Dining in with style

Whether it’s relaxed brunches with the kids or glamorous dinner parties for the grown-ups, gathering your favourite people around the dining table has to be one of life’s simple pleasures.

With the focus moving out of formal dining rooms and into the kitchen, most tables will now be used for both everyday use and special occasions, which means striking the balance between form and function. And, of course, size matters.

“When choosing dining table and chairs the obvious things to bear in mind are the space you have and how you are going to use it,” says Sean Galligan, marketing director of Dwell. “Is it a statement piece or is it a something that’s going to get a lot of use and, if so, who by? It’s important to think about what space you have and work from that,” says Gemma Montague, UK stylist for BoConcept.

“Ideally people want a bigger table to sit more people for dinner parties however space can often be tight. A good way around this is investing in an extendable table which is smaller for the majority of time but bigger when you need it. We try to encourage customers to look at furniture that has more than one function and that can be adapted to fit changing needs.”

BoConcept have a range of extendable tables that can sit up to 18 people, with the Butterfly design a best-seller. “When working out the size of table you need, allow 600mm per person down the sides and another 300mm at each end to make room for the place settings. As an example, the ideal size of a table for eight would be 2400mm long and at least 900mm wide,” advises interior designer Mary Leslie.

Style wise, your choice of table will depend on the decor of the room. Help create the illusion of space by choosing glass or light wood. Or opt for a heavy solid wood table for a dining room with drama.

“In terms of style and finish, a quality table with a classic look is always a good choice as it should last forever and will fit in with your changing interior design,” says Gemma. “Chairs should be comfortable and are items that you can be more adventurous with. For example, if you have a plain table, why not go for bright chairs? Or if you want to stick with a classic look, then upholstered chairs are the height of luxury in terms of comfort and style. Cord is very on trend at the moment.”

Julie Cowling, John Lewis’ assistant buyer in living and dining, says mixing and matching chairs is becoming more popular: “Customers are becoming more daring in their selection. Coloured dining chairs, be it upholstered or plastic, help to add life to a more conservative dining table,” says Mary. “When choosing chairs think how comfortable they will be,” she adds. “And if you have upholstered chairs it’s fun to have loose covers in a light fabric for the summer and tight darker fabric for the winter.”