The best dining sets for your home & how to choose

Nov 8, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

With so many options on the market, it's easy to get overwhelmed with finding the best dining table for your space. See what designer Taniya Nayak says you should look for when selecting the perfect dining table for your space, and get inspired with a few of our favorites.

Dining room

Where to begin

Before you start scouring your favorite stores for dining sets, take a step back and think about how you'll be using your table. Do you want a formal set for hosting fabulous dinner parties? Do you need a durable table that can hold up to the kids? Looking for a large space for craft projects? Does your dining table do double duty as your office table? Ask yourself how you want the space to function before starting your search.

Which shape to choose

Taniya Nayak
Taniya Nayak

Trying to decide between a round or rectangular table "depends on the size of the group you usually entertain," Nayak says. "Large round tables make it hard to feel intimate if it's a small gathering of two to three, but a small round table is perfect for that." Nayak recommends looking at the size of the space and the number of people you typically entertain.

"Large rooms are sometimes best suited with a large rectangular table to keep to the scale of the room," she explains. Looking for a set that can accommodate both large parties and intimate dinners? "Leaves can also be added as necessary to make it larger or removed to accommodate a smaller gathering," Nayak says.

Size matters

Finding a set that fits your space is more than just making sure the table measurements work. If you've ever been to a dinner party where you have to awkwardly scoot around other guests, then you know the importance of allowing enough room for people to pull out chairs. But how do you figure out the right size for the space? Nayak recommends that when measuring your space, "assume that the table is roughly three to four feet larger on all sides to accommodate pulling the chair out and walking around someone with their chair pulled out." That total measurement is the maximum table size for your space. "Don't forget to allow for extras in the dining room, like a hutch, buffet or credenza."

Mix it up

Love a table, but aren't thrilled about the matching chairs? Don't be afraid to mix up a set and combine different styles for a look that's uniquely you. Nayak says she's a fan of mix-and-match, but it really depends on your personality. For a budget-friendly approach, Nayak says you can give the chairs in a matching set a new look by painting the chair frame and reupholstering the seats.

Even if you decide to keep a full dining set together, you can easily change up the look with accessories. "As a designer, I like to mix and match different styles all the time. I'm a big fan of the rustic meets opulent style of farmhouse glam, where a rustic table meets crystal glassware, mercury candlesticks and wicker bread baskets."

"That's why I love dinnerware, because you can have fun with it and adapt it to the theme of your party," Nayak says. "I usually buy fun, colorful dinnerware at HomeGoods because the prices are great, which allows me to have some fun without the fear of overdoing it or the guilt of overspending!"

Ultimately, when shopping for a new dining room set, Nayak says to "have fun with it and be sure there's plenty of room for everybody!"

Up next: Dining room sets we love >>

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