Thursday, January 21, 2010


My most popular post on Decorati was the one on "How Many People Can Sit at a Dining Table?". Go figure.

Just as surprising was the number of people who contacted me about how high a dining table should be and asked me to post that info as well. So here you go....

A dining table should be no more than 30" high but a lot of really tall people argue for 31" and that's fine if all your friends are glamazons married to pro basketball players. But, for somone like me who's 5'6" tall on a good day, that's just too dang high.

With a 31" tabletop, I feel like a toddler who needs a kiddy-booster seat. So for the vertically challenged (like moi) and most other people, the perfect height for a dining table is between 29" and 30".

Luckily, most dining tables are 30" high or less. I've even seen some as low as 28".

The problem with going that low is the issue of leg clearance. This is a BIG DEAL that many people forget about when buying a table. And it's especially tricky if you have moderate to chubby thighs like yours truly. Ugh.

The thing to look at to determine leg clearance is the apron below the table top. If the apron doesn't give you at least 25 3/4" clearance for your legs, you may be dining on tatami mats.

Also, if you want to have enough clearance to CROSS your legs under the table, you'll need a full 30" of clearance. Antique tables rarely give you that much room. In fact, to get that much clearance you really need to have no apron at all. In antiques, the only tables that regularly feature no apron are English George III Sheraton pedestal tables like this one:

But even with this design, to have 30" of clearance the table's got to be at least 31" high (which as I said is a bit high for my tastes).

At the end of the day, a 30" table with a reasonably short apron should work best for 99% of people, so that would be my recommendation.


Vincent Jacquard said...

Italian tables are higher than the french ones because of eating spaghettis = closer to the mouth... That was the story when I grew up... Taller tables, high aprons are sometimes not made to seat around... Such as a library table, drapier table or a center table used in entry halls. French dining tables are 29'' high. Of course we are now taller and 30" are now the norm.
You are a well of knowledge! The evidence would enable us to arrive at firm conclusions. One can be surprise on how little our industry designers really know, and to the necessity to learn the basics.

MaryBeth said...

I know this post is from a long time ago but I just found your blog and was reading all the archives. I am having a new table made and was looking up proper heights. I wanted it on the lower side because I am short and my chairs happen to be short also but along came the problem of crossing my legs. So do you have any solutions other than chair pads (ugh!)? Thanks for all the entertainment this blog is offering me along with all the knowledge. MB