but what’s your long-term plan? If you intend on the pitter-patter of little feet in the near future, you need a place to feed those wee mouths.
If you have a baby on board or plan on starting your family soon, consider what type of high chair you intend to use. Some clip-on models offer the ultimate versatility, but you want to ensure that the design you choose is sturdy enough to support the weight of your growing child. Those opting for traditional high chair models should measure to see that their table height won’t leave them with shoulder strain if they have to reach at an awkward angle to fly that airplane into the hangar.
Keep changing realities in mind. If you plan to stop at two children, you might get away with a smaller model. However, if the possibility of homeschooling during a pandemic means sharing study space, go larger.
3. Materials Matter
Glass tabletops look sleek and elegant in modern decors. They also gather fingerprints like a well-trained detective, engraving each whorl until the entire surface looks cloudy. Plus, it could chip when Junior carelessly plops down his heavy hockey trophy on it.
Wood is a classic choice. Although you can scratch the surface, you can also sand and refinish it, extending the life of your piece for generations. However, it depends on how the dining room table is made. Those from solid slabs cost more than those constructed out of particle board, but they also withstand the test of time much better.
Other options include marble, quartz or laminate. You can even go with metal if your pad features a rugged industrial design.
4. Keep Comfort First and Foremost
You probably don’t have a spare hour or two to spend at the furniture store. However, what feels like a suitable fit for a few minutes can become painful over time. Keep comfort and body alignment in mind when selecting your dining room table and chairs.
For example, farmhouse-style furnishings often feature wooden benches instead of chairs with backs. While such seating arrangements might work for a quick breakfast, your back can start to ache without support. Think twice unless you intend to tuck your table into a corner where you can lean back against a wall to relax your spine.
Likewise, hard, wooden seats feel less than comfortable on your fanny after the first few minutes. If you enjoy long, leisurely lunches like the French, opt for chairs with cushions that cradle your tush.
5. Consider Your Overall Decor Theme and Style
Finally, take a look at your other furnishings. Snap a few pictures before you shop. That way, you can hold them up at the store and get a better visual of how your new dining room table will look in your home.
Consider your overall tastes. You might fall in love with a dark granite tabletop. However, if the rest of your home features a rustic farmhouse look, your dining room pride-and-joy will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Of course, it isn’t the end of the world if your tastes change five or ten years down the road. You can find both online and in-person retailers that will buy your old furniture, giving you cash in hand to put toward something new.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Dining Room Table
Furniture is a sizable investment for many people. It pays to ask yourself the right questions before heading to the store. Consider the five factors above when shopping for a dining room table and get the most for your money.
Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels