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A Little Elbow Room

by: Kent Schneider 05/20/09

Clients often ask us how big of a dining table they will need for their home. While room considerations will often dictate the shape or size of a table, there are two methods we generally use for determining the proper size of a table; by place setting and by room size. The method you choose is up to you but we have often found it is best to use the room size method first. If the room size is obviously not a constraint, we will move on to the place setting method (although both may be used as a check and balance). Below are some useful measurements and sizing factors that we use in making our calculations.

Forest

In general, the smallest place setting required for each adult at a table will be 24" wide by 16" deep. You should add at least 5" to this depth as shared space for each person sitting across from one another. With these dimensions, we can estimate that the smallest table to accommodate 4 people should be about 56" long by 42" wide with one person sitting on each side of the table. While these dimensions will get the job done, they don't give your guests much elbow room. The optimal spacing for an adult place setting is about 30" wide by 18" deep with an additional 9" for common area. This would make an ideal table for 4 approximately 66" long by 54" deep.

Keep in mind that just because the table can technically fit into the room, does not mean that it actually "fits" the room. Your guests still need to be able to get into the chairs easily. Getting in and out of a chair at a table requires at least 30" (ideally 36") and if you wish to have room for guests to circulate around the table, an additional 24" to 32" perimeter is recommended beyond this. For that reason, at Verde Home, we often prefer to start with your room size and back our way into the largest or smallest table that the room will accommodate. Below you will find four typical scenarios used for sizing a table at Verde Home.

 

Scenario

About

Calculation

Very Snug (Table maximization)

This is to get the biggest table possible in the room.  You will only be leaving room for your guests to get in and out of the chairs with no allowance for circulating behind them.  All the guest will have to be seated, with chairs pulled in, for guests to pass behind.

Sizing Factor (-60") : Since you will need at least 30" per side for guests to get in and out of the chairs, take the total size of the room in inches and subtract 60" from the length and width to arrive at the maximum table size.

Snug

Again you are trying to maximize seating but you want a little more room.  This configuration will give your guests  a comfortable amount of room to get in and out of chairs and make it a little easier to pass behind.

Sizing Factor (-72") : You are still not allowing for a circulation zone but you have provided 36" on every side for entry and egress.  Take 72" off the length and width of the room to arrive at the suggested table size. 

Comfortable

This is ideal for most rooms.  It gives your guests plenty of room to be seated while leaving another narrow zone beyond this for people to pass. 

Sizing Factor (-108") : Under this scenario you are allotting 30" on each side for seating and an additional for 24"comfortable circulation.  Subtract 108" from the total length and width of the room to arrive at the suggested table size.

Spacious (Comfort Maximization or large room)

This is for larger rooms with ample space.  Under this scenario we allot ample space for seating and circulation.  If rooms become very large we recommend deciding how many you wish to seat and calculating up using place setting sizes.

Sizing Factor (-172") : This factor allows for 36" of chair siting room with an additional 32" for circulation.  Subtract 172" from the length and width of the room to arrive at the suggested table size.

 

Lets assume you have a room that is 15 feet wide by 20 feet long (180 inches by 240 inches), using the four scenario guides above you would arrive at the following table sizes:

  • Very Snug - 120" x 180"
  • Snug - 108" x 168"
  • Comfortable - 72" x 132"
  • Spacious - 44" x 104" 

Keep in mind that most standard rectangular tables are going to be between 40" and 54" wide.  With this information we can come up with the following table sizes:

  • Very Snug - 54" x 180"
  • Snug - 54" x 168"
  • Comfortable - 54" x 132"
  • Spacious - 44" x 104" 

You can then run these numbers against place setting standards to see how many people you will be able to accommodate.  Below are the common place setting factors for each of these scenarios as we use them here at Verde Home.

 

Scenario

Place Setting Width

Place Setting Depth

Common Area

Very Snug

24"

21"

5"

Snug

26"

23"

5"

Comfortable

28"

25"

9"

Spacious

30"

27"

9"

 

Using these numbers your table could accommodate the following number of guests:

 

Scenario

Seats Per Side

Seats on Each end

Total Seats

Very Snug

7

1

16

Snug

6

1

14

Comfortable

4

1

10

Spacious

3

1

8

 

With these numbers in hand you should be able to get a good estimate of the proper table size for your room.  We are currently working on a web form that will calculate all of this for you but in the meantime we have developed a spreadsheet that you may download for assistance.  If you have any questions or would like help choosing the perfect table please feel free to contact us.

 

BTW - The rule of thumb for rugs under dining tables is that the chair should remain on it when it is pulled out, so add 60" (30" for each side) to the length and width of your table to get your minimum rug size.

 


 


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