Home Decorating For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Decorating needs differ for informal (casual) dining and formal (dressy) dining. Informal dining can take place on almost any surface, from coffee tables to TV trays. The formal dining room, on the other hand, features a table (often a large one) and chairs that are especially for family rituals, formal meal service, and holidays.

Although you want family and friends to admire your beautifully set table, you also care that they’re comfortably seated when they gather around your table. If you’re not sure how much space you need for each place setting or how many guests your table can seat, take a look at the following guidelines:

  • Plan a minimum of 24 inches for each place setting. If you have the room, 30 inches is ideal and much more comfortable.

  • Make sure the table doesn’t have a low apron. A low apron (the wood panel below the tabletop) may prevent your guests from crossing their legs. If you have a low apron, find chairs that seat at a comfortable height.

  • If you use a sofa (or bench) for seating at a long table, choose one with a high enough seat. Add casters to sofa legs if you need to raise the seat height.

  • Be sure that the chairs arms are low enough to slide beneath, and not bump into, the table. Too-low tables can be raised with casters or devices that elevate (which are available at home stores).

  • Provide at least 24 inches of space behind each chair when someone is sitting in it. This is the minimum space needed for people to pass by when serving or leaving the table.

    You’re better off setting up an additional table in another room than crowding a dining room with a too-big table and too much furniture.

If you’re in the market for a new dining room table, or you’re just not sure how many people the table you have can comfortably seat, check out the table here for the lowdown on table shapes, sizes, and seating capacity.

Table Sizes and Seating Capacities
Shape Dimensions Seating Capacity
Round 36-inch diameter Four for drinks, two for dining
Round 40-inch diameter Four
Round 56-inch diameter Eight
Square 38-inch square Four
Rectangular 60 x 36 inches Six
Rectangular 72 x 36 inches Six to eight
Rectangular 84 x 36 inches Six to eight
Rectangular 96 x 48 inches Eight to ten
Rectangular 132 x 48 inches Twelve

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

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