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How to Choose the Right Table for Dining, Working & More

office table sizes

Union Wood Co’s Table Buying Guide

We’ve developed this guide on how to choose the right table for your needs from over a decade of experience building furniture. 

Our team of custom furniture makers have you covered for dining tables, meeting tables, conference tables, and anything in between. No matter the style, size, or shape, there are four key questions to answer that’ll help determine the perfect table size and shape for your space. 

  • How will it be used?
  • What are your table clearances?
  • How many people will be sitting around the table?
  • What is the best table shape?

  • (If you are on a deadline click on the question links to jump to the section of this post you need ASAP. You can also click here to jump to download our table size and seating capacity charts. We also have a couple of videos breaking the information up into two short videos with some bonus LOLs. If not, keep scrolling for the information and the beauty shots!)


    How will the table be used?

    Tables that are used for shorter periods of time tend to be smaller and compact for activities like grabbing lunch or Monday morning meetings. People will not be sitting at them for long periods so there’s not as much of a need for comfort and space. 

    If you need a table for hosting holiday dinners or meeting with important investors, you’ll need a table that has the space for people to get settled in, spread out, and be comfortable for a longer period of time. 

    dining table sizes


    Workspace tables often need to accommodate built-in hardware, integrated power, and data modules. When you reach out, fill us in on your electronic specifications and we’ll make sure your equipment is seamlessly built into the furniture with plenty of space for everyone to plug in.

    Get an idea of rough table measurements and the number of people you can seat around the table based on how the table will be used:

    table measurments based on use

    What are the table clearances?

    The right table size and shape allows people to comfortably move around the space and get in and out of their spot with ease. You’ll know your table measurements are a perfect fit if your guests can move around it without side stepping and sucking their stomachs in! 

    table measurments and clearances


    As a general guide, these are the minimum suggested clearances from the surrounding walls to the table edge:

    Dining rooms, meeting rooms, workstations: Minimum 42” from the table edge to the surrounding wall. This allows people to move from their chairs comfortably and allows others to pass behind a seated person.  If you have the space, we do suggest more room though as 42" is the minimum.

    Conference rooms: Minimum 48” from the table edge to the surrounding wall. This allows people to walk around the table while others are seated.


    table sizes and clearances


    Be sure to make note of other furniture, equipment, and door swings in your room. If there is something between the table and the wall, the minimum dimension should adjust from the table edge to the other item.  For example, if there is a credenza in your dining room, the minimum  42” should be from the table edge to the credenza. 

    Craig's Pro Tip 👍  Don’t sweat it if there’s an obstacle course of doorways, small elevators, tight hallways, and sharp corners in your home or project. Access should always be a consideration.  We can build larger tables in modular pieces and assemble them on site. Just let us know in advance what we’ll have to navigate when delivering your table.

    dining table clearances

    How many people will be sitting around the table?

    No one wants someone’s elbow poking them in the nose while they’re trying to eat or work. The best table experience is one where there is enough room for people to complete tasks with plenty of personal space.  

    office table seats

    Whether it’s beers with friends or taking notes during a meeting, here are suggested dimensions in order for each person to be comfortable while seated  around a table:

    table seats for dining, office, boardroom

    Social Distancing

    When we first started writing this guide, social distancing wasn’t a term any of us would have used. But the world is different now and we’re ready to change with it. 

    If your table is for a public place or office we can work with you to find a solution for keeping people safe. That could mean making smaller tables that can be used on their own for individuals or configured together for a larger group. We can also build dividers that’ll shield people from one another in tight spaces.

    office table sizes

    What is the best table shape?

    At Union Wood Co we offers five different tabletop shapes: rectangular, racetrack, barrel, square, and circle. Each shape has its own qualities that make it best suited for different table sizes, table designs, and room shapes. 

    You’ll want to choose a table shape that not only complements your space, but also improves the way people interact with each other around the table. Here’s what we found works best with each of our table shapes:


    rectangular tables


    barrel shaped tables


    racetrack shaped tables


    square shaped tables


    round table shape

    Although these five table shapes are our standard, we’re able to 
    custom build almost any shape you can come up with. 

    If you‘re looking for versatility in your space, we can explore configuration options by placing a number of smaller tables together to form a U-shape, triangle, starburst, and more. 


    conference table seats

    Craig’s Pro Tip
     #2 👍  If you’re having trouble visualizing the shape of your table in the room, tape the shape of the table on the ground or place items where the footprint of the table would be. 


    table sizes for the office

    Final Table Size and Seating Charts

    Using ALL the information and tips we’ve covered so far, we’ve made these handy table size and seating charts that will tell you the ideal table measurements based on how you’ll use your table, the number of people you need to seat, and its shape.  Remember though, these are just basic guidelines so if you have any specific questions please let us know!


    rectangular table measurmentssquare table measurmentsround table measurments

    Download your copy of the seating charts!

    We‘re more than ready to help you choose the right table and start building it for you. Contact us to get your project going!

    If you’re curious to know more about our custom furniture process, check out our resource page about How to Order Custom Furniture at Union Wood Co.



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