The Best Dining Tables, as Seen in Our Favorite Spaces
One is a dream dinner-party setup.
Published May 14, 2022 7:45 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
If you have ever moved into a new space and endured a takeout-on-the-floor meal, you’ve probably realized there’s little time to waste in finding your dream dining room table. You need a landing zone stat—for weeknight meals and weekend dinner parties, to serve by day as a junk mail catchall, or to spread out with your laptop and other work-from-home necessities. As the central part of most homes, the dining table is pretty much a nonnegotiable piece of furniture.
A dining table wears a lot of hats, but that doesn’t mean it can’t serve up good design and be function-forward. It needs to feel lived-in and not too precious: There will be plenty of spaghetti sauce splatters and red wine spills in the future. It’s not always easy to find your true north while browsing options, but the perfect dining room table all comes down to an essential trio: size, shape, and material.
For the best dining tables, we asked the designers behind some of our favorite spaces featured on Domino to share their input on quality and style. We also sought out their insight on each specific table in each specific space. Whether you have a whole dining room to dedicate to a timeless furniture piece or a breakfast nook just big enough for a kitchen table and chairs, gather the expert inspo ahead and earmark the dining table that speaks to you the most.
- The sculptural space saver: Anthropologie Sonali Dining Table
- The mood booster: Wiggle Room Dining Table
- The dinner-party backdrop: CB2 Aqua Virgo Dining Table
- The room anchor: Dyphor Oval Marble Dining Table
The Sculptural Space Saver: Anthropologie Sonali Dining Table
Shape: Round | Seating capacity: 4 | Material: Ash wood and resin
What we like:
- Can seat up to 4
- Comes assembled
- A bit heavy
- Avoid chemical cleaners
Why we chose it: Bold enough on its own to make a small nook feel intentional.
When working with Joy Cho, founder and creative director of Oh Joy!, on Cho’s California studio/home, designer Cleo Murnane of Project M Plus started out with a blank slate of an open floor plan. In one cozy corner on the second floor, the duo envisioned a cute breakfast-lunch nook and got to work on choosing a round kitchen table and chairs that wouldn’t overcrowd the space. But it wasn’t the Sonali dining table’s shape or small dimensions that won Murnane over: The designer selected it for its base, which beckons the eye down to three rounded shapes, balancing on one another. “We didn’t have a huge budget for art, so a sculptural table felt like the perfect way to add an artful touch,” says Murnane.
The table also works here thanks to its muted light-blond finish, which fills out this cozy corner without fighting for attention. “Joy loves prints and patterns, and we used a lot of different wallpapers when designing her homes,” Murnane adds. “With the table, single-wall wallpaper backsplash, and color, this whole moment has an element of a fancy booth in a cute, trendy restaurant.”
The Mood Booster: Wiggle Room Dining Table
Shape: Organic | Seating capacity: 4 to 6 | Material: Wood and laminate
What we like:
- Radiant color choices
- Hard-to-ruin material
- Not as much tabletop area for plates
Why we chose it: For a dash of joy (and a wine-resistant top).
Designer Susan Korn’s Manhattan apartment is an ode to bright, whimsical hues—just like her accessories brand, Susan Alexandra. The space layers candy-colored elements in every corner, and in the dining area it all starts with a yellow table from Wiggle Room (the only piece of furniture she has taken with her from apartment to apartment). The curved table can fit four to six people, and it’s complete with a durable laminate top ready for red wine spills and tipsy guests who forgo coasters. For seating to match (or, rather, wonderfully mismatch), Korn went with statement-making chairs: two tomato red designs from Dims, an antique carved green daisy seat, and a street find she painted herself.
We love that the New York–made piece is high impact—a feast for the eyes—but still a relatively small footprint coming in either a 50- or 60-inch table. While you could use this as your room’s cheery moment, Korn takes a different approach: Pops of color make up her whole space. Moroccan rugs from an estate sale, a custom bookshelf decorated with her vibrant art, and her from-scratch decorative accents (including DIYed IKEA lamps and beaded hanging planters and tissue boxes).
The Dinner-Party Backdrop: CB2 Aqua Virgo Dining Table
Shape: Rectangle | Seating capacity: 8 to 10 | Material: Lacquered wood
What we like:
- Easily wipes clean
- Fit for large groups
- Some assembly required
Why we chose it: A seat for (literally) every relative.
No home of textile designer Aelfie Oudghiri is complete without color. But for her contemporary cottage on Long Island, she toned things down ever so slightly, starting with an all-white core before layering in primary-hued accents like the striking cobalt blue faucet in the kitchen. This long, modern dining table is in the very center of the open living space, separating the kitchen from the living room. It’s a dream dinner-party setup: The table can comfortably seat eight but will squeeze in 10. And with its smooth, high-gloss finish and continuous curved legs, it’s the perfect backdrop for a colorful set of eye-catching plates or textured placemats.
The Room Anchor: Dyphor Oval Marble Dining Table
Shape: Oval | Seating capacity: 6 to 8 or more | Material: Marble
What we like:
- Custom sizes
- Handmade; feels one of a kind
- Very heavy
Why we chose it: Elegant and timeless marble that can ground any dining area.
A dark, swirled-marble table achieves the just-right level of moodiness in this Brooklyn brownstone, which belongs to actor-environmentalist Adrian Grenier’s mother. The sunlit extension to the home’s kitchen called for a statement table that could shine, says designer Estelle Bailey-Babenzien. “I focused on an oval table because the space is a little narrow, and I wanted to avoid sharp corners to allow for easier access to the doors on each side,” she explains. The shape offers a contrast to the angular lines of the window frames and geometric tiles, allows for more of a flow in the room, and lends softness to the hard stone.
The eggplant-hued table in question is from Brooklyn-based showroom Dyphor, purveyors of sustainably sourced furniture from around the world. Part of its signature line, this marble design is completely customizable in both size and shade upon request, with black, white, and green marble also available.
How We Chose These Products
From narrowing down between solid wood and marble, oval and rectangle, every step of hand-selecting a dining table can bring on some, er, pressure. (If not forever, you’ll be married to it for at least five to 10 years, right?) To find the best dining tables, we selected a few of our hands down favorites and asked the designer who sourced each one why it was the perfect match for the space. From there, we gathered tips and tricks for each design, like what to do in the cleaning department for different materials and what fits best where.
Our Shopping Checklist
One very important question when searching for the best dining room table is: How do you decide on a shape? A round table is functional in smaller nooklike spaces. “Round tables are also great for families, as they have a pedestal, so there’s lots of legroom and they feel as comfortable with three people as they do with eight,” says Bailey-Babenzien. “An oval table has a similar effect for a good flow of communication, and it can bring a softness to any room. It can save space while still accommodating extra chairs pulled up for bigger dinner parties.” While a long rectangular table is more rigid to the eye, it can seat many, many chairs, depending on the size, and the corners can be made useful for tiny chairs, too. Consider the legs or pedestal of a dining table when thinking about shape as well, and keep in mind that some of the most functional designs don’t have four legs.
Material and Care
Dining room tables should be durable, as they get a ton of use. Tables come in all materials, ranging from stone and laminate to wood and lacquer. But which is best? Both how you use your table and who is using it (are your guests usually kids with oh-so-messy hands?) matter when narrowing down materials.
Glass and stone are particularly ideal for a tabletop—both are nearly stainproof, notes Murnane. Stone especially can handle a lot, Bailey-Babenzien says. “I am a huge fan of stone,” she explains. “I don’t treat it like a precious material; in fact, I rather like the look of wear and tear on stone dining tables and countertops. It shows it’s being put to good use. Having said that, I always use a product called Stain Proof on stone surfaces. It’s a liquid that seeps in and is invisible. It’s incredible at protecting the stone from stains, so you can utilize it without worry.”
These durable surfaces are easy to wipe clean with no effort involved. If your heart is set on wood, just be sure to top it off with a great sealer. Murnane recommends sealers from ZAR, and specifically for protecting light wood, a coat of this water-based formula.
Determining what size dining table you need should, obviously, never be done without taking out a measuring tape. “First, understand the size and shape of the room,” says Bailey-Babenzien. “Then measure, measure, measure, taking into account space to walk around the table, pull out chairs, and sit comfortably.”
Q: How many people should a dining table be able to seat?
Ideally, eight, says designer Liz Hoekzema of KLH Custom Homes. But those do not have to be eight proper dining chairs. If you don’t have space for eight-armed or armless chairs in your dining room area, consider banquette-style options like a long bench (which can squeeze in more bottoms), slide-out multipurpose stools (that can double as plant stands while not in use), and folding chairs that can be added for gatherings around the table with a bigger group. And go ahead and use those table corners!
Q: Are formal dining rooms out of style?
This answer may be a bit different now than in pre-pandemic days: Staying inside our spaces for far longer than we ever thought we would has certainly encouraged a vibe switch in what home (and dining at home) means. Murnane agrees. “Two years ago I might have said yes, formal dining rooms are out; you should be integrating your dining room into your kitchen,” she says. “But now, after spending so much time in our homes, I love the idea of creating rooms to step into different moods. We need more things to celebrate, and why not put on a special dress and share a gorgeous meal at home? I hope the at-home dinner party never goes out of style.”
The Last Word
A dining table can be as durable as it is beautiful, a statement-making focal point, and a place to gather comfortably for years to come. With careful consideration of the flow of your space and the head count of your frequent diners, the just-right dining table is out there for every home.