Round vs Rectangular Dining Tables: How to Choose the Best for Your Space

Round vs Rectangular Dining Tables

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The decision between a round or rectangular dining table is something that many homeowners will face when decorating their homes.

And with over 30 years in the interior design industry — creating designs and unique tablescapes across the world — I know all too well the importance of picking the right dining room table for your space.

Whether you're looking to replace your existing dining table or add to your new home, this guide on round vs. rectangular dining room tables will help you find the right shape for the space you have available.

The dining room table is a focal point, where guests or family members get together to enjoy food and good company. And the shape of your dining table can influence not just the way your room looks and feels, but also how you and your guests may interact.

Here’s what you need to know about round and rectangular dining tables:

Round Dining Tables: What You Need to Know

Round Dining Table

A round dining table works great in smaller rooms, where space is limited. Perhaps you have a small apartment where dining space is extremely restricted or it could be that you have a combined kitchen-dining room or a studio living room dining space — in these instances a circular table could make perfect sense.

With round dining tables, you create a great dining experience for small groups of people even if space is at a premium. A round table makes the most sense when you've got a square room or areas where space is a concern.

The rounded edges take up less space, and you won't have the painful experience of bumping into sharp corners due to the limited space.

Pros and Cons of Round Dining Tables

Pros:

  • Round tables are great space-saving tables. They're ideal where space is limited as they tend to have a smaller surface area than a rectangular or square dining table.
  • They make excellent settings for small gatherings of people if you want a more intimate feel, and it helps everyone around the table feel closer to one another. Round tables also allow for easier conversation with small groups of people as everyone can easily converse across the table.
  • Round tables allow for easy, "family-style" meals where everyone can share and pass plates with easy access to all items.
  • The pedestal base most round tables have leaves more legroom for people sat around your table.

Cons:

  • The larger the table, the more distant you are from the center, so it becomes more difficult for groups to converse when sat around a large round table.
  • Round tables often do not have the advantage of adding extension leaves, so you are limited to the number of people you can sit comfortably. They also can’t sit flush against the wall like a square or rectangular one.
  • Because of the round edges, you also lose tabletop space.For round tables, they tend to be the most efficient when it comes to limited space. If the dining rooms in question have little wiggle room, it's a good idea to invest in this furniture type. They help to save space where it's needed.

Rectangular Dining Tables: What You Need to Know

Rectangular Dining Table

A rectangular dining table is one of the most common pieces of dining room furniture and it’s what most people opt for.

Rectangular tables tend to be the best for larger groups of people. If you're someone who enjoys hosting large parties or you're looking for a more formal feel, then it's worth looking at rectangular shapes for a new table.

Pros and Cons of Rectangular Dining Tables

What are the pros and cons of tables that are rectangular in shape? As opposed to round tables, there are a number of benefits and disadvantages to this type of table shape.

Pros:

  • Rectangular tables are great for large gatherings of people. When you're needing to cater to more guests, this table shape allows for more seating.
  • They often come with extenders so the size can be adjusted accordingly. This can also mean you have different options when it comes to dining table height.
  • They allow for the maximum amount of surface space, so they are great for place setting and tablescaping.
  • There's a growing popularity for extendable dining tables and these are only really available as rectangular tables.

Cons:

  • Rectangular tables tend to take up more room, so they are not ideal for smaller spaces.
  • Although they can accommodate more people, you can lose the intimate feel and ability to easily converse with everyone at the table.

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What Should You Consider When Deciding on a Round or Rectangular Dining Table

There are four key factors that you should be thinking about when you're looking at a new table:

Shape

The shape of your room is one that you'll match up with the proportions of your table. Square tables aren't going to necessarily work in a room that's on a weird angle or has very little square foot. And round tables aren't always the best fit for large rectangular rooms.

Space

The space that a table takes up should also be considered. You may have a fairly small dining room so as a result, you will find a table that’s the appropriate size — maybe a bistro or four-seat table. Likewise, in a large rectangular dining room you have more space to play with and therefore enough room for a larger table.

Once you decide which shape and size table works best for your space, then you must consider the design aesthetic you would like to achieve in the space. Also consider how often this table will be used and by whom? Does the table need to be kid-friendly and made of durable materials that will be used daily? Or will it only be used for special occasions?

Social interaction

Social interaction is a key part of dining rooms and the dining table can influence how easy or difficult it is for guests/family members to interact. A larger table can make a guest feel further away, whereas a small table may invade personal space too much. If you host many dinner parties or special occasions, you’ll want to consider this as part of your decision-making process.

If you host many dinner parties or special occasions, you’ll want to consider this as part of your decision-making process.

The most important thing to consider before buying a new dining table is the size of your room and number of guests you will plan to have. Then sit at the table and decide whether this piece can accommodate your needs and if you can easily envision your guests gathering and coming together around it for a wonderful dining experience.

Dining Table Style

Finally, consider the table's material and design. For example, glass will create a different look to a wooden table. You should also consider the color of the table, the textures, and the materials that are used. It's also helpful to look at dining table decor and how that influences the look of the space.

You’re All Set to Make Your Choice

Thanks so much for checking out this guide and you should now have all the information you need to make your choice between a round or rectangular dining table. From my years working in interior design, I’d say the two most important considerations are the space size and the typical number of guests you will often seat.

From my years working in interior design, I’d say the two most important considerations are the space size and the typical number of guests you will often seat.

Round tables are excellent for smaller spaces with less room and intimate dinner settings. Rectangular tables do the opposite, providing accommodation for bigger groups and bigger spaces.

It's also useful to work out how much space you'll need to leave around your table to avoid guests having to suck themselves in or knocking themselves or the table when they're moving around. As a rule of thumb, a recommendation of 30" -32" inches around the table will allow plenty of room to move the dining chairs and to sit comfortably.

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Round vs Rectangular Dining Table FAQs

What's Better for Socializing?

A round dining table is perfect if you prefer a smaller, more intimate feel as it allows your guests to easily converse with everyone at the table and share a "family-style" meal together.

For larger parties, a rectangular table is best. Although it is not as easy to converse with everyone at the table, it does provide more room for seating, making it a more comfortable experience for larger groups.

How Does the Dining Table Shape Impact the Mood of Your Space?

Selecting the correct shape can significantly impact the mood of the space. Tables that are too small or the wrong shape appear awkward in the room. If guests can't sit comfortably, then it makes for a less than enjoyable experience. So, determining the proper shape of your table can definitely impact the mood.

Which Takes Up More Space, a Round or Rectangular Table?

Rectangle tables take up most space, even if within a bigger room. On the other hand, round tables are often used to cater to small spaces but still, if in the wrong place or size, they can feel cramped.

When Should You Use a Round Dining Room Table?

It makes the most sense to use a round dining table when you have limited space and plan on having small gatherings instead of large ones.

Wilfredo Emanuel is an award winning interior designer, architecture tablescaping master and star of Table Wars on Discovery+.

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