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Space saving dining tables for small spaces big on character

antique dining table


Grand Victorian homes with generously proportioned rooms allowed plenty of space for large pieces of furniture, but many of us today occupy intimate, modern spaces in which we have to opt for pieces that take up less space. Often, our spaces have to be multi-functional too, with a dining area being incorporated into the kitchen or lounge. But that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style, and no matter how small your dining space may be, it is always possible to find room for a functional antique or vintage dining table and still save space.

From the simple tables of the Medieval period, which consisted of planks of wood resting on a pair of trestles, the humble dining table has come a long way. If you are looking to furnish a more modestly sized space, think practical; a dining table that will double up as a work station for example. Scale must also be considered – small isn’t always necessarily best; select the largest piece you can, without upsetting the flow of the room. Consider, also, the quality of your table. An antique table or vintage piece will be strong enough to cope with the multipurpose demands on it AND be aesthetically pleasing. In terms of quality, sturdiness, sustainability and price, an antique or vintage dining table will always fair better than a contemporary, High Street item.

Here, we examine a variety of antique and vintage dining table types, which will suit the smaller to medium sized home.

Round tables

A round dining table works well for the smaller home, despite not being able to fit perfectly into a corner of the room. The absence of corners allows every inch of the table’s surface to be used while the shape allows diners to sit all the way round its circumference. Aesthetically, a round table also gives the illusion of being small and intimate, never giving the sense of it having empty seats around it.

Gate leg tables

First introduced in the late 17th century, gate leg tables were the solution to the change in dining habits from large get-togethers to small, intimate arrangements. A traditional gate leg table features two hinged leaves that are supported on pivoted legs, that drop down when not in use. They get their name from the way the pivoted legs swing out from the frame, like a gate. These are the perfect choice for smaller settings as they can be stored against a wall when not in use, or double as an accent table.

Drop leaf tables

Similar to a gate leg table, a drop-leaf table features two leaves that are hinged and which fold down on each side of a central fixed section. Unlike a gate leg table, the leaves are supported by a bracket rather than pivoting extra legs. This type of table is versatile in terms of the shape and size and is well suited to the more modestly sized dining space. Vintage drop leaf tables, particularly those dating from the mid-20th century, are functional and stylish.

Pie crust tables

Originally used as a tea table in the mid-18th century, a pie crust table is so called for the raised, scalloped edge it features which resembles a crimped pie crust. It usually has three legs and a round table top which typically measures up to 30 inches in diameter, sufficient for dining à deux. The pie crust table has a tilt top, allowing it to be folded down when not in use.

Extendable tables

Suited for a mid-size room where you do not need a larger table on a day-to-day basis, an extendable table is a practical solution for those who entertain. Available in different shapes and sizes, an extendable table features leaves which can be added to create space for extra table settings and then stored away when not in use.

Kitchen tables

Traditionally the heart of the home, not all kitchens can accommodate a large pine farmhouse kitchen table. However, if the kitchen is also your dining area, all of the styles of table mentioned here will provide a space-saving dining area. However, to ensure your table copes with the spillages likely to occur in a kitchen (from food preparation, for example), choose solid wood or Formica, popular during the mid-20th century.

Nowadays, quality, antique dining tables on a small scale can be found at reasonable prices and if you are looking for antiques for a smaller space, Hemswell antique centres are the place to find an item quickly, from dealers with the authority for authenticity. Pieces can be examined at your leisure while you enjoy a day out at Europe’s largest antique centre, exploring our myriad of rooms filled with beautiful examples of antique and vintage dining tables. As a seller, the centres attract interest from all over the world, with virtual tours now being offered for those no longer able to visit us in person. 

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