How Much Space Should There be Between Chairs at the Dining Table?

Space Between Chairs at the Dining Table
Hosting a dinner party can already be a stressful experience, but it can be made worse by not having enough space. Dinner is much less enjoyable when people are crammed and bumping elbows while they eat.

As the host, you want to ensure that your guests are comfortable and that your dinner party goes off without a hitch. In this guide, we'll go over the correct spacing for different types of chairs.

Dining Chair Distances: Tips and Ideas

So let's get right to it: How much space should there be between chairs at dining table?

For your everyday, more casual dining like weeknight dinners with the family, the minimum spacing you should have is 20 inches to 24 inches of space between chairs. If you're planning more formal meals and dinners (like holiday dinners) or you have dining chairs with arms, you might want a bit more space — around 30 inches should provide enough room in these scenarios.

Another way some experts look at distances between chairs is by focusing on the the space between the center point of one chair and the center point of the one next — this distance should be at least two feet.

These rules fit with both dining room tables and counter height tables (if you're thinking about how to arrange seating at a breakfast bar).

Now let's dive into a few more details for specific types of chairs and arrangements.

Chairs With Arms

A dining chair with arms will require more space to make sure that guests don't feel trapped or caged in. There needs to be enough room between the chairs for guests to slide out when they need to. If the chairs are too close together, the guests can be trapped at the table.

Dining Chair with Arms
You should leave around 30 inches between chairs with arms

As a good rule of thumb, there should be around 30 inches of space between arm chairs around a table.

Thirty-or-so inches between chairs will create a setup that's perfect for more formal dinners and ensures that your guests have enough room to move around, eat and converse. It'll also ensure that your chairs aren't scraped and bumped as people get up from the table.

Chairs Without Arms

When planning how many chairs without arms you can fit around a dining table, you need to consider elbow room so that your guests can comfortably use cutlery as well as turn to each other to chat without bumping arms.

Dining Chairs without arms
There should be around 24 inches between armless dining chairs

As a good rule of thumb, a minimum space of around 24 inches between the chairs should be enough room. If you mix and match chairs around your table, aim to leave at least 24-30 inches between chairs.

An Alternative to Dining Room Chairs

If you're not sold on traditional chairs, or you're looking to do something different, dining benches could be a good option.

Benches can be a practical choice as you can buy benches that have storage space you can use. It can also make your dining table look less cluttered. Benches can easily be slipped under the table and create more room in the dining room — this is particularly helpful if you have a smaller room.

Dining Table Bench
Benches offer an alternative seating option

Benches are a great fit if you want to create a more casual dining experience and maximize seating availavle in your space. Of course, this only works if your guests are okay with being a little closer together.

Remember to measure your table before you buy your bench. Ideally, the bench should be as long as the length of the dining table or slightly shorter.

How Much Room Do You Need Around a Dining Room Table?

It can be tempting to buy the first dining table to catch your eye, but you might find it doesn't fit in your dining room. You need to know how much floor space you have available before choosing a table and chairs.

The dining table's distance from the walls or any other furniture should be at least 36″ . Calculating how big of a dining table you need is fairly simple :

  • Measure the length and width of the room and subtract 6 feet from each of the measurements. This will give you the maximum size you can have for a square or rectangular dining table.
  • For example, if your dining room is 12 feet x 11 feet, then a 6 feet x 5 feet dining table is the largest dining table that you will be able to comfortably fit in your room and floor space.
  • This allows for 3 feet of space between the table and doorways and walls. This makes it easy for guests to easily get in or out of the table when they need to.

Keep other large pieces of furniture in mind when completing this calculation. If you have any large pieces of furniture in your dining area, you must take them into account and ensure they're also at least 36" from the table.

For example, if you have a credenza against a wall behind your table, you'll need to make sure the table is placed at least 36" from the credenza, rather than just 36" from the wall.

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How high should a chair be for a dining table?

How high your chairs are should depend on how high the table is. A standard dining room table is 30 inches high. With a table this size, the standard chair height is 18 inches high. This is just the seat height; the seat back height will be between 32 and 34 inches.

For a counter height table you'll want to look for bar or counter stools.

Do chairs have to match a dining table?

Your dining room table and chairs don't have to match. In fact, the chairs don't even have to match each other. Matching chairs will look great, but mismatched chairs can also look just as good. They'll make the dining room look lively and fresh. Mixing and matching can add contrast and make dinner that much more interesting.

Should I have a bench at the dining table?

Having a bench at the dining room table can be a great choice and be very practical if you have a smaller space.

You should also consider how the table will be used when you're not dining at it — a bench might not be practical if the table is used for work, but it can work for actual dining. If you have an open-concept floor plan, the bench can make the room flow better.

How many dining chairs do I need?

It's fairly simple to work out how many chairs you have dining table space for. This method works for a square or rectangular dining table.

Divide the size of the tabletop by 24 inches. This is how much space between chairs at the dining table you need to have for guests to sit comfortably.

The number you get is how many chairs you can fit on one side. So if the table is 48 inches, you can fit two chairs on one side. Double this number to include the other side, so you have four chairs. And finally, add two more chairs for the ends.

So for this table, six chairs are the ideal number of chairs that can fit at the table comfortably.

Written by
Ash Read
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
Ash Read
Written by
Ash Read
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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