The Complete Guide to: Dining Table Seating Capacity

By Ryan Rodgers · January 25, 2019

The Complete Guide to: Dining Table Seating Capacity

An in depth look at what size dining table you need and how many people can sit at your dining table.

General Rules for Dining Table Seating Capacity

When it comes to dining tables, you should consider both the everyday and occasional use of your table, but there are some guidelines that apply to every table, regardless of shape, size, or occasion. For example, you should try to leave 24”-30” per chair for comfortable seating. You should also make sure that guests can easily sit down and get up from the table. Try to leave 36” from the edge of your table to the nearest piece of furniture or wall.

Formal Dining Seating vs. Family Dining Seating

Normally, you want to have plenty of space for guests to sit and eat comfortably, the same goes for more formal gatherings of a small group. This configuration is referred to as Formal Dining (although you may not always actually be formal). For formal and everyday dining, you should allow approximately 30” per chair. This can be harder to calculate for oval and round tables, so we’ve included a few handy visual guides and charts later in this guide.

For large gatherings such as a holiday feast or a dinner party that’s more jeans and tee-shirt than black-tie, guests can sit much closer together. It’s all about gathering together for some quality time and a quality meal after all. This seating configuration is called Family Dining and you should allow approximately 24” per guest for comfortable seating.

Child and Bench Seating Capacity of Dining Tables

As you may have noticed, children tend to be smaller than adults, and therefore don’t need as much room at the dining table. Generally kids can be seated closer together for both formal and family dining if you need the extra space. The ideal seating set up for kids is bench seating for the Dining Table rather than chairs, with bench seating, you can allow 18”-24” for guests since chair arms won’t get in the way as much.

Rectangular vs. Oval vs. Round Dining Table Seating

While style has a greater factor on formality than the shape of the table, dining table shape greatly affects how easy it is to seat and accommodate diners. Generally, the smaller the table, the harder it is to seat folks family style as the legs of the table can interfere with the legs of diners.

Rectangular tables are the most efficient at seating diners for their size, particularly at larger dimensions. Room can be left for table service in the middle of a rectangular table if desired, and there is minimal wasted space.

Oval tables are the next most efficient for seating. Some space can be wasted at the ends of the table where guests cannot be seated together as closely without bumping into one another, or if the table has pedestals that interfere with foot room. There is still plenty of room for diners to sit comfortably along the sides of the table and have table service.

Rounded tables are fantastic for smaller groups, but as the table (and group) grows larger, more and more space becomes impractical to use in serving. This is not to say that larger round tables aren’t fantastic dining table options, rather, care should be taken to make sure that the center of the table is not wasted. This makes round tables ideal for larger or more eye-catching centerpieces than other table options.

Dining Table Seating Guides

Here are some handy guides for determining how large of a table you need to seat a certain amount of guests, and vice-versa. First is a comprehensive chart, then there are visual guides below.