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Dining tables have been in our homes for hundreds of years, but I’d argue it’s a design that’s not quite been perfected. If you’ve ever planned a wedding, and had to choose between rectangular banquet tables or round ones, you’ll have an idea as to why.
The standard shapes of dining tables have their limitations when it comes to hosting larger numbers. Large rectangular tables are more intimate, but your guests end up interacting in smaller pockets, while on a large round table, you may be able to see all your dinner party-goers, but they’ll feel a little distant, and the center of the table out of reach.
However, now, we’re seeing new shapes used for table which up-end the traditional dynamics created in a dining room. Irregular shapes, faceted with angles or swooping curves are creating a new relationship between the people using these spaces, sparking more free-flowing conversation and allowing you to better engage with everyone around the table.
1. Irregular shapes
Designer Kristen Peña, founder of San Francisco-based K Interiors, employed such an idea in the design of the open plan kitchen in a home in Napa Valley. 'The formal dining is not so formal and shares an open floor plan with the kitchen,' Kristen tells me. 'The proximity to the kitchen keeps it a little more casual, but perfect for the type of usage the family likes.'
In the adjoining dining space, a table shaped like none I’ve seen before takes centerstage. It’s irregular, tapers from one end to the other and has angles (though with curved edges to ensure it’s still welcoming). The result is a dining table that seats eight, but creates a set-up where each of the seats better relates to each of the others. 'We wanted to play with shapes in the dining room,' Kristen says, ‘Its design also makes it a piece that encourages convenient conversations, while the chairs provide both comfort and interest with their back design.'
This irregularly-shaped oval table has clever leg design and placement that ensures they're never in the way when using the table.
2. Hexagonal shapes
Many of the tables we’re seeing are bespoke creations by the home’s interior designer, carefully considered to fit these spaces, but it’s a dining table trend you can find furniture designers employing, too.
The use of angled facets is an idea that you’ll see through Pierre Yovanovitch’s design work, for example, but it’s particularly prominent in the designer’s dining tables. The Kim table, for example, is a soft-edged hexagon, while the Liberty is a more traditional rectangular shape, but that tapers in so that guests can better engage across the table. The Rochefort is a nine-sided polygon, in the larger shape of a triangle, that adds a different dimension to your dinner party than a rectangular table ever could.
3. Triangular tables
It was this more triangular dining table shape that inspired interior designer Matt Mckay in the design of a modern Manhattan apartment. The dining table from Pierre Yovanovitch’s collection makes up the apartment’s only dining space. 'This client asked that the space be cozy for weekend morning coffee and reading but also elegant in candlelight for a formal dinner,' Matt explains.
The shape of the table changes the dynamic entirely. 'It creates a really communal convivial dining experience,' Matt says, 'where all guests can be engaged but not feel too far away, which can happen with large circles.' The table is complemented by another burgeoning decorating trend - the dining sofa. 'This client asked that the space be cozy for weekend morning coffee and reading but also elegant in candlelight for a formal dinner,' Matt recalls. 'The banquette in the window marries these two ideas and begs diners to linger a little longer.'
The dining sofa is an idea that complements these irregular tables well, whether it’s a loveseat on one side of a table, or a curving sofa that perfectly mirrors a more organically-shaped design.
The trend extends to outdoor spaces, too - this table is the perfect social shape for entertaining on a patio
What other benefits are there?
The cleverest thing this evolution of the dining table does is overcome a common problem: table leg placement. ;This custom table ideas allows for a fun shape and interesting leg placement, so many people can accommodate it at once,' says Kristen Pena. The tables are designed with no ‘bad’ seat where your own legs are jammed against the table’s.
In Pierre Yovanovitch’s designs, the legs sit gracefully around the edge of the table (keeping the sturdiness this option allows over a central pedestal), but perfectly positioned between the table’s facets, while for Kristen’s table, the legs are placed irregularly to mirror the tabletop, but never in a space that a guest would occupy.
Whether bespoke, or from a designer’s collection, there’s a question mark over whether this trend has ‘trickle-down’ appeal for those on not such an extensive budget.
They’re more complex, and may require thought on a dining room’s layout, while being less practical in small dining rooms. For the rooms with the topography to take on these irregular designs, they’re undoubtedly the evolution of the dining table - as close to the perfect table design you’ll find.
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Hugh is the Deputy Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2023.
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