Dining room design should always be based on one central feature - the table. The primary function of the room is to provide a comfortable and relaxing place to eat. If you get the table size, shape and proportions relative to the room correct, then you're well on the way to having a useful and attractive room.
How many people?
Answer this question, and your dining room design will begin to take care of itself.
Now, you may know how many people you'd like to be able to seat comfortably, but will the room take that many people? Perhaps four or five is the usual number, but on occasion you'd like to entertain maybe eight, nine or more.
So to begin with, decide how many will normally use the room. Then work out what type and size of table you'll need.
To help you decide, here are some typical table sizes for varying numbers of people.
Seating for 4 persons
When planning your seating you need to know how much room to allow between the table and the nearest wall. Remember, you'll need room to move the chairs away from the table with enough room for people to sit down easily. The size shown on the diagram is an optimum measurement (3'6") - you might be able to get away with less, but don't push it too far!
The smallest size for a table for four people is about 3'0" square.
Round tables actually take up less room because of the lack of corners, and the minimum diameter is about 3'3". If your space is limited, round tables are worth considering.
Seating for 6 persons
To comfortably seat more people and get your dining room design right you'll need a larger table.
Notice that when using a rectangular table for six, the room doesn't have to be any wider than using a table for four, as the table width is still the same. You can certainly get away with a smaller length then 6'0", but your guests won't have the optimum amount of room.
Whereas a rectangular table fits well into longer room, if your room is more square, then a round table would be ideal. Here the minimum diameter to comfortably seat six people is 3'9".
Seating for 8 + persons
Although you can have a long rectangular table about 3'0" wide, it looks better if it's a bit wider, perhaps 3'6". These proportions give a more satisfactory look.
You'll need a longer room for this to work well, unless you have a very large room to use for your dining room design.
Again, if you have a large square room, then a round table might be your best option.
One advantage of round tables is that you can add additional guests more easily than with a rectangular table.
Tables for all occasions
When selecting a table for your dining room design, you actually have more options than you might think. Many tables, both rectangular and round, come in adjustable sizes. They have central sections which can extend the table.
Rectangular tables without the centre section can be square, say 3'6" square. Then when the central section is added, the table is now 3'6" wide by 6'0" long. You now have a table which in its smaller size is suitable for family meals, then when opened out is ideal for entertaining your guests.
Round tables can function in a similar way. When extended you have a long table with 'D' shaped ends.
Some table designs have central sections which cleverly slide underneath the table when not in use. With others the central section is removed and stored away in a separate location.
Once you have your table, the rest will follow.
Your table will now affect your overall dining room design. Whether it's a mahogany Georgian style table, or one based on French farmhouse influence, you can now put together the other elements in the room.
The main message is - always consider your table first, and not as an insignificant 'extra' once the room has been finished.