Designing And Planning Eating Areas

Wherever you eat (and let’s face it, dining rooms are dying out), although it should be near the cooking area, you will want it to be relaxed and comfortable. The table should be your focal point, and the lighting not too harsh.

CHOOSING THE FURNITURE

When buying tables and chairs there are two things to consider: what you will do with them when they’re not in use, and if they will be practical and comfortable with enough knee/leg room.

People need a surprising amount of space, and if your space is very limited, a built-in counter with stools or wall benches may be the answer. The counter can double as a work top, but must be at least 20 cm (8 in)wide. Stools should be 25-30 cm (10 in – 12 in) lower. A bench will seat more people, but in that case the table must not be supported from the edges or your eaters will find it difficult to get in and out. Wall seating usually has to be tailor made, but it is quite simple to construct. Stacking or folding chairs look quite good nowadays, though you should have a cupboard or other space to put them in when they’re not needed. Chairs with arms or struts may not fit if you want to push them under the table.

A table that folds right away, or an expanding table (with wings or leaves) can be a godsend in a small space. A table should be at least 75 cm (2 ft 6 in) wide if you are using both sides. Each person will need about 60 x 37.5 cm(24 in x 15 in) for their plates, cutlery, glass, etc. So, to seat six people, around table should be 1.35 m (4 ft 6 in) in diameter, and a square table should be 1.35 m (4 ft 6 in) square. To allow people to push back chairs, and to have space for serving, you’ll need at least 90 cm (3 ft) between the table and the wall.

DIVIDERS

If you are eating in the same area as your kitchen, and want to divide it off, there are various possibilities. A curtain to hide kitchen clutter is the cheapest solution.

Units built out into the room will provide a partial wall, and louvred doors right across the room will provide a complete one. If the kitchen and eating area are adjacent, a wall ‘hatch’ (a ‘window’ between the rooms) is a useful idea, especially if you have two people preparing the meal. In an existing door frame you could fit swing doors (but only if you have plenty of space on both sides) or a ‘stable’ door, made of two sections, the bottom one remaining closed. If there’s often something else happening in the dining area — the kids’ homework or grandfather’s stamp collecting — there must be adequate storage for that too, to reduce the grumbles when they’re forced to clear for tea.

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