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How to Measure for a Dining Room Table (August 28, 2009)
Your family is seated around a beautifully set dining room table. It sounds like an image from a Currier and Ives picture. However, if the table is too small, people can be squashed elbow to shoulder, making eating a nightmare. Or, if the table is too large, you have to squeeze around it. Finding the right size dining room table-whether new or antique-can be a daunting. Taking the proper measurements will make this task easier.
Measure the dining room's width and length. This measurement will go from wall to wall, no matter what furniture is already in it. Mark these measurements on graph paper. For instance, if the room is 12 feet wide and 14 feet long, place a mark at one point on the graph paper, count 12 squares over and place another mark to represent the 12 feet wide and do the same in the opposite direction for the 14 feet long dimension. Then connect these marks to represent the perimeter of the dining room.
Measure the free space of the dining room. Include not only the width and length, but also any unusual items that take up space, such as large plants. Add these measurements to the dining room diagram.
Place two chairs--or items to represent the size of dining table chairs--opposite each other where they would be set if someone were sitting at a table. Adjust their position until they are comfortable for someone sitting in it as well as giving room to move past them. Measure from the back of one chair across to the back of the other.
Repeat the placement of the chair, or objects, in the other direction. Measure the distance for these two chairs. Add this and the previous dimensions to the diagram.
Cut out pieces of paper, using these dimensions, in a rectangle, oval or circle. These pieces of paper represent the different shapes of dining room tables. Place the cut papers on the diagram of the room's dimensions to determine which shape table will work best for the room. Remember, with someone sitting in the chairs, it will take up an additional 18 to 24 inches, depending upon the size of the person.
Cut a length of twine in the outer measurement of the table. Lay this twine on the floor in the dining room, adjusting it to fit the table size you decided upon earlier. Place chairs, or the objects you used to represent chairs, around the twine. Have someone sit on the chairs, to make sure there is enough room comfortable sitting. Measure the dimensions of the table and chairs one more time. Take these dimensions and the carpenter's measure with you when you shop for the dining room table.