How to choose dining furniture and occasional tables

Choose the right dining sets, tables and chairs for your needs. Select solid wood, extendable tables and even glass tables.

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ABOVE: Asken dining set, £1,299, including an extending dining table, made from solid oak and oak veneer, (H)79x(W)140-220x(D)90cm, and four chairs, made from solid oak and oak veneer and upholstered in polyurethane fabric, (H)100x (W)46x(D)55cm; Darcy Mangrove chair, upholstered in Teal Stripe chenille fabric, (H)102x(W)46x (D)61cm, £250 per pair, all Harveys.

Choose the right dining sets, tables and chairs for your needs. Select solid wood, extendable tables and even glass tables.

Wooden tables

Wood has all the qualities of a beautiful natural material, and every piece is individual. Remember, though, that solid wood tables can be heavy, and can naturally warp in a centrally heated home, as well as fade in sunlight. Wood can be finished with lacquer, however. ‘This can help enhance the grain and give the wood a smoother feel. The lacquer also helps with durability and reflects the light,’ explains Ivan Strugar, head of buying (cabinet) at Harveys. ‘However, when a product is damaged it is harder to repair when lacquered.’

Wood veneers are glued onto an inner board. This generally makes them more stable than solid wood, and lighter, which is useful if you like to move the position of your furniture frequently. Veneers can also create fabulous effects.

High-gloss furniture has a modern feel and is hardwearing, but can be scratched more easily than wood and veneers. Glass furniture is good for small, dark rooms as it will let the light flow through the space, making it feel bigger, but it can also be scratched more readily than wood.

Dining chairs chairs

Wooden chairs are the practical choice for dining rooms, but opt for upholstered designs for extra comfort – leather, or a quality lookalike, is the best choice in busy family homes. Alternatively, consider dining chairs that have a metal frame. ‘They are lighter to lift than wood, plus easy to clean and hardwearing,’ advises Ivan.

Match existing wood tones if you’re adding a new dining or occasional table to a scheme. Wooden chairs should match the wood of tables, if you choose them, but chairs in materials such as polypropylene with metal legs can create a greatlooking combination with a wood table. Dark woods have a more traditional effect but can also give an oriental or masculine feel. Choose paler oak or pine for a country feel, or in a dark room.

Contemporary tables

Tables with clean lines will create a contemporary look; for on-trend mid-century style, pick a design with softly rounded edges and tapering legs. If you’re after a rustic effect, chunkier legs and tabletops will help you achieve this.

Consider shape

Think about the shape of your dining table, too. Round tables are great for entertaining, and are easier to move around in smaller rooms. An oval shape is also a good way of saving space without sacrificing much table area. Extendable tables are worth considering, but always check how easy the mechanism is to operate first.

Fara glass coffee table

The costs: Expect to pay from £50 for plain pine or metal and glass tables, to £1,000 or more for solid wood large or extendable designs, or sizeable styles using solid wood and veneers with attractive grain patterns.

All prices and stockists correct at time of publishing.