Choosing the Perfect Dining Table Set

by | Mar 21, 2018

Choosing the Perfect Dining Table Set

When my husband and I got married, we were shocked by all the expenses that came along with owning our own home. I chose to live with my parents all through college (thanks, mom and dad, for letting me mooch off you for a few years and save money!), and my husband had been involved in a traveling dance company, so neither of us had had our own place before. We basically had nothing except for a few Tupperware® items that I bought at a party a while back. There were so many things we needed, from towels and kitchen pans to rugs and furniture.

Dining Table Set by Ashley Furniture

One of our biggest decisions was which dining table set to purchase. And honestly, it was a bit overwhelming at first since dining table sets come in all shapes, sizes, styles and materials.

No matter what your personality or style is, there’s a dining table set to match. Whether you have a young, busy family and need something that’s durable and resilient, or you enjoy entertaining and throwing parties for your friends, or you prefer a more earthy, natural style, choosing just the right set for your needs is important.

So it’s critical to ask yourself these questions before you start looking:

  1. Who will be dining around my table?
  2. Besides eating, what other activities will happen around my table?
  3. What’s my style? (modern vs. traditional, formal vs. informal, simple vs. sophisticated)
  4. What size will be best for my space?
  5. How many chairs do I need?
  6. What type of material best suits my style and needs?
  7. What kind of piece will complement the rest of my furniture?
  8. Can I see myself and my family/friends enjoying ourselves around this table?

Dining Table Set with Leaves

Now, my husband and I were lucky because as part of my parents’ wedding gift to us, they offered to buy us our dining table set. We were so thankful because that was one less thing we had to purchase for ourselves.

When they offered, my husband and I sat down and asked each other many of these same questions, and we talked about style, size, materials and color. Thankfully, we were able to agree on almost all of these points:

  • we both really liked natural wood style (oak), but we didn’t want something that would dent easily (we wanted children someday and figured they’d be pretty rough on the table)
  • we wanted at least 6 chairs
  • oval seemed to be the best shape
  • durability was important.

Knowing what you want (and what you don’t want) is incredibly important because it helps narrow down your options.

So, we began shopping around, comparing prices and styles, and browsing magazines and brochures (yeah … this was pre-internet … I’m feeling kind of old now … sigh). We knew that this was an investment, and we needed to be sure that we would be happy with whatever choice we made long-term. We didn’t rush into the decision either; we took our time to make sure we made the right choice for us.

We found ourselves at a local, family-owned furniture store with a great reputation. We felt right at home right away – no pushy, smooth-talking sales guys – just genuine smiles and helpfulness. They answered every one of our questions and pointed us in the right direction based on our needs. The customer service was truly something special, and when my husband, parents and I left, we felt great about our decision.

Dining Table Set with 4 Stools

Thinking Long-term

When considering which dining table set to purchase, it’s important to remember that this is something that you’ll be using for many years. Will you still be happy with this style in 5 years? Can you see yourself and your family utilizing this set years from now? Or will it soon become outdated?

When we were looking, I could see my husband and I (and someday, our children) enjoying meals together, playing games and entertaining around that table. I could picture that table bringing our family together for Easter dinner, Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner.

I envisioned game night and popcorn overtaking the table, my kids doing homework there and celebrating birthdays, baptisms and graduations around our dining table set.

It was the right purchase for us, and it was a great investment. This dining table set has lasted us more than 20 years now. Honestly, it’s one of the few items that we still own from when we first got married, and since it’s lasted this long, it’s obvious what great quality it is. How many things do you own that’s more than 20 years old??? Probably not many, right?

Formal Dining Table Set

Thinking Style

For us, choosing a dining table set that was sturdy, solid and traditional was what mattered most. We didn’t want something that was “in style” right now but would soon be considered out-of-style a few years later.

For you, it could be that you have always envisioned a simpler, less rigid, more relaxed dining table set such as a farm table and benches. Or perhaps you prefer something more formal and fancy. Maybe like us, you want something more traditional and homey-feeling.

What kind of chairs do you prefer? Upholstered chairs or un-upholstered? Wicker or solid? Open-backed or solid-backed? Padded or unpadded? With arms or without? There really are so many different styles. The point is, it’s important that you get in touch with your style so that you can narrow down your options.

Dining Table Set with Leaves

Thinking Purpose

For some, the dining table is just for dining because you have a formal dining room that’s used only for special occasions. For others, the dining table is used for everything from games and puzzles to meals and snacks to homework and business. It’s truly the “family table.” It’s where keys and purses get dropped and where book bags and laptops land.

Clearly, considering the purpose of your dining table before purchasing it can help you choose the appropriate size, material and style.

Thinking Size and Shape

Remember to consider the space that your dining table set will occupy. You certainly want to consider whether a round or oval shaped table would suit your space better than a rectangle or square piece. And it doesn’t hurt to literally grab a tape measure and write down some numbers before you shop.

Do you prefer a taller table with taller chairs, or a more traditional height? If your room is narrow, then consider a narrower table so that it’s easier to maneuver around the room. If you have a wide, open room, then you have a lot more options, obviously. Also consider whether you may be relocating in the future and what type of table would be best in a situation where you don’t know the size of your room yet. Choosing a table with removable leaves can offer more flexibility too, so think about that when you’re looking at options.

Dining Table Set with Pedestal Table

Think Comfort

Don’t forget to have a seat. Literally! Sit down at the table. Are the chairs comfortable? Are they too tall? Too short? Just right? (How many of you just went there? You totally just thought of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, right? Sorry for the bunny trail! …) Anyway, when you sit at the table, is it a comfortable height? Or does it feel awkward or uncomfortable? If you have little ones, will a high-chair comfortably fit?

Think Price

Finally, you’ve got to consider what you’re able and willing to spend on a dining table set. Take a look at your budget and come to an agreement with your partner about what you can spend. Again, this will help you narrow down your options as well.

Don’t Settle

One last thought I want to share with you is this: don’t settle! Don’t settle for something if you don’t absolutely love it! Remember, this dining table set will probably be a part of your life and your family’s life for quite a while, so it’s important that you really love it. You certainly don’t want to end up eating at a table every day that you regret buying. You want to be proud of the piece you buy and enjoy meals, family and friends around that table. So I’ll say it again: don’t settle!

Customizable Dining Table Set

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