Our grandmothers bought them in shiny laminate tops and chrome trim. The chairs coordinated perfectly with sparkle-infused vinyl and mid-century styling. Our mothers bought them in period-perfect Early American, maple finish on pine. Regardless of what they looked like, the kitchen table set was the center of our homes.
Today, options abound when it comes to outfitting your eat-in kitchen. You’ve got a bounty of sizes, shapes, styles and materials to choose from.
One of your first considerations is the size of your kitchen. If it’s designed to be an eat-in kitchen and you’ve got plenty of room for the kitchen table set, you’ve got many options. But if you’ve got just a corner to fill, you can still make it work. Measure carefully to see what size table will fit. Be sure to consider the space you’ll need to move chairs out from the table; three feet from the edge of the table is a good rule of thumb.
How many people usually sit around your table? If you live alone or if you’re a couple, you can probably get a small bistro table and a pair of chairs. If you are seating a larger family or regularly make room for a few extra people, a round or oval table may let you squeeze in an extra chair, because they don’t have corners. And you have a choice with tabletop height-it can be standard height, counter height, or a tall pub-height table. Look at your space and try to envision the tabletop at different levels. One style may be more appealing than the others.
After you decide on the size and shape of the table, you can start looking for your kitchen table set. This is where your sense of style and your personal preferences come into play. Do you have traditional décor? Are you looking for Shaker, Country, Victorian, Mid-century Modern, Scandinavian, Mission, or European design? You can find a wide choice of sets in wood in various finishes. If you want to add a natural material to your kitchen, you can select a kitchen table set with a marble, granite, tile, or slate top. Some designs integrate stone with wood for a handsome look.
A perennial favorite is a glass top table. You can find a glass-topped kitchen table set with a fanciful metal base, a solid wooden base, and a woven rattan base. Choosing a kitchen table set with the base in a material that coordinates with your décor, but using a glass top keeps the look light and open.
It’s difficult to separate selecting the chairs from the table of the kitchen table set. Most sets are priced to include chairs, but you can often buy the table and the chairs separately. If you prefer not to have a complete matched set, consider buying a coordinating rather than a matching set of chairs. This way you can have the look, the fit and the comfort that a customized set provides.
While the table takes up the most floor space, the chairs are where you sit. For comfort’s sake, you need to try out the chairs that go with the kitchen table set you select before you buy. Many sets come with chairs in wood. Selecting chairs with upholstered seats gives you built-in comfort, but you have the option of adding chair pads to a wooden seat. Chairs come with and without arms-arms provide additional comfort but take up more room.