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Types of Dining Table Shapes for your Dining Room

How to choose the right size dining table for your room

Linda Holmes
By Linda Holmes, Interiors Director

There’s a lot more to choosing dining tables than size and material. Knowing what’s the best dining table for the space in which it will be positioned is a conundrum contemplated by many households.

Discover why you should choose one shape over another as well as the effect that the table shape has on the size of a room with our dining table guide.

Rectangular Dining Table | Types of Dining Table Shapes for your Dining Room |
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Rectangular Dining Table

Imagine a banqueting table, or a formal dining room for special occasions and the chances are, a long dining table that’s rectangular in shape will come to mind. Its strong lines lend a formal quality, and in a lengthy and narrow room, a rectangular table is the perfect shape to fill the void. But this type of dining table isn’t always so vast.

Rectangular dining tables are a popular choice in apartments where they can seat as few as four with room for two extra people at the head of the table when entertaining.

To counteract its strong form, pair a rectangular table with upholstered chairs, ones with a curved frame, or both as Elicyon has in this contemporary apartment.

Square Dining Table | Types of Dining Table Shapes for your Dining Room |
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Square Dining Table

There are obvious similarities between a rectangular and square dining room table, in that they bring strong form and crispness to a room’s decor. There are, however, a few notable differences.

Typically, these are the best space-saving dining tables, because they can be tucked in against a wall and moved out of the way if need be. Use angular, armless dining chairs and they’ll slide under to take up minimal floor space too. This gives you a well-matched dining table and chair combination for small spaces.

Another difference is that if the lines of a rectangular table appeal but you wish to create more of an intimate table setting, then a square shape will provide that. Choose a large square dining table though (as per the David Collins Studio shot) and you’ll lose the proximity between place settings but will gain a contemporary statement in the room as this size and shape of table together is a less than common choice so has high impact.

Round Dining Table | Types of Dining Table Shapes for your Dining Room |
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Round Dining Table

Onto circle dining tables where the form softens and along with it, the atmosphere in the room.

This shape of table suits any style of property, from provincial wooden designs with a contoured pedestal leg in a country cottage to those that are sleek with walnut veneers for a penthouse apartment, such as in the Dariel Studio example.

Another plus point of the circle dining room table is that it can fit a high number of people around its circumference. The lack of edges doesn’t restrict the number of seats so you can put them arm to arm the entire way around.

Even a small dining table has the potential to pack a sizeable dinner party around it and the informality of the shape encourages everyone to interact. A round dining table doesn’t have to remain in the informal camp though – dress it up or down with whatever tablescape you choose to lay.

Oval Dining Table | Types of Dining Table Shapes for your Dining Room |
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Oval Dining Table

Just as a rectangle and square dining table share points in common, so do oval and circular tables. This style of table is a compromise between a rectangle and a round design as two sides are more linear while the ends are rounded, giving the best of both worlds.

To enhance the fluid dimension of an oval’s shape, pick chairs that are cove-backed so the presence of arcs continue, as Helen Green Design shows in her elegant, period property dining room.

As with rectangles, an oval is a good option if you’re seeking a long, narrow dining table. But if it’s a dining table for a small space for which you’re searching, oval designs are typically on the larger side and are better suited to big dining rooms or kitchens.

Best Dining Table Shapes for Small Rooms | Types of Dining Table Shapes for your Dining Room |
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Best Dining Table Shapes for Small Rooms

The ideal shape of dining table and chairs for small spaces are round and square (in terms of table), and with a low back and no arms (in terms of chairs). The chairs will look least unobtrusive this way and won’t dominate the room. There are some modern designs where the chairs fit under the table so neatly that that almost disappear from view.

Benches are another option if they are short enough to fit in-between the table legs so that once again, they can be pushed under and entirely hidden.

Space-Saving Tip: Choose extendable dining tables so there’s the option to entertain a bigger group without the table taking up vital floorspace every day of the week. Choose a round table and it will extend out to become an oval (or certain drop-leaf tables become a narrow rectangle until its ‘leaves’ are unfolded into a circle), whereas a square will transform into a rectangle, providing you with two dining table shapes in one piece.

Best Dining Table Shapes for Large Rooms | Types of Dining Table Shapes for your Dining Room |
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Best Dining Table Shapes for Large Rooms

If size isn’t an issue and dining sets for small spaces aren’t on your list of concerns, knowing what shape of table looks the part in a large room can be just as tricky.

One option that’s not always obvious is to push together two small square dining room tables. This way, you get to double up on the length while enjoying the greater width that tends to come with a square table. Also, consider what effect the style of the table will have on the room.

All shapes of table can be dramatised to help visually fill a large room depending on their materials, finish and decorative touches. For example, a marble-topped table with luxurious inlay work will certainly make its presence felt in a room with a lot of spare meterage to fill.

Otherwise, rest assured that all four table shapes will suit a big dining room. It comes down to what sort of atmosphere you want to create and what sort of statement you want that table to say.