Measure Smart: Dining Dimensions

All the measurements you need to plan a beautiful, comfortable dining room--from rug size to chandelier height.

In most cases, arranging furniture in a dining room is a pretty standard equation. Center your table and chairs in the room and install a light fixture over the table, place a hutch or sideboard along one wall and you're good to go. So why does furniture lay out pale in dining rooms more than in any other room of the house? I'm Lacey Howard, editor of Decorating Magazine and I'm here to show you how to plan a dining room that works beautifully for you, your family, and your guest. Have you ever crowded around the table and attempted to eat a meal with your elbows glued to your sides? It doesn't make for a pleasant evening. Each diner should have about 22 inches of table space, more if the table setting is elaborate. A beautiful floral centerpiece announces to guest that a special evening is in store. At most, tabletop arrangement should be about 16 inches tall. This allows your guest to see each other across the table. It should also be off set with play settings so that no one's face or plate is directly in the flowers. Lighting is an important element of a great dining experience. As a rule of thumb, a traditional light fixture should measure about 1 foot less than the width of your table. Fixtures with more substantial volumes such as the strong pendant maybe a bit smaller. Generally, the bottom of your fixtures should be about 3 feet from the tabletop. Because most dining rooms offer a few textiles to contrast against the wood furniture, a beautiful rag can add a lot. One mistake many people make is choosing one that's too small. A well-proportioned rag extends at least 16 inches beyond all edges of the table. The biggest problem is that dining rooms are often undersized for the furniture they hold. The clearance from table edge to nearest wall or obstacle should be about five and a half feet. That means if your table is 6 feet long, the room should be about 17 feet long. Of course, we all may have no choice but to leave the smaller clearances. But for a small room, look for the most compact table that will still accommodate you and your guest. Whether you're throwing a formal dinner party or having Wednesday night dinner with the family, you want your guest to be comfortable. Follow these simple formulas and all you'll have to worry about is the menu. I'm Lacey Howard, happy dining.