Solving the practical problems for the use of a table is the first step to developing a successful design.
Just as chairs were easily categorized on a practical basis, tables can be classified as one of three types: eatin’, relaxin’ or workin’. Within each of these types there are some design parameters that fall in a narrow range, but other parameters that can vary almost infinitely.
The fixed parameters are those of height, followed by the width and depth needed for the task at hand. For dining tables the standard height is 29″ to 30″. Each diner needs some room, so the overall size of the table depends on the number of place settings and the size of the room. Shape and overall size can range from a small round table for one to a huge banquet table in a palace.
The illustrations give some examples of typical shapes and sizes and the number of seats that can be placed around the table. In some of the illustrations, there is a “normal” spacing for place settings along with a “crowded” setting. This is a realistic consideration when trying to determine the size of table needed.
Some references have tried to simplify this by making the number of possible place settings a function of the length of the perimeter of the table. This almost works for round tables, but fails miserably when employed for rectangular tables. When you turn a corner, you need to consider that parts of the available area are width for one diner and depth for the one around the corner.
Also keep in mind the distance across the table. A 30″-wide table will provide a more intimate experience for people across from each other, but there may not be room to place serving dishes and available space at the corners will be limited if you squeeze in an extra seat. A 48″-wide table will give plenty of room for the turkey platter at Thanksgiving but it can be too far to reach across.