Thursday, June 4, 2009

How Many People Can Sit at a Dining Table?

I'm glad this question wasn't "How many angels can sit on the head of a pin?" Because I have no idea so help me God.

But I do know my dining tables, antique or otherwise. And when a client is looking at a particular table, they invariably ask, "Can this table fit ten people?" Here's how you answer that question.

FIRST, it depends on the shape of the table and I realize there are a million different variations on this:
Just to keep it simple, let's stick with two basic shapes: rectangular (No. 4 above) and round (No. 11 above). 

SECOND, depends how super-sized your guests' behinds are...oh, never mind, we'll just go with table shape.

Shown above, a 19th century mahogany and brass inlaid neoclassical dining table that sits 12 people very comfortably.

The general rule is that people need about 24 inches of width for dining table seating, but banquet room chairs will often work at 21 inches or even less (I've seen them at hotels measuring 17 1/2" wide and if you use chairs like this then 12 sardines can sit at a 6 foot round table).

Shown above, a 19th century French Directoire walnut dining table that can sit 1o people very comfortably.

So here are some general seating rules:
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 5 feet, sits 4-6 comfortably; if it's 5 feet round, up to 8 people comfortably;
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 6 feet, sits 6-8 comfortably; if it's 6 feet round, up to 10 people comfortably (if you use banquet chairs, you can squeeze 12 people);
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 7 feet, sits 8 very comfortably; if it's 7 feet round, 9-11 people comfortably;
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 8 feet, sits 8 very comfortably; if it's 8 feet round, up to 12 people comfortably;
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 9 feet, sits 10 comfortably; if it's 9 feet round, up to 14 people comfortably;
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 10 feet, sits 10 comfortably; if it's 10 feet round, up to 15 people comfortably;
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 11 feet, sits 10 very comfortably and 12 comfortably; if you have a round table this big, you're in the UN General Assembly Room and good luck;
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 12 feet, sits up to 12 very comfortably and up to 14 with narrower chairs; 
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 13 feet, sits 12-14 comfortably;
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 14-15 feet, sits 14 very comfortably and 16 if need be; 
  • If  rectangular and the table length is 16 feet, sits 16 very comfortably and 18 if need be. 
Shown below, a parquetry walnut and satinwood dining table (with later leaves) that measures up to 187 1/2" (about 15 1/2 feet) long and can sit 14 people very comfortably and 16 if need be:

Other little known dining table factoids that you might find useful:
  • The maximum height that you'd want for a dining table is 31" (30" high for a dining table is about average)
  • A critical measurement, especially with antique dining tables that have very big aprons is that you need at least 25 3/4" for roomy leg clearance and to cross your legs, you need 30" for a person 5'9" tall--generally, you don't have antique tables with clearance to cross legs and that's fine
  • A light fixture over a dining table should hang between 28-32" from the top of the table and the bottom of the fixture
Ok, Mr. Smarty Pants, if you're so smart then what's a 12-sided table called? Honestly, I had no clue until we got one in and had to look it up. It's called dodecagonal and here it is:


List price: $421,600 USD