Buying guide: Kitchen tables
The perfect kitchen table is equal parts work space and social spot. Today’s kitchen is very much the hub of the home, and the right table provides a spot for friends to chat, lovers to enjoy a Sunday morning latte and newspaper, families to hang out together during the evening homework-and-meal-prep rush.
Locating the perfect table for your home is about balancing space considerations with design preferences and usage patterns. In plain English? Ask yourself these key 5 questions, and you’ll be on your way to the perfect match.
1 How will the table be used?
Some tables get minimal use: they’re there for a fast morning coffee before you buy breakfast on the road and later eat dinner in another room.
Others get high traffic: kids do their homework after school, mom uses it as a second office, the home chef uses it to set out his mis en scène, and casual meals are eaten there on a regular basis.
A light-duty table in a smaller household can be smaller, and, if space-saving is a concern, wall-mounted models that drop-down or collapse are worth considering. Glass or less expensive laminate surfaces will suffice for wear. At the higher end, marble is a nice option.
Heavy-use tables generally should be more generous in dimension, and if cooking equipment will be used on it, sturdy of build. Solid wood may be the best choice in terms of functionality and long-term wear.
2 How much space do I have to spare?
If your kitchen feels “cozy” on the best of days, you may want to think of ways to accommodate your seating. If you already have an island, you may not even need a freestanding kitchen table. Adding a bar extension or peninsula may be a savvier approach, as might the aforementioned collapsible models.
If your kitchen feels spacious to you, you can afford to be more creative, basing your kitchen-table desires on your actual seating and aesthetic preferences. A window niche is ideal for a built-in breakfast booth, if you’re willing to hire a pro for installation.
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn
3 Am I redecorating my kitchen soon?
If you plan to overhaul your kitchen, you may want to hold off on the table purchase. Or at least wait until you’ve selected the style of your future kitchen to ensure there aren’t any style disconnects down the road.
If you’re buying before the deed is done, bring your kitchen cabinetry catalogues with you when you’re browsing.
Although some matches are obvious – a midcentury Saarinen Tulip table looks fab in a contemporary high-gloss Scavolini kitchen (or IKEA knock-off) – others are less so, yet equally effective. A Saarinen table also happens to look beautiful in a country-cottage style kitchen provided there’s a unifying theme such as colour.
4 Do I have an open-concept kitchen/main floor space?
A self-contained kitchen allows you to coordinate your table to the kitchen space exclusively. In an open-concept space, consider how the table will look from other vantage points and avoid jarring colours or styles that may stick out in a negative way.
Carry a theme from the adjoining area to ensure cohesion. For example, if your dining table is a rustic harvest table, gong for a similar look in a kitchen table is an obvious “do.”
5 What’s my design taste?
Finally, as with any furniture choice, your taste comes into play.
Kitchen tables tend to be less formal than their dining-room counterparts, but ask yourself if you want a very casual, rustic look, or one that’s more urbane and polished.
On the more polished side of things, you may want to opt for a contemporary-styled glass, marble or refined wood table.
If you’re thinking more casual, rustic and wear-friendly, consider either country/flea market style (heavy hardwood tables of solid wood, or planked harvest tables whether stained or painted) or industrial-kitchen style. A metal table surface may not be ideal for a dining table, but it can be just the thing for a kitchen table that also gets a lot of use as an additional food-prep surface.
Also ask yourself if this might be on area where you’re interested in pushing the design envelope a bit. In recent years, another big trend has been pairing a high-back, upholstered settee with small, café or bistro-style kitchen tables. With a white settee and a white-marble-and-black-iron-based table, the look is seriously chic – but not necessarily family-friendly.
Finally: Hold out until you find your perfect match. We spend more and more time in our kitchens today, so finding one that you love is vital.
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn