1. Do I want to bring in a contrast or not?

In this Limehouse kitchen, the rectangular Wardley table emphasises the streamlined look of the cabinetry and means the whole kitchen has the same sharp, strong lines. If you’d contrasted it with a round table, the contemporary, fluid aesthetic would have diluted.

The same goes for the image with our round Chichester table. This is a room that’s all about softness, and by choosing a circular table with the base painted in a similar tone to the walls, the softness is dialled up.

You can use your table to pick up on shapes in your room that you want to draw attention to as well. Our extending Chichester table in the last image picks up on the other rectangular elements in the room, from the architrave and cornicing, through to the beautiful wooden shutters in the adjoining sitting room.

So, consider a contrasting dining table shape if you don’t want to focus on one particular look, feel or feature in your room but to have a few points of difference. If you’d prefer to have continuation in your room, choose a coordinating shape.

2. What do I want to use my table for?

Dining tables aren’t always just for dining. We flock to them for all sorts of activities, from colouring in and homework to them being a decorative surface to display an attractive vase or cluster of candles. They’re a feature as much as a functional piece of furniture.

Think about how you’re likely to use yours.

Is it your only dining table in the house? If so, a rectangular extending one might be best so that it can take on everything and anything you need. Shape sorted.

If it’s a secondary table that you want to set up as a dining table from time to time, consider a smaller circular one that you can style decoratively when it’s not in use. The dining chairs can be moved and used as dressing chairs in your bedrooms, or as accent chairs in downstairs spaces, hallways or on a landing – see the images of our Chichester circular table and Long Island chairs for inspiration.

3. Are my mealtimes more formal or casual?

You can easily dress your table to set the tone for a meal – crockery, cutlery and glassware speak volumes. But, generally speaking, it’s easier to make a rectangular table feel more formal (because of the association with having a ‘head of the table’), and a round table will always feel that touch more relaxed (they encourage intimacy because the whole table can comfortably see and hear each other). And ovals? Well, they’re somewhere between the two.

4. What can my room take?

A round table is great when your room is on the small side. The lack of sharp corners and bulky shape means there’s less to bump into. Plus, if you go for a pedestal base, you can fit a surprising amount of people around the tabletop. A square is also worth considering as it can be pushed into the corner when mealtimes are over.

If your room is long and narrow, a rectangular table is best rather than forcing a circular one to work and losing out on the floor space you’ll need to easily walk in, around and through.

And if space is less of a concern, you’ll still need to think carefully about the size and shape of your table. A round table in the centre could feel a touch lost, but equally a large rectangular one might dominate. So, go back to points 1–3 and let them guide you into deciding what shape makes the most sense for your space.