In choosing appropriate dining room furniture, the House of Oak & Sofas salesperson pays close attention to the dining habits of those living in the house. In a new house, perhaps with a full bar located in the kitchen, dining habits can change significantly. In some homes, sit-up meals, with everyone dining around a table at the same time, are virtually non-existent.
With that in mind, the fastest growing segment of dining sales in the past 5 years has been Pub or Bar Stool Dining where a counter-height table, seating from 2-8 people, is surrounded by barstools. We sometimes refer to this trend as an "SUV trend" where seating is a bit higher than in a normal car, but for whatever reason, sitting on a barstool is "in." Noticeable differences include no "head" of the table (everyone is in a circle or square), and in larger dining areas, the need for a more square-shaped room rather than rectangle-shaped, although with open plan building, this becomes less problematic. The bonus for stool height dining is that the table becomes a great game table where up to 8 people can join in playing Monopoly or other board games.
Of course, as mentioned above, many homes dispense with tables completely in the kitchen, and use barstools pulled up to built in bars. Almost all bars and stool-height tables are built at either "counter height" which is 36 inches or "bar height" which is 42 inches. An important measurement in this regard is seating height. Seating height is generally 12 inches below dining height. Therefore a regular dining table at 30 inches tall requires chairs with seats that are 18 inches off the floor, a 36 inch counter table requires 24 inch bar stools and a 42 inch bar table requires stools whose seats are 30 inches above the floor. Like color, correct seating height is difficult to remember, and barstools are the most frequently exchanged item in our store: the reason being that the original purchase was for the imagined height rather than the measured height.
Another popular feature in casual dining is the butterfly leaf. This is a simple design concept where unused table leaves, which otherwise have been stored in closets or under beds, fold in half on a hinged center bar, and tuck inside the table. This feature is available on a half-dozen popular House of Oak & Sofas tables. Make sure you have your salesperson demonstrate a butterfly leaf table, especially if you are down-sizing and need added space.
Of course Amish Dining is the real hit at House of Oak & Sofas. When our business began, in 1985, we sold, almost exclusively, Amish-crafted dining furniture, crafted in Holmes County, Ohio. As you can read in other areas of this website, (Amish-Crafted furniture), the tendency to over-build, and use quality materials, means your furniture can last a hundred years. Along with other commercial furniture manufacturers, the Amish continue to update their product and today their tables carry an incredible Resistovar finish that is water and alcohol proof. This sets the Amish-crafted tables apart from almost all commercially built tables where that kind of finish is a rarity. Working directly with the manufacturer means the customer can choose type of wood, (oak, cherry, maple and hickory) as well as features such as leg or foot style, and type of edge routing. In addition, the Amish have developed an extensive line of cupboards including chinas and hutches, jelly cupboards, pie safes, microwave stands and corner cupboards to further enhance their tables.
Formal dining is slowing in popularity. Although aging empty nesters with large homes make certain they have a large formal dining table to seat as many children and grandchildren as possible, more often a much more casual large dining area is incorporated into the family or "great" room. For the most part formal dining has become less formal and mixing materials, whether it be stone, metal, glass or leather, is often used to make the formal dining set more attractive.
Finally, in measuring for new furniture, people often cut the sizes and shapes of potential pieces from newspaper and lay them on the floor. That way they can walk around their "new furniture" and be assured that the room has sufficient space. In most homes, it is common that one side, or two, of a dining table might be a bit less accessible, a 30-inch space on all sides of the tables is desirable and will allow people to pass behind seated diners for serving or clearing.
At House of Oak & Sofas we often recommend using an area rug under the dining table to help define and soften the dining space. Rugs should be large enough so that the back legs of chairs do not drop off the rug when one is dining. In general, a very small dinette can sit on a 6x9 rug while most require an 8x11 size.