Blackheath Family Home: classic Dining room by Imperfect Interiors

​How to choose the right tables for small spaces

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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It doesn’t matter if you have a modern, open-plan layout which combines your kitchen, dining- and living areas, or a more traditional home where all these spaces are closed off – you will require at least one table in one of these rooms. 

However, since not all of us are fortunate enough to live in gigantic mansions (and flaunt endless design budgets), there exists the problem of tiny spaces – and how to effectively furnish them. This brings us to the problem of picking out the right tables for small spaces. 

For instance, how do you go about picking the right dining table for your tiny dining space? Of course it needs to be big enough so your guests don’t crowd one another, but also small enough so you can still move quite successfully around it.

And this problem is also carried through to your living room: how do you pick the right-size coffee table? After all, tables for small spaces have to be both functional and stylish, just like any other furniture piece. 

Relax – homify is here to help!

1. Choosing a dining table size: Sizing to your space

Oliphant Street, Queen's Park : rustic Dining room by Grand Design London Ltd
Grand Design London Ltd

Oliphant Street, Queen's Park

Grand Design London Ltd

When picking tables for small spaces (in this case, the dining room), remember that the right-size table is scaled proportionally to your dining space, plus leaves enough room to easily pull out chairs and manoeuvre around. These layout tips will help you determine the sweet-spot range for table dimensions.

The correct amount of space around your dining table:  

• Minimum: 91cm 

• Ideal: 106 – 120cm  

• For a thoroughfare or entrance: 120cm 

The right width for your dining table: 

• For place settings only: 70 – 76cm 

• For place settings and serving pieces: 90cm 

• For the ability to pass across the table: no more than 120cm.

2. Choosing a dining table size: Seating capacity

New York City Family Home: classic Dining room by JKG Interiors
JKG Interiors

New York City Family Home

JKG Interiors

Generally in product descriptions, dining tables list the number of people it can seat, although actual table measurements may vary by a few centimetres. 

So, how do you know if you can squeeze in an extra seat? Allow 60cm per place setting (although benches are recommended, as they can be a bit cosier).

3. Choosing a dining table size: Adjustable length

Blackheath Family Home: classic Dining room by Imperfect Interiors
Imperfect Interiors

Blackheath Family Home

Imperfect Interiors

Extendable tables are heaven-sent, as they offer the flexibility to seat more people when the need arises. A removable leaf can be placed in the centre of the table to expand it or stored in a designated slot under the tabletop when not in use. 

And don’t worry if the expanded measurements leave a bit less space than recommended – as long as the chairs can still be pulled back, you are fine.  

Another option when searching for tables for small spaces is drop-leaf tables with edges that can fold down when not in use, making them a popular small-space solution.

4. Choosing a dining table style: Height options

SS16 Style Guide - Coastal Elegance - Dining Room: country Dining room by LuxDeco
LuxDeco

SS16 Style Guide—Coastal Elegance—Dining Room

LuxDeco

Your average dining table stands around 76cm high. Counter-height tables come in a bit higher (around 86 – 91cm tall) and pair well with bar stools for tight spaces.

homify hint: Buying your dining table and chair separately? Check the legroom: ideally leave about 18cm of vertical space between the chair and table.

5. Choosing a dining table style: Table shapes

Similar to size, your home's dining space (both measurements and shape) should influence the shape of the table.

Rectangular tables are available in a variety of widths, making them highly adaptable. Oval ones present no corners, making it easier to pull up an additional seat. Round and square ones make good use of space, especially in smaller rooms, plus allow for easier conversation.

6. Choosing a dining table style: Dining room sets

Theatre director's house in Clifton, Bristol: modern Dining room by Dittrich Hudson Vasetti Architects
Dittrich Hudson Vasetti Architects

Theatre director's house in Clifton, Bristol

Dittrich Hudson Vasetti Architects

Of course the best bet would be to settle on a dining room set, taking the stress out of your search for the perfect table-and-chair match. That way, you already know that the chairs will be the right height for the table and the styles will look great together.

All you need to be concerned about in this case is the availability of adequate space around your dining room set.

7. Choosing the right coffee table

Miner's Cottage II: Living Room: rustic Living room by design storey
design storey

Miner's Cottage II: Living Room

design storey

Searching for the perfect coffee table for a small space? First of all ask yourself: do you really need or want one? 

Sure, a living room looks more complete with a coffee table on which to set things down (i.e. the TV remote, cups of tea… ) and are very functional when it comes to entertaining, but will your living room really look naked without one?

If you’ve decided that you simply can’t do without a coffee table, then proceed.

8. Choosing the right coffee table: The shape

When it comes to picking out tables for small spaces, you need to consider the rest of the furniture as well. 

Very long sofas could handle a rectangular or oval coffee table. Small love seats could use those shapes if the size doesn't overwhelm. Super modern sofas and large sectionals can go nicely with square or round coffee tables. 

You could also consider a round design if you have harsh, sharp lines in your living room and you want to soften the space up.

9. Choosing the right coffee table: Get the height right

Truffle sofa: modern Living room by Loaf
Loaf

Truffle sofa

Loaf

Picking tables for small spaces is not just about width and length; height is also quite crucial. Most of the time, if you pick a coffee table with the same height as (or perhaps even a little taller than) your sofa's seat height, you'll be fine. However, if you want a really relaxed feel and have a lower sofa or lounge seating, you might want to go lower to match. 

To go taller, choose a coffee table with a smaller diameter to help balance the composition.

homify hint: Pick a material that works for your lifestyle. For instance, don't choose a wood surface that needs coasters if you don’t ever use coasters. Similarly, don’t consider getting a glass coffee table if you have tiny toddlers that love jumping on furniture.

10. Choosing the right coffee table: Consider multiples

Mysterious Woods: scandinavian Living room by Pixers
Pixers

Mysterious Woods

Pixers

What about considering multiple smaller coffee tables instead of one giant piece? Some spaces will work much better this way, as they can benefit from multiple coffee tables that give the rooms more flexibility to adjust the layout for different activities. 

However, other rooms are better off with multiple coffee tables thanks to the layered, sophisticated effect.

In the end, decide how your choice will impact your room’s space – functionality (i.e. the ability to move freely around the room) is also vital! 

Speaking of picking the right furniture, see these 9 things to consider when choosing a sofa.

Are you in need of some tables for small spaces in your home?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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