Choosing the Right Dining Table for Your Family

The dining table - where we gather with loved ones to dine, share stories, play games, and these days, work. As a centerpiece of the home, finding the right table for your family is an important decision.


A primary factor in choosing your new dining table is if you like the look. From traditional Shaker to contemporary Scandinavian, we offer a number of timeless design styles. Consider your aesthetic preference (crisp angles or soft curves) and what shape will best work with your space (oval or rectangular).

Curve of Highland Dining Table

The oval shape of the Highland Dining Table subtly softens and adds depth to the form of the table. 


The table you choose will depend on how you plan to use it. The first decision to make is between solid top or extension, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The principal difference is the added convenience and versatility of an extension table. Depending on the number of leaves, an extension table will often add two - four place settings, perfect for those occasional large gatherings and holidays.

Shaker Hale Extension Table

The Shaker Hale Dining Table has a number of leaf options ranging from one 12” leaf up to four 16” leaves. 

While the glide mechanisms on our extension tables are extremely durable, the table is not designed or intended to be left expanded continuously. If you frequently throw large dinner parties or often dine with six or more people, it’s best to look for a large solid top table. For those who mostly host intimate meals of four or less, consider a smaller solid top table.

Acadia Live Edge Dining Table

The solid top Acadia Dining Table at 84” long can seat 8 comfortably.

An additional difference is the direction the table top boards run. Though the board arrangement does not play a structural role in the table, it does affect the aesthetics. Most (not all) of our solid top tables have boards that run vertically, the entire length of the table, creating a long, linear visual. Alternately, because the extension tables are split down the middle, the boards will run horizontally.  


When sizing for the number of people you’d like to fit at your table, we often suggest allowing 22-24” per table setting. With this tip, it is important to consider the leg position on the table. Some of our tables feature generous overhangs, and unless you are okay with someone straddling a leg, it is important to measure between the legs. For example, the 72” Harbor Dining Table can fit eight people snugly. With 66.5” between the legs, three chairs fit on either side, and an additional two on each end. On the other hand, the longer 81” Union Dining Table only seats six comfortably. Because of the large overhangs, there are only 49.5” between the trestle legs, meaning you can fit two people on either side plus one person on either end, for a total of six roomy seats. An easy way to squeeze in an extra seat is to swap out chairs for a bench on one or both sides of the table. 

Union Dining Table   Harbor Dining Table with six chairs

The solid top Union Dining Table and Harbor Dining Table both seat 6 comfortably. 

Not only do you have to fit the dimensions to the number of seats, but it is important to size the table to the room as well. It is suggested to allow for 3’ of clearance space between the table and walls or other furniture, especially in enclosed formal dining rooms. This ensures there is enough room to move about the table and pull chairs in and out. 

Revelry Dining Table

The Revelry Dining Table with 4 chairs and a bench for additional seating.

Finally, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of measuring the pathway to your dining space. Many of our dining tables are crafted using traditional joinery, which means they are built to last, but also that they cannot be dismantled during delivery. Small doors, tight hallways, etc., can present challenges that need to be taken into account when choosing your table.


Ideally, your decision would be based on the above factors alone. However, if you have a deadline to meet for upcoming holidays or house guests, the table you select may depend on availability as well. We do stock some tables, so remember to ask our sales staff what is immediately available. We work with a number of small builders throughout Maine, New England and the Midwest. Each builder operates on a different timeline and builds at a different rate. We can direct you to tables that may be able to be built in your desired timeline and provide you with our most up to date lead time estimate. 

A welcoming dining table invites you to pause and cherish all of life’s moments together. Peruse Chilton Furniture’s dining table collection to find the perfect dining table for your home. 


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