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The dining table

Find your perfect fit

A dining table is a centerpiece like no other piece of furniture. It’s going to see you through years of great memories and good times. Meals you’ll share with your family and your best friends. It’s where you’ll celebrate Christmas dinners, linger over long lunches and chat your way through sociable brunches. So it’s worth taking time to make the right choice. 

Here’s a little help in finding a table that’s the perfect fit – for your home, your lifestyle and your space.

Size it up

The first consideration is, how much space do you have to play with? If you hanker after a statuesque number like the rectangular Balmoral, you need a room with proportions that can accommodate it. If you squeeze a handsome table like this it into a too-small space, it won’t have room to shine. Your guests won’t be able to move chairs out easily and your room will feel on the cramped side.

That’s when a more compact style such as the Harrogate – still reassuringly solid, but with scaled down dimensions – comes to the fore. Conversely, if you live in a home with lots of space and high ceilings, a slim, petite table with refined legs and fine detailing, such as the Sheldrake, could look too slight.

The newspaper trick

Even in this age of CAD drawings, this old-school trick is still a helpful way to judge if a table is a good fit. Tape together some pages from last Sunday’s broadsheets. (We advise you double check the sports section has been read first…) Measure out the width and length of the table you like, and cut or fold the paper to that size. Now you have the exact dimensions of said table to lay out on your floor. Next, arrange a set of chairs around that cut-out.

Does it seem too small? Or maybe a bit too long for the space? Remember that your dining chairs will tuck in a little under the table top. However, it’s important that each chair has space to be pulled out, so that guests can get in and out easily. Ideally, a person should be able to walk around all the chairs while they are all occupied.

The real thing

Combine this with a visit to a showroom. A bit like love at first sight, as soon as you see it, you’ll know if it’s right. Up close and personal, you can appreciate the true tone of a particular timber. It’s when the gently turned base of the Sheldrake can be compared with the curved legs on the Henley. You’ll appreciate how the swallowtail joint on the Wardley differ from the more traditional detailing on the Suffolk. You can see the care that goes into the hand-painted finish on designs like the Harrogate.

Take your time, sit, discuss. It’s all part of the process.

In the round

There’s something very sociable and easygoing about a round table. It can complement certain styles of architecture, subtly echoing the arch of a doorway or window. Or simply introduce softer, more natural curves into a scheme. The Henley and the Sheldrake also come in extending versions, creating an oval. Still curvaceous, yet long and practical.

Small space to fill?

The two-seater version of the Malvern is an eminently sensible, fuss-free option. It will never dominate a small space, but it still has a refined shape that’s a pleasure to see first thing in the morning as you lay it for breakfast. Meanwhile, the petite Sheldrake is a space-saving design that still feels crafted and solid. Smaller scale doesn’t ever have to mean skimping on style.

To extend or not to extend?

The advantages of extending tables such as the Edinburgh are clear: one size for everyday family meals and then a super-long version for special occasions. But extending tables also speak of a longevity that we love at Neptune. A piece of furniture is an investment for the long term. So if you move to a larger home in a few years, your table comes with you. And if you downsize, that’s fine, too. Your favourite dining table remains in its more compact form to provide a warm welcome in your new home.

Pull up a chair

Extending tables will need an extra set (or two) of chairs waiting in the wings. Opt for an adaptable chair style such as the Suffolk, the Wardley or the Mowbray, those extra chairs can be used in a study while they are off duty. Mind you, the different finishes and fabric options on our chairs mean all our styles are easy mixers throughout your home.

Set the benchmark

Low-profile benches are an all-round winner in the dining room. They can be tucked away when not in use, or look cosy draped with softest throws or cushions. To complement a bench, consider the hardworking rusticity of the Arundel table. It has the feel of a country barn classic, with diagonal supports and the deep, rich hue of brushed oak. Like all our dining tables, it’s a feast for the eyes.

Gather family, rally friends

This October, receive a £50 voucher for every £500 spent
on any of our dining tables and chairs.

Find out more »

Words by Jo Leevers.

About the author
Jo Leevers writes for some of the UK's most acclaimed lifestyle magazines and national newspapers, from The Telegraph to Homes & Antiques.