As for leaving a minimum of 36″ between the table and the wall, that is a perfectly acceptable start. If you have a service piece, like a sideboard or chest, you need to allow a few more inches to walk behind the chairs, so you and your guests have room to access what’s on it without becoming a nuisance to other diners.
If you have less than 36″, don’t fret. Just clear the room of additional furnishing to make it live larger. There is nothing wrong with serving a buffet or seated dinner from another room. You can also place a bench or settee against one wall, restaurant style, and use your chairs around the three remaining sides.
Using a 36″ wide table is the best case scenario, but to be realistic, that is not possible for everyone. If you take Mrs. Howard’s suggestion of 36″ allowance for seating, double it and add in Ms. Moss’ recomended width for a table, you are looking at a minimum of 9′ 0″ in width for a dining room, not including space for service or case goods.
If you have the square footage, go for it. If you don’t, I’d rather see you reduce the width of the table by a couple of inches than try to squeeze your poor guests into a tight spot. I will add to Ms. Moss’s statement by sharing that if it’s at all possible, plan for a table with 24″ in width by 18″ in depth of personal space for each diner. Elbow room, if you will. It also leaves a little space to include last minute additions to your guest list.
The room now contains an expandable round table and the floor plan functions as it should. The leaves are difficult to store, so I leave them on all the time. For small gatherings, we eat at the kitchen table or island, but when the whole gang is here I love congregating around the dining room table. Lots of fascinating and unusual discussions over (mostly) delicious meals have been held there. I treasure those evenings.
I saved this quote for last, because I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a more asinine or pretentious statement. Maybe I have, but none come to mind at this moment and this moment is all I’m guaranteed. (I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I won’t be invited to Mr. Couturier’s house for dinner anytime soon, or ever.)
Why in the world would I expend the energy to invite you over, shop for ingredients, spend all day cooking and cleaning, before getting out of my jammies, slipping into my good clothes and slapping on some face paint just to make you feel slightly uncomfortable? That makes no sense to me. At all.
I put forth the effort because I want to spend time with you, engaged in lively conversation, over a great meal accompanied by good wine. Seated in my comfy dining room chairs, my guests have been known to linger at my table for hours and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, I’m feeling the need to host a girls night in. We shall wear fancy aprons while we cook and dine on my best china (Ha!), all while in our finest pajamas. We will sit and laugh for hours.
That sounds like a perfect evening to me!