Get the Dining Room Ready

By Christine Brun

September 21, 2016 4 min read

Nothing says family quite like Thanksgiving dinner. Traditional or avant-guard, it's the fellowship that is most important. We have about two months to go before the food extravaganza of the year. In order to make sure that your guests will be at ease this Thanksgiving, it is time to turn your attention toward your dining room. Regardless of size, gatherings go better when everyone has a place to sit! Plan ahead with the following considerations.

First, know that if you don't have a dining room table right now, it is nearly too late to order one from a furniture showroom. Most lead times in the furniture industry are six to eight weeks, so you might have better luck buying a floor model at a store or one online, as those generally have a guaranteed delivery time. People who live in small homes always face a unique challenge when trying to combine style with size needs. Vintage furniture malls tend to accept dining tables that were popular in the 1930s or 40s, when houses were smaller, and the typical dining table was more petite than today. Remember that a drop-leaf table can be stored against a wall on the day to day, and then moved into the center of the room when needed. The leaves flip up and lock into place for extra space.

There are practical alternatives to buying a drop-leaf table. For one, you can always use a small dining room table all year and just replace it with a folding banquet table for the holiday. Simply store your table in the garage or on a covered outdoor patio. Another trick is to place a 60-by-72-inch wood top over a smaller square table. Rent or buy appropriate linens, and no one will be aware of what's underneath. Now, there's one key point if you do this: Be sure to use a table pad or a felt-backed plastic liner under your linens. This gives a better feel when someone touches the cloth. You definitely don't want to feel a rough wood top or a hard plastic top at the banquet table.

As a practical matter with a temporary table, there is nothing wrong with clearing a space in an adjacent room or for your permanent table to extend to its maximum dimension. For example, in this situation the coffee table could be moved to in front of the window, and the table could straddle the living area and the dining room. If you do not have enough matching chairs, you could rent matching folding chairs. They are not expensive, and the style is not as important as uniformity.

Another way to set up is to present the food on the table, provide dining-height temporary tables in front of the sofa, and add chairs on the other side. Or you might remove the armchairs in front of the windows and add a small round or rectangular table. Again, if you rent matching chairs, both dining spots will be consistent. In this way, you could serve about 10 people and avoid serving the food in your tiny kitchen.

Remember that most guests are extremely forgiving of unusual furniture arrangements and settings on a holiday. Most people will be comfortable as long as you have a dining table of proper height (29 inches) and corresponding dining chairs. But there's always room for trial and error. For example, if you do use a sofa or a lounge chair for a dinner, the seat height is generally lower than that of a typical dining chair, so you could suggest that a tall guest take those spots instead of a short guest or child.

Photo Credit: Linnet

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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