September 8, 2012

DINING TABLES, HOW TO CHOOSE

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We all need them,
yet it's one of the most difficult items to select for your home!

There are as many dining tables as there are chairs to accompany them. Selecting the right one is truly one of the biggest decisions you'll encounter in designing your home!

Oddly enough, I believe the table should not be the major player in the room. It is the most important yet the least noticed in a proper dining space. Everyone feels they need a 'pee-in-your-pants' dining table, and an over-the-top chandelier; then they buy crappy chairs and an ugly sideboard as the dining room budget is depleted.

My thoughts when outfitting a dining room are to have the whole picture in mind, mood, suitability, usability, etc.
I think a great chandelier and awesome chairs are primary. The chairs after all are surrounding the entire table. Then, a great buffet with something over it, art or a mirror.
If your budget doesn't allow a total scheme at once, get a sturdy plywood or banquet table and skirt it. That, with the beautiful chairs and other peripheral accents will be fine. Its crazy to spend 10's of thousands of dollars on a table.


HOW TO FACTOR A TABLE INTO A PLAN
You want a minimum of 30" behind a chair to the closest wall or furniture when someone is seated.
If you have a buffet table by the dining table, be practical, you don't want a seated guest with a line of people behind him banging his head with their elbows and dinner plates whilst queuing at the trough...
The space between the buffet should be at least 3' to 4' from the back of a seated diner. The back of a chair with a (normal size) person seated is usually 30" from edge of table. So this combined space is at least 66" from table edge to buffet front.
If you have servants, or cater-waiters serving French Service occasionally, you'll need a minimum of 30" o/c between guests to make it possible to lean in with a platter.


ACCESSORIES
A tall floral arrangement so you can't see the diners opposite is totally stupid; so is a series of candelabras which create a gauntlet of silver and wax with their flames at an irritating eye level (very tall 30"+ slender ones are perfect and elegantly chic) ... So, keep it simple (the 90's are over) NO scented candles, and NO super-fragrant flowers, the food is the only fragrance you want.


CHOOSING THE RIGHT TABLE
Here's why different dining tables have pluses and minuses:

ROUND TABLES
A round table is wonderful for eight people(60" - 70"), but that's it! A table large enough to comfortably accommodate 12 or more has to be one big-ass table (84"+)!
My experience with the very large rounds is, they're only interesting if they're fully seated, meaning 10-12 people...otherwise four or six people sitting around a trampoline sized table isn't particularly intimate, conversations are halting and so on.
When fully seated you have other issues: Only your immediate left and right-hand side mates are your table partners, everyone else is too far away to talk with. Then, there's a huge crescendo in the middle of the table as everyone is talking into the exact same direction--the middle.
However, in a kitchen or breakfast room I think a round is wonderful. It's easy to get around if its in a nook; they appear less bulky in a space; you can have all arm-chairs at it, easily.
In summation, rounds are good for up to eight people in rooms that are square, or can accommodate it comfortably. It must have a pedestal base or very deep-set gate-legs, or similar.
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These tables above are nice examples as they have center pedestals or legs which are perfect for different seating arrangements.
The French Regence extension table below is every decorators favorite, but it really is a pain in the butt with the legs to deal with.
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BANQUET TABLES
The traditional style table, long and narrow. It usually fits in any room, small or large. Most dining rooms are built for longer tables. These tables are usually range from 64"- 87" long by 36"- 42" The leaves can extend a table to any length, usually 104" - 140" for better tables.
These are, in my experience, the best tables to invest in. They're practical for almost any application.
They can be adjusted in length to accommodate as many people as you like, from an intimate 4 or 6 to a holiday extravaganza of 14 or 16.
This is the one time I say to clients "buy traditional" as it is the one item that you'll probably use until you go to the Independent-Living Village. As times change it can have the finish changed, it can be kept small until you need it larger, etc.
Within this genre of tables, you should get a "pedestal" style, meaning two or three center pedestals holding up the top. Then you don't have the peripheral legs to contend with. NO one likes to straddle a (table) leg at dinner.
The proper legs are demonstrated below.
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These type of tables can have contemporary, Regency, Biedermier, French or country legs with different style tops. The don't have to look Georgian, as above (Which I adore and think is a "forever classic")

ELLIPTICAL TABLES
This is a table that is an ellipse, often called an oval. It's not a rectangle and its not round, its a combination. These work wonderfully as fixed top tables (no leaves) for 6 to 12 guests. The beauty of them is the ability of everyone at the table to be able to see each other.
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Each of you have different style homes with entirely different architecture, etc. So selecting a good table is specific to your own home.
Here are some tables I've found that are easily accessible and ship quickly. Some contemporary, some traditional, some transitional.

EXAMPLES

This table below is the newest thing from Restoration Hardware, I think its a knockout! Comes in 2 sizes. Shown id 108" for $3,180!! Seats 8-12 people. Would be stunning with rattan chairs or fully upholstered high-back ones.
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The Farmhouse table below from Restoration Hardware is one I'd own! Everyone fantasizes about the great old table from an Italian farmhouse...this is it! Seats 8 as is, and 12 with its leaves! $2,725. Benches, modern metal chairs, or old wicker chairs would be perfect with it.
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The Brazilian wood, darkly finished table below is quite a chic table, it can go anywhere. The wood is gorgeous, the base is simple yet stylish.
The chairs are skanky but that's not what we're looking at.
This would also be a great center hall table. ONLY $626. Helloooo?
Contemporary chairs or clean-lined, fully-upholstered ones would be perfect.
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(cymax.com Somerton Brazilia Coastal Round Pedestal Dining Table in Dark Brown - 403-61RT)


The round table below from Crate & Barrel - I've used in my own projects before, its absolutely beautiful, serviceable and the perfect size (48") for 6 at $999.00 It comes larger and in another color too! I used a C&B 'McGuire' knock-off chair with it in natural cane color, gorgeous!
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      (Crate and Barrel - Orion 48" Chocolate, also comes in limed oak)

I know I said gate-legs are all legs, and they are ... however, this is a good table to put behind a sofa and have one leaf up if its facing a view or over the sofa to see the TV. It's also a lovely 60" table at an amazing
price of $999.00 A mix-match set of antique chairs could work, or some Windsor style repro's could be great.
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(Wisteria, Round Wooden Gate-leg Table)

If your home is French country or rustic this table will be hard to beat for the price; good for living room or family room or anywhere.
It's 141," comes in THREE finishes, and priced to sell at $1,999.00
I think high-back upholstered chairs would be good with this table.
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(Wisteria: French Country Dining Table with Leaves)

The artistically oxidized copper-topped 'ellipse' table below is a great find; totally carefree; works in all style decors; beautiful iron legs;
seats 8 comfortably and is well priced for what appears to be a "one-off" piece at $3,000. It comes in several sizes with choices of leg styles.
One of my stylish friends has this table with contemporary wicker arm-chairs around it. Looks perfect!
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(Arhaus.com Arabesque)

This very versatile drop leaf table is good for a small living - dining room, eat-in-kitchen, or breakfast room. The shelves below offer some storage under the elliptical top. The two leaves drop down to make it a console table. $499.00 Now that's a bargain!!!
How about this in a library as a center table with books stacked on top?? A high back chair, or some smart Regency or Georgian antique ones would be smart looking.
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(Shayne Kitchen Table Pottery Barn)

Now this table below is the deal of the decade!
A modernistic version of a classic round table, its versatile as it has leaves that open into a large "racetrack" shaped table. Seats 4 to 10 comfortably 72" x 54" for $799.00 !!!! WTF????
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(Maxwell Dining Table - ZGallerie.com)

This round extension table is a traditional version of the above table.
The dark stain and classic details make it work anywhere. also can seat 4 to 8 comfortably for $1,399. Its not particularly unique but good for a breakfast room. Any chair will work well with it.
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(Montego Table - Pottery Barn)

The table of my dreams, the purest form of function and sensuality.
I love this table!! I've seen it used in a very modern apartment and in an adorable Maine cottage. The legs are on the very outside so they're not too hard to deal with. I'd love this as a desk too. its 65" long which seats 8 comfortably, and its $1,499.00
I can see funky Plastic chairs (a la Philipe Starck) or a smart medium height back chair, or for shits-n-giggles some 19th C. French chairs in a bright colored fabric.
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(Crate and Barrel - Big Sur Table)

You can do it, I'm here to help!

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