Dining room tables are the social hotspots of any home, so the shape is key. But which is best for your home, rectangle or round? The dining room table is often where friends and family gather for special events, holidays, or simply for a quality home-cooked meal. But choosing the perfect dining room table that suits your needs and aesthetic might not be as simple as it seems.
The most common battle in choosing a dining room table is shape: rectangular vs. round. Both are adequate choices. Whether or not one is right for you depends on a series of factors, including the shape of your dining room, how many people you want to seat at the table on average, and the everyday purpose of the table.
Here we provide a cohesive list of determining factors that will allow you to determine what you are truly looking for in a dining room table and whether or not a rectangular or round table is best for you and your family or friends. Ultimately, you want a table that will compliment your dining room and fits your personal preference, lifestyle, and aesthetic.
Round vs. Rectangle Dining Room Table
Before committing to a dining room table, there are a few things to keep in mind. Up next, we’ll outline key factors that will help steer you toward the right shape of the dining room table: round vs. rectangle.
The Shape of Your Dining Room
The shape of your dining room is probably the most important factor in regard to which shape your dining room table should be. So naturally, it is being discussed first.
If the shape of your dining room is juxtaposed by the shape of your dining room table, the room will feel unbalanced. This can also affect the overall functionality and space within the room if the two shapes are not aligned.
A rectangular dining room table is best suited for a rectangular room or long, narrow spaces. These tables tend to be a bit bigger than round tables, and you don’t want a large rectangular table in a small round dining room.
If this occurs, it is likely that the room will feel even smaller because the corners of the table are likely to cut off space in the room.
Rectangular dining room tables are also exceptional choices for homes with an open floor plan. The table functions as a divider between spaces while still being complementary to the overall aesthetic.
Round tables are best suited for square or round dining rooms. These tables tend to be a bit smaller and will help you to maximize space in a room without becoming overbearing.
Although a round table could theoretically work in a rectangular room, the mishmash of shapes isn’t typically appealing. You aren’t likely to gain all the desired functionality out of the space and the table with this pairing.
Therefore, if you have a square dining room and you want ample space to move around the table, it should be round.
Size of Dining Room
Behind the shape of your dining room, the size is almost equally important when determining which shape is best suited for your space. If you have a large dining room table in a small room, you are likely to cut off space and limit mobility.
But, once you factor the table’s shape into the equation, it is possible that your dining room table will be too close to the walls, and guests will have difficulty moving around, getting up, pulling their chair back to sit down.
It is recommended that you allow at least 42 inches between the table’s edge and any walls or furniture in the room for maximum comfort.
These tables are the best option if you have a large dining room and want your table to take up a substantial amount of space but still allow room for mobility.
Having a rectangular table in a large dining room will help the room feel more inviting rather than under-decorated or unwelcoming. If you place a rectangular table in a small dining room, it will dominate the room overbearingly and limit available space.
If you have a small dining room, it is recommended that you get a round dining table. This shape will compliment the space and exude a comforting vibe.
Conversely, if you place a round dining room table in a large dining room, it might feel underwhelming. Since rectangular tables are typically larger, you don’t need to search far to find one suited to the room. But you might have difficulty finding a large enough round table to fill the room and balance out space.
The primary purpose of a dining room table is to seat people, and the average amount of people you intend to have seated will largely impact which shape your table should be.
Whether it is a small family of four, a larger group gathering of 8, or a massive family reunion of 30, you want to be able to comfortably seat everyone at your table so you can dine and chat together.
Because rectangular tables tend to be a bit bigger, they are best suited for seating large groups of five or more.
If your family tends to sit at the dining room table every night for dinner and there or at least five members, or you frequently host social gatherings and want the table to be where everyone convenes, then you are better off getting a rectangular table.
If you rarely seat more than four people at your dining room table, then a round table is the best option. This way, everyone at the table will most likely have adequate space without feeling like they are a significant distance away from each other.
If a small group of people is sitting around a rectangular table, it is likely that they will either set too far apart, or a portion of the table will be unused in their efforts to sit closer to one another.
Apart from seating people, another major function of the dining room table is holding objects, such as games, food, or even work supplies.
The necessary surface capacity will rely on many other factors mentioned in this list, such as the purpose of your table and the number of people you aim to seat there. Regardless, the amount of potential capacity of the table and accessibility of these objects can play a key role in the most suitable shape.
If you prioritize easy access for anything placed on the table, especially if this includes dishes for a large dinner, or pieces of a fast-paced, hands-on game, you might want to side with a rectangular table.
These tables are typically narrower than rounds tables, so it is easier to reach across and access something that might otherwise be out of reach. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost.
Narrower rectangular tables have less surface capacity and, therefore, less space for all of your plates, cups, dishes, and other necessities at mealtime.
Round tables can potentially have more space and surface capacity than a rectangular table. Because they aren’t as narrow and don’t have corners, it is easier to place objects on the table.
However, due to the shape of these tables, it can be exceedingly difficult for someone seated at one point to access an object completely across from them. If you typically keep objects or shareable food items in the middle of the table, such as fondue or Chinese hot pot, this is a sound option.
But, if you fill the surface capacity and want it all easily accessible, this might not be the best choice.
You don’t want your dining room table to flatter the space you’re in. You also want it to be comfortable.
Nothing can be more irritating than sitting at a cramped table where you are two inches from your neighbor, and you have to sit stiff as a rod to prevent yourself from knocking knees and elbows.
To prevent such unpleasantries, be aware of what you prioritize when it comes to dining room table space and be mindful of how many people you typically seat at a time, as previously mentioned.
It has been stated that, when seated, each person should have approximately 24″ of length and 12″ of width to have ample space to eat comfortably.
As a result of its long and narrow shape, this is most easily achieved with a rectangular table. Those who use their dining room table primarily for eating large meals should invest in a rectangular table, so you have ample room for food as well as space to eat.
Arm room isn’t everything when it comes to sitting at a table. Sometimes, your lower half is as, if not more important. If you want a table with ample legroom, then a round pedestal table is the optimal choice.
The average dining table is 30″ high, and most chairs are between 17″–19″ high. Ideal comfort for leg space is typically achieved when there is at least 12″ between the tabletop and the top of the chairs’ seats. This is most easily achieved with a round pedestal table that provides this space and more.
A dining room table is only as good as its chairs. The table might look lovely in your dining room, but if there isn’t enough room for seating, then the table is no better than a large shelf.
The size of the dining room plays a significant role in whether or not you should purchase a rectangular or round dining room table, but sometimes you can cut corners with the type of seating depending on which table you have.
These tables are best suited for larger rooms, but if you have a smaller dining room and passionately want a rectangular table, don’t lose hope. There’s still a way. If you don’t mind a more laid back tone to your dining experience, you can opt for benches rather than individual chairs when you purchase a rectangular table.
Not only are benches great for legroom, but you won’t have to pull them out or push them in as much as a normal chair. Plus, when everyone has gone, you can tug the bench underneath the table for easy storage.
Although round tables aren’t conducive to benches, you can still cut corners using bar stools. Again, this implies you want a more casual vibe to your dining room and most likely use it for small social gatherings or games.
Bar stools might not be as easy to tuck and store under the table as a bench, but many are made more minimally with smaller (or no) backrests, and they typically lack armrests as well.
As a result, they take up less space in the room and are less likely to inhibit mobility in the room.
The dining room table can be a versatile space you use for a myriad of activities. Some families eat all of their meals in the dining room, while others have a separate kitchen table for this.
Some dining room tables are used exclusively for large gatherings, and some are smaller to accommodate an individual that does remote work here. Reflect on what you want the primary purpose of your dining room table to be before you make your final decision.
Based on all the previous factors mentioned, rectangular tables are best suited for entertainment and social gatherings. They are typically more accommodating for large meals and will allow more people ample space when seated.
Rectangular tables are also the best choice for large families that eat in the dining room daily. If you mostly want a dining room table that will hold objects or you rarely have large gatherings, a rectangular table is probably not for you.
A round table lends itself well to smaller families or activities such as office work where there is only one individual using the table at a time. Round tables have ample space for supplies or food items without making a large portion of that space feel wasted or unused.
Whereas rectangular tables are suited for large social gatherings, round tables are suited for smaller, more intimate groups of guests.
Dining room tables are typically gathering places for individuals ranging from immediate family to distant relatives to close friends. Here, you can share exceptional food, engage in mindful conversation, and make life-lasting memories.
However, you might not have considered that the shape of your dining room table could ultimately alter the social vibe and how people interacted when seated here. The shape of a dining room table can be instrumental in bringing people together or pushing them away.
A rectangular table is, without a doubt, the most traditional choice and most common shape for a dining room table.
We have discussed how this table lends well to large social gatherings and seating groups over 5. Still, even though rectangular tables can seat the most people, that doesn’t necessarily make them the most social-friendly in terms of inclusion.
Picture yourself seated in the middle of the table, and an individual at one of the heads is speaking.
You instinctively turn your head towards them to engage in the conversation, but in the process of turning towards them, you have simultaneously blocked out the other half of the table.
Rectangular tables are notorious for separating large groups into smaller subgroups rather than making all guests feel like they can interact as one.
The distance between guests around the long narrow space allows and encourages private conversations between neighbors more easily than if they were at a round table.
Although they are not typically the primary choice of dining room tables, round tables have an extremely cozy, intimate, and comforting aura that rectangular tables sometimes lack.
Rather than spacing people out along a long, narrow space, round tables keep them close together. It is much easier for a group to engage collectively in a conversation around a round table because turning rarely shuts out other members. Their proximity of seating makes it easier to hear what’s being said.
Side conversations are also not as easily achieved at a round table because individuals are seated closer and are more likely to hear what is attempted to be said privately. Therefore, if you cherish and prioritize group interactions as a whole, then a round table is the best option.
Dining Room Design or Aesthetic
If you take pride in the overall design and aesthetic of your dining room, and the dining room table is the last piece to your masterful puzzle, then you’ll want to be sure it fits the overall aesthetic of the room.
Design choices such as the shape of light fixtures, patterns on the walls, geometric themes, or room decor could be accentuated or diminished by the shape of the dining room table.
Because the table is such a significant focal point and likely the first thing someone looks at when they enter the dining room, it is essential that it matches the design and aesthetic of the dining room to bring everything together as one cohesive look.
In terms of design, a rectangular table will best suit a dining room that has been decorated with a very sharp, clean, and straight line. Most modern designs are built around this aesthetic, which is why rectangular tables are so popular.
The elements surrounding the table are important, as well. If the walls are painted a solid color, and the surrounding furniture is also square or rectangular, then it is best to match this shape for the sake of consistency.
Light fixtures with straight lines will also complement a rectangular dining table more other spherical or creative shapes.
Round tables are great accent pieces to a dining room and can be perfect for a minimalist design. If the light fixtures and surrounding furniture and décor have a curvier or more spherical shape, then it is best to flatter this design choice with a round table.
If your wall or light fixtures are also spherical, then it would be best to have a round table beneath or in the midst of them rather than a rectangular one that might create a slightly chaotic or disorganized aesthetic.
Structural elements within a dining room are largely dependent on the shape of the room itself. However, this is not always the case, and when the room size does not match structural elements, such as beams and archways, then you can make a choice of which you would prefer to prioritize, either the shape of the room for space or the structural accents for design.
Some dining rooms might have structural elements that fit into both of these categories, in which case you should choose your preferred aesthetic.
Like how you would match a rectangular table with design choices that feature sharp, straight, clean lines, the same goes for any structural elements accented in the room.
For instance, if there is an open floor plan in your home and the doorways into the dining room are rectangular, then a rectangular table is fitting here. Additionally, a common design trend in homes is wooden ceiling beams.
These beams are typically ornamental, but if there is one in your dining room, it is best complemented with a rectangular table.
Round tables would look best in a room that might have arched doorways to further accentuate both of these elements for the room’s overall aesthetic. Additionally, if there are any cylindrical columns in or around the dining room area, then you will want a round table over a rectangular one.
Children and Pets
A factor you might not have considered is the relationship between your beautiful dining room table and your small children or family pets.
This might not be the primary reasoning behind your choice of a round table versus a rectangular table, but it is something to consider if you have one or both of these little beings roaming around.
Rectangular tables might not be the safest choice if you have small children in the house. Structurally, they have four prominent corners that a child could fall into and harm themselves.
You could always child-proof the table with the cushions for the table corners, but this isn’t necessarily an aesthetically pleasing addition to your nice dining room table. Additionally, rectangular tables have more legs that children, or even adults, could knock into or trip over as a potential home hazard.
Round tables, especially circular tables, are typically pedestal tables meaning there is only one structural beam in the center of the table rather than four peg legs.
Pets, especially young puppies, are notorious for chewing things they aren’t supposed to, and table legs are a popular choice.
With a pedestal round table, it wouldn’t be as much of a concern that your furry friend would damage the wood of the table because it is unlikely they would be able to fit their mouths around the pedestal beam.
Sometimes, at the end of the day, what this decision comes down to is a personal preference.
Maybe you had a round table growing up, so it is a matter of nostalgia. Or one shape is more visually appealing to you than the other and fits the aesthetic of your dining room more.
Frankly, the decision could come down to something as simple as the store having an overbearing number of rectangular tables, so it was easier to choose from that selection. Regardless, there’s no shame in merely choosing a dining room table because you liked the way it looked.
Ask for Guidance
Another reasonable option when it comes to determining which table shape is the most appropriate would be to consult someone that is skilled in interior design or sells dining room tables daily.
They will likely ask you about many of the factors listed here. Still, extra guidance and reassurance can be helpful in coming to a final conclusion, especially when consulting an expert.
You don’t have to be at a loss when determining if a rectangular or round dining room table is right for you.
You can consider all or even a few of the criteria mentioned above a are guaranteed to choose a table that will fit your needs and the overall aesthetic and space of your dining room.
Remember to consider more unlikely factors, such as what method of seating would fit best for the table’s purposes and the space of the dining room.
The main factors we recommend considering are whether it suits your needs in terms of how many people can sit there, how easily you can move around it and doesn’t it match the design of the dining room.
Regardless of everything on this list, the most important factor in choosing a dining room table is that you enjoy it. It is a source of heartwarming memories and experiences that make this brain wracking decision worthwhile.