The kitchen is among one of the most used rooms in any house and the focus of the kitchen is the kitchen table. Careful selection of your kitchen table can go a long way in enhancing your cooking experience. If you take an inventory of all the uses a kitchen table is likely to have during its useful life, you’ll end up with a very long list. For example, you will almost certainly eat at the kitchen table and probably read the morning paper, have coffee with friends and family, and your children will color, paint, and do their homework at the table. You’ll want a table that’s versatile and comfortable considering the breadth of all the activities that take place in this one place.

Tables come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, construction materials, and levels of quality. The selection process should start with the size and shape. Most people have to work within the confines of their current kitchen. However, a lucky few may be lucky enough to plan their kitchen around a prized kitchen table because they are remodeling or building a new home. For the rest of us, the distance between two walls will dictate the maximum size of our table. Ideally, you want at least 36 inches between the edge of your table and the walls. This gives your family members and guests enough room to sit down and get up comfortably from their seat. Let’s say you have a three-walled breakfast nook that measures ten feet wide by five feet deep. Discounting any islands or other obstructions you may have in the rest of the kitchen, the limiting dimension in this case is the ten foot width of the corner.

So what is the largest table that you can comfortably use in this room? Coming in at three feet from each wall, you’re left with 48 inches of space. If you want to keep the table primarily within the breakfast nook, a table that is 48 inches long and 30 inches wide would work well in this space. This size table can comfortably seat four for most informal meals. You may find this table a bit cramped if you are serving a meal that requires multiple plates, bowls, etc.

You have a lot more options if the table reaches into the kitchen a few feet. A 48-inch square table will seat four adults very comfortably. A round table with a diameter of 48 inches can easily seat six people. Rectangular tables up to sixty inches long will fit in this space and also seat six people.

If you’re looking for a new kitchen table, take some careful measurements and be patient when selecting the right table for your home and family.