Guide to buying dining room furniture

Whether you plan on throwing lavish dinner parties or just want the family together at the table, getting the layout and design of your dining room right is essential in creating an inviting, comfortable and relaxed eating space.

Guide to buying dining room furniture

Pic: Getty

Here are our top tips for achieving the style, design and layout that best suits your needs.

Before you rush to the nearest furniture retailer and 'fall in love' with a particular style, you've got to consider the space itself. It's no good picking a banqueting table and finding there's barely room for your guests.

To ensure you're not going too big and to find the best position for your furniture, mark out the area of your ideal table with paper on the floor. Try to allow a metre between table and wall to allow for chairs and for you to move around behind guests. If you have room for storage such as a dresser or sideboard, allow for space to open the doors with guests seated - there's nothing worse than asking people to move once the meal is in full swing.

As with any decor, what type of furniture you choose will come down to your personal taste and the style of your home.

A solid wood table not only adds a little rustic charm to your room, it's also practical as it's easy to sand and refinish when the inevitable knocks and spills occur. Veneer is a cheaper alternative that's also easy to fix. With this casual dining look, you can even choose mix and match chairs, allowing you to potentially save money on your furniture budget.

If the room is small, a glass-topped table can give the impression of space, while refectory style tables will make the most of a long and narrow area, but beware those with bench seats as these can be impractical and, perhaps more importantly, punishing for host and guests alike.

Polished, dark wood furniture will provide that sumptuous, rich feel, but comes with expensive repairs if damaged and can make the room appear smaller. For those modern minimalists among you, high gloss white offers clean lines to match the rest of your furnishings, not to mention an easy-clean finish that's ideal if you have a young family.

For open plan kitchen/dining areas, consider the surroundings when choosing your furniture. Co-ordinating the colours and materials will help to draw the two areas together, but you can also use furniture to separate the two rooms. For example, high back chairs will naturally section off the dining area, while their low-backed alternatives open up the space.

If you have the space, some sort of storage unit is an added bonus in the dining room. A dresser, with cupboard for all your finest crockery and serving dishes as well as display shelves for your designer bits and bobs is the ideal, but the sideboard has most definitely seen a resurgence of late. Not only is it practical in terms of storage, it is long and lean, allowing you to minimise the impact on the space or create a useful partition between kitchen and dining areas.

Space-saving solutions
If space is limited, you might be tempted to forget the dinner parties and use the room for something else. But with so many space saving solutions on the market there's no need to give up your sociable eating plans.

A round table is ideal for family meals and will fit cosily into a smaller room, but for entertaining purposes, too many seated at a round table can prove a problem when there are lots of conversations going on.

Occasional foodie entertainers might be better advised to make the most of their space with an extending dining table. Drop-leaf or drawer-leaf tables allow you to seat more guests, while folding away for family time.