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Dining in Style

The most important gathering place for many families, the dining table holds a special place in the home. Whether you're fond of hosting large, fancy dinner parties or prefer more intimate meals with family or friends, here's how your table can help set the mood:

Coordinate your dining area.

Before you start your table search, take a look at your dining area. Do you have a separate dining room, or will it be a corner of your kitchen? Do you have a large dining room with plenty of space for a big table, or a limited area to work with?

Dining tables come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it's a round glass top, counter height, or big drop leaf, your dining table should bring your room together without overpowering it.

Show off your style.

Once you've got an idea of the size you're looking for, you can start getting creative with your table's style. Here are a few ideas:

  • Go with glass. A tempered glass table top adds an elegant touch to any dining room. A transparent table top can make a small space appear more open.
  • Upgrade to slate or marble. These materials can create a dramatic effect on your table, adding beautiful texture and patterns.
  • Stick to traditional wood. While wood dining tables sound like a more conventional choice, there's still plenty of room for personalization. You can go with a classic farmhouse look, or get a two-tone beauty with the top and base sporting different finishes. Decide if you want a rustic look, a rich, traditional style, or a sleek, modern update.

Set the scene.

Another consideration when choosing your table is how it will look with your other dining room decor. Do you have a fun, casual vibe going on, or are you more formal with fine china and elegant patterns?

Your table can help complete the look you're trying to achieve. You can add a more casual feel by choosing a round table, or create a more formal look with the right table dressing such as a runner and centerpiece.

Feed a crowd.

If you have a large family, or like to host parties with lots of guests, you'll want to make sure everyone has enough elbow room. But a huge, solid top table may be too much once everyone's gone home.

A great compromise is an expandable table with one or more leaves -- and even here, you have different styles to choose from.

Extension leaves are separate table sections that give you more room; you just pull the table apart at its seam, drop in an extension leaf (or two) and push the table tight around it.

A drop leaf table features extra panels at the ends, which swing up to give you extra dining space. These drop leaves can be supported either by an extra leg that swings down, or by a slide under the table's top.

If you want knee room all the way around the table when it's not extended, and you don't have room to store the separate leaves, a butterfly leaf table might be your ideal solution. This table has a leaf that conveniently folds away under the table's top.

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