Choosing the right shaped table can be tricky. While rectangular tables generally rule the roost, circular and oval tables can also be a great choice depending on the space and your style preferences.
The dining table is likely the most significant table in your house. It’s the focal point of the kitchen—or might even have a separate room dedicated to it. It’s a place where you can enjoy time with family and friends and might even be somewhere you prepare food, corral your children into doing their homework, or even work yourself, now that our homes have become our offices.
So what are the different shapes of dining tables? And what dining table shapes are best? Are round or square tables better? And how do you choose the right size dining table?
Whether you’re looking to furnish and decorate a formal dining room or you want a multipurpose kitchen table that works as well for weekday meals as it does for dinner parties, check out our guide to table shapes and sizes and choosing the best shape dining table for your needs. We also cover the important things to bear in mind when it comes to choosing a shape for coffee tables and occasional tables too.
What dining table shape is best?
Rectangular and square tables
Rectangular is the most conventional shape when it comes to dining tables—and for good reason. Most rooms are rectangular so the lines of a rectangular table echo that of the space itself and the effect is sleek and cohesive.
If you often entertain large numbers of guests, rectangular tables are ideal as they’re able to accommodate a lot of people. They can be contemporary or traditional and, given their length, they can also afford to be quite narrow. 70 cm wide still gives you enough space for seating placements and means you can be closer to the person opposite, making conversation more comfortable.
However, rectangular tables can look awkward in square rooms. Plus, if they’re too wide they can feel very formal and impersonal. To avoid the boardroom-meeting vibe, opt for a more casual design for your chairs.
You can also avoid the old-fashioned aesthetic by choosing an explicitly modern dining table, such as DAVIDSON’s Rivington with its contrasting finishes and geometry. The Westgate is another contemporary choice, with its monochrome colour scheme, acute angles, and sharp lines.
For a more understated silhouette, the Hamilton is a good option—elevated by its unique metallic detailing at the base. The Grace combines rectilinear lines with swooping curves for an original spin on the classic dining room silhouette. For something more lowkey and traditional, check out the Walton or Hatter.
Similar to rectangular tables, square dining tables are a chic and contemporary option and look best in square-shaped rooms. They’re also one of the best shape tables for small spaces. Some can be extended, if necessary, making them a versatile choice.
While bigger square tables can take up a lot of space, and people on opposite sides may find themselves too far apart to have a comfortable conversation, small square tables feel very intimate. They’re ideal for when you have only a few guests and sitting at a long rectangular table would feel odd. Another option is to have two square tables that can be placed together to create one big table when necessary.
Circular or round tables
For a more modern, cosy, and casual alternative to a rectangular dining table, definitely consider investing in a circular dining table. Curves are very on-trend right now and circular tables are a great choice for your kitchen table, as appropriate for breakfast as they are for dinner.
Round tables are perfect for parties as guests can talk to anyone, rather than just the person opposite, and there’s no head of the table either. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that a circular table will need to be at least 150 cm in diameter to fit more than four people around it.
Nevertheless, round tables are ideal for small gatherings and instances when you have an uneven number of guests as no one is left out. The soft silhouette is easy on the eye and there are no sharp corners for kids to bump their heads on.
However, if your room is quite small and rectangular, a circular table can look awkward. Plus, if it's a particularly big table, you may need to invest in a Lazy Susan to make reaching dishes easier.
One example of the beauty of round tables is the Decanter, part of DAVIDSON’s Wanderlust Collection, and a wonderfully whimsical design that will certainly be the talking point at your dinner party. Like the other tables in the collection, it’s available in different colours and sizes.
Another option is DAVIDSON’s award-winning Rosebery dining table whose majestic white gold base and glossy timber top makes it the perfect dining solution for any high-end home, able to seat up to 14 people.
A circular table could also function as a desk if you’re looking for something unconventional and unique. Traditional desks, such as the Mortimer or Tribeca, can look very stately but we can imagine the statement-making Spiraliser serving as a workstation during the day in a large open-plan kitchen.
Oval or elliptical tables
An oval dining table strikes the perfect balance between rectangular and circular. The length makes them as suitable for large dinner parties while the curved corners give them the soft flow of a circular table. An oval dining table looks great in rectangular rooms in particular, and if you choose one with a pedestal base, you can fit lots of people around it.
To see just how stylish an oval dining table can look, check out DAVIDSON’s boldly contemporary Empire dining table whose slimline top is wonderfully complemented by the rich warm sheen of the bronze finish. Or there’s the luxurious and ultra-glossy Ovington in a rich Macassar ebony—especially dazzling when decked with candles.
For the dream addition to a sleek and smart modern home, take a look at the Howes dining table, the result of a collaboration with Taylor Howes whose oval shape, with its continual loop is designed to reflect the theme of the passage of time.
What size should my dining table be?
Our top tips for determining the right size for your dining table:
- Consider how many people will typically be sat around the table. And how big are the chairs? This will help you determine how much space you need on each side of the table. Each person needs to be allocated around 2 feet of space to avoid bashing elbows.
- Then you want 3 feet extra on all sides between the table and the walls so there’s enough room for chairs and for people to move around the table easily.
- Use painter’s tape to block out an outline on the floor to get a sense of how it will work in the space. A bed sheet can also work well to help you envision how the table will look.
- Consider the legs as well as the tabletop. The table’s base influences how many people you can fit around it. Pedestals allow for more legroom and thinner legs might also mean you can fit an extra chair in if necessary.
Don’t forget about the chairs
No dining table is complete without chairs and the right chairs can really unify a room scheme. Opt for chairs in the same colour as the table for a seamless look or choose a more casual design to soften a traditional aesthetic. Armless chairs—like the Archer—allow you to fit more people around the table while curved chairs—such as the Goodchild or Winslet—can be used to soothe sharp corners. Transparent chairs are a good option to show off the legs of a dining table with a particularly eye-catching pedestal.
What shape of coffee table would suit my space?
Size and height aren’t the only things to consider when buying a coffee table. The shape is just as important. The right shaped coffee table can make or break a sitting room. If you have a high sofa with slim legs, for example, a chunky and solid rectangular coffee table is the perfect complementary furnishing—such as Davidson’s striking Melrose coffee table or the equally alluring Broadway.
Meanwhile, a round coffee table—such as the Chester—is ideal for those of you with small kids who have a tendency to bump into things. But while round square coffee tables can be high-impact style statements, they do tend to take up a lot of visual space. The Malibu coffee table is a great compromise: rectangular but with softly curving corners and cylindrical legs.
The best shape for occasional tables
Occasional tables are the perfect finishing touch to a room. Not only are they useful for displaying knick-knacks or adding extra lighting but they can also complement and enhance your existing furniture choices or perfectly fill an empty nook. The advantage of occasional tables is that, given their smaller size, you can experiment with different shapes and forms without the risk of the table overpowering or dominating the room.
Why not inject some colour and fun into your space with the Cylinder occasional table? Or mix curves and rectangles with the graceful Artesian? The Stanford is the epitome of elegance and the perfect accent for a room otherwise dominated by straight lines while the Tavistock is a more traditional but very refined choice.