Food. There's no escaping it. Your body craves it. Whether it's just a chance to refuel your day or a place to unwind with family and friends, food brings people together of all walks of life. And, almost every time you see food, there is the table upon which it is placed. Dining room tables can turn a blank space into a place for entertaining with the right table. Families gather nightly around the kitchen table to break bread and catch up on the days events. Dining tables are used so often that it is important to choose the right one for you and your family's needs. In this post, we will discuss how dining tables came to be, how they are made, and what to look for in a table.
Aristotle to Caesar to King Arthur
Placing food around a table dates back to Greek and Roman times. Typically these tables were square or rectangular, placed near the floor, and no chairs were used. Instead, diners would kneel or recline on the floor and enjoy their meals. Table would be constructed out of marble many times as well. Many times, the table would be put away after use in order to keep the room clean and functional for other activities. Around the time that the Roman Empire ruled, round tables began to be introduced. These had the benefit of a more informal dining experience without one person being at the “head” of the table. It was not until the Middle Ages that the table predominantly used today began to take shape. The nobility of the time would have vast banquet halls in order to house the entire extended family and all those in the court to dine together. Typically, the ruling family would sit at a rectangular head table made of wood raised on a dais. The other members of the court would sit in table arranged from there in order of rank or importance. During the Dark Ages, these extravagant dining halls gave way to smaller more parlour like rooms for a more intimate setting. The smaller setting became more popular for daily use and the dining halls then became reserved for special occasions. During the Victorian era did give rise to very ornately carved table and chairs, especially for the formal dining area. In modern times, families will often have an informal kitchen table and a more elegant dining table that mimics the flow from that era. Tables today are mostly constructed out of wood (more on that later) and range from ornately decorated to more simplistic design.
Glass, Marble, Wood, Oh My
In today's marketplace, tables are constructed out of many different materials and come in several different designs. When thinking about purchasing your first (or adding a second) table, keep in mind that each has their own pros and cons.
Glass- Glass top tables have a very modern look to them. They can come in different designs and dimensions. They are a great way to brighten up a room as well as they reflect back light. Today's glass tables are usually built with tempered glass so as not to break easily. However, you should be careful about scratching them and, if there are children around, those corner can get sharp. Not to mention that the glass top table can be difficult to move due to its' weight and concerns about harming it.
Marble- Marble top tables are a classic style that will never go out of favor. They can also give a more unique look to a dining area. However, these tables can be quite expensive to buy and maintain. You have to be careful to keep these tables covered, especially when staining food and drinks are served. In addition, marble tables weigh in among the heaviest available so moving them can be quite difficult.
Wood- The most prevalent in the market today, wood tables come in many variety and styles. When looking at owning a wood table, hardwoods are the best building material such as Cherry, Maple, Oak, and Poplar. Plywood, Cork board, and Press board options are available, but are not as sturdy and more prone to breaking. In addition, you can purchase a reclaimed wood table and not have to worry about nicks and scratches which have already been absorbed into the wood creating a nice finish. Costs for these tables can range from cheap to extremely expensive so be careful to know exactly what you are getting before buying. You do not want to pay hardwood prices for particle board.
Big and Small, Round and Rectangular, The Possibilities Abound
When looking at a Dining Table, it is also important to consider what type you are looking for. Tables come in several different shapes today.
Rectangular Tables- The most traditional shape, rectangular tables work well for dining and kitchen tables. Rectangular tables also can have the most leaves. A leaf in a table is another section that can be added or taken away. This allows the table to grow from 48 inches to as longs as 96 inches. Many tables today have a “butterfly leaf” where the leaf is stored inside the table top for easy placement. When looking at purchasing a table, measure your room and leave at least 36 inches of space for chairs to be pulled out and walking space. As far as seating, a general rule of thumb is to leave at least 24 inches of space for each person to sit comfortably.
Round Tables- Round tables provide a more intimate setting where people can all gather around. These tables are great for kitchen tables and/or small gatherings. Some round tables come with leaves, however, they will not be able to have as many as a rectangular table. Keep in mind that as the table gets larger, it does get harder for people to talk to each other across the table without shouting. When planning out seating, keep the same 24 inches of space minimum. In addition, here are some general guidelines based on the size of the table :
- 36 – 44 inch table = 4 people
- 44 – 54 inch table = 4 – 6 people
- 60 – 70 inch table = 6 – 8 people
Square Table- Great for small rooms and gatherings, square tables can provide a nice change from the rectangular or round tables. But, for larger rooms and gatherings, the square table takes up a lot more room and sacrifices table space. When planning, keep the same 24 inches of space for each seat as you would the rectangular table.
Prepare to Plate
Some of the greatest moments in our lives occur with food on the table. Just as it is important to think about what is served and how it is prepared, the same amount of attention should be placed when choosing the right table to fit your needs. Whether you need a large table for massive parties or a small table to fit your eclectic tastes, there is a table available for every need and want. Feel free to stop by our store where our trained staff will be happy to help you find the perfect table.