Dining Table Styles Guide: Types of Tables to Know

Dining Table Styles Guide: Types of Tables to Know

The dining room is the heart of every home. It’s a dedicated space where family and friends gather to make messes and memories over delicious meals. As work and home increasingly collide, the dining room may also be where you plan, play, or find your creative stride. 

Likewise, the dining table has undergone several iterations, shifting and changing alongside human needs. From its earliest adaptations in ancient cultures to its most modern style manifestations, you can still find many of these styles in the dining rooms of the present day.1

Are you curious about the types of tables that can enhance your dining space? Pull up a chair. This guide will walk you through the diverse styles of dining tables and their unique characteristics. 

Traditional Dining Tables

With roots in 18th–19th-century Europe,2 traditional dining tables invoke images of feasting on a roast duck in an English manor house or sipping wine in a French villa. These tables still favor design details from centuries past but with a contemporary twist. 

Traditional dining tables today may be smaller, with less elaborate carvings and curves on their tabletops and legs, but common characteristics of this style are still the picture of poise. Think deep wood finishes in shades of charred ember or tobacco. Table legs with gently sloping lines and mindfully carved bun feet offer added flourish.

This table undoubtedly delivers more than a dash of refinement. Elegant and enduring, formal yet familiar, the traditional dining table is perfect for adding a bit of elegance to your dining space.

Modern Dining Tables

If traditional dining tables borrow from blueprints of the past, modern dining tables take intentional leaps into the future—at least as imagined in the 20th century. 

During the post-war period, furniture was mass-produced and crafted from wartime materials like teak wood and fiberglass.3 The national attitude toward interior design was functionality over fuss. To that end, modern dining tables abandon the ornate designs of previous centuries for more paired-down pieces.4

You can still expect a modern dining table to be designed with that philosophy in mind today. With clean lines, sleek tapered legs, and simple geometric tabletops washed in light or neutral tones, modern dining tables have a retro appeal while still feeling forward-thinking and futuristic.

Rustic Dining Tables

Rustic Dining Tables

Like modern design details, rustic design is readily recognizable but more often misunderstood—with a few moments of reflection, you’ll likely recall images of furnishings fashioned from bark and logs or walls embellished with a smattering of taxidermy. This style is manifestly American, often pictured in more rural regions. 

But contemporary rustic dining tables have come a long way from the backyards of the Adirondacks.5 While tree stumps might not be prominent features on your table, rustic dining tables still promote a natural aesthetic. Weathered, raw-looking solid wood and thick table legs teeming with texture create a cozy, comfortable space to rest and relax.

You don’t have to invite nature’s critters into your home to achieve this natural style. Explore our collection of rustic dining tables and chairs like the Windsor dining chair. Organic yet polished, these pieces will bring the best of the backyard into your home without the mess. 

Farmhouse Dining Table

Farmhouse Dining Tables

What furnishing conjures more charm than the farmhouse dining table? Visualizing this table in your dining space easily arouses sultry summer nights and fresh-cut flowers regardless of the season. Where rustic dining tables read rugged, farmhouse tables still boast backyard beauty but in softer, more subtle forms.

A familiar feature in countryside homes, these types of tables were the favored fixtures of farmers and craftsmen for their functionality.6 Often fashioned from reclaimed wood in neutral hues, additional characteristics like turned legs or painted bases add a burst of presence and prettiness at every corner. Flat, ample tabletops invite the whole family to nosh or play. 

The James+James Farmhouse table brings a taste of the country to your home and kitchen. It promises vintage charm while remaining effortlessly chic so you can channel this pastoral aesthetic—even in the city. 

Dining table

Industrial Dining Tables

Brazen and unabashed in its attitude toward design, the industrial dining table helps itself to the farmhouse aesthetic but with a bit more grit. 

Industrial design took its cues from the hardwearing factories of the 18th century,7 where manufacturing materials were left exposed for ready work. By the 1960s and 1970s, once-used warehouses were reimagined as living spaces,8 and design denizens demanded tables and dining chairs to match.

You’ll still see a mix of materials in these tables today. In fact, a daring blend of elements (typically wood and metal) is the defining characteristic of industrial dining tables. Expect these tables to feature generous, dark wood tops with an iron or raw steel base. Irregular edging on tabletops and exposed nuts or bolts give this table a straight-from-the-factory-floor feel.

These tables work best in large dining spaces that accommodate their impressive presence, but if it's the size you’re after, the industrial table isn’t your only option.

Dining table

Extendable Dining Tables

Perhaps the most adaptable table choice, the extendable dining table is a must-have for the modern home. Extendable dining tables boast versatility and functionality—round, rectangular, and square tables can each feature extensions, and most extensions tuck away within the table for easy use. 

Maximize your dining space with James+James expandable tables. Each table is fit with a 2’ center leaf that locks into the table’s core for effortless in and out. Central extensions ensure stability and offer clean storage. This table is a space saver (and a lifesaver) for those nights you accommodate additional guests—but what about a more compact comparison?

Round dining table

Round Dining Tables

The round table has its place in the dining halls of history as much as its quadrilateral cousins. As early as 17th-century China, round dining tables were adopted in response to a shift in social norms from less hierarchical to more egalitarian alternatives to feasting and gathering.9

Indeed, with its circular table top supported by a central column, round dining table styles promote a sense of connectivity and inclusivity among diners, making it ideal for more intimate dinners and get-togethers. This style also offers an alluring ambidexterity: its soft, circular shape makes it perfect for large and small dining spaces. 

Compare and contrast our diverse selection of round tables at James+James. With a curated collection of finishes and a wide variety of pedestal styles to support every home aesthetic, our round dining tables will certainly make your next soirée sing.  

Square Dining Table

Square Dining Tables

Like the round table, the square dining table reveals simple geometry is an effortless way to elevate your space. 

These tables feature a clean, angular top attached to various bases. Typically available in considerable or compact sizes, square tables work well in designated dining rooms or contemporary settings, such as an open floor plan where kitchen and dining meet.

Browse our collection of square dining tables to get a head start on redefining how you dine. With built-in symmetry and a sense of equilibrium, the square table seamlessly blends into any dining space. 

Dining Table

Rectangular Dining Tables

Possibly the most common table style in the popular imagination, the rectangular table conjures up visions of communion and camaraderie—heads bent in lively conversation as laughter rings across a long table abundant with food and drink materializes in the mind’s eye. 

The rectangular dining table may share the same clean lines as the square table, but its added length on either side makes it the innate choice for hosting during the holidays, special occasions, and everything in between. It typically features four legs, but even a double pedestal base can offer added support for the aunts, uncles, and in-laws. 

If you often play the role of happy host, consider incorporating a rectangular dining table into your dining room. Its classic style and plentiful tabletop make rectangular dining tables the perfect centerpiece for every evening. 

Pedestal Dining Table

Pedestal Tables

Few dining tables offer poise and presence in such a compact design. A single table pedestal confidently commands attention, while two pedestals double down on this dynamic design. 

Pedestal tables, like the Vivian, frequently feature a round or square table top fixed to a stylized central column. With close-knit but comfortable seating, these types of tables rival the romance of the round table. 

Pick out your favorite pedestal table at James+James. Your choice of tabletop shape and size and an almost unlimited selection of pedestal styles make this the ideal table to ground and center any mid-sized space.

Dining table

Trestle Tables

Often considered one of the oldest dining table designs in the Western world,1 the trestle table is a sure conversation starter at your next dinner party. Its essential characteristic is the eponymous trestle or I-beam—a horizontal beam joined on either side by two legs. 

Unlike its earlier iterations, today’s trestle table features ample tabletop space and attached trestles for ultimate artistry and stability. 

Trestle Table Design: Past and Present

In its first form, this table was synonymous with simple planks of wood supported by trestles that were removed and stored when not in use.9>/sup> While its collapsible design made the trestle table ideal for multi-use spaces, its narrow top and inherently unsteady core made it impractical for sitting and eating.10

By the mid-16th century, these tables matured and quickly became mainstays in the Great Halls of history’s elite.9 It remained one of the most popular pieces of furniture for the next three hundred years, adopted by early American settlers as the dining table of choice.10

The trestle table hasn’t deviated from its core design features today, but luckily for the modern diner, some updates have been made. Are you craving a contemporary design with an heirloom look? Tour our collection of trestle tables—from the history books to your home, it’s just one of many dining table styles to choose from. 

Selecting the Perfect Dining Table at James+James

The dining table is the focal point of the dining room—it’s what makes the space tick. Whether you use your dining space for leisure or labor (or both), choosing the right dining table dictates the feel and function of your space. From styles steeped in history to the subtle influence of shape and size, the options for dining table styles are boundless. 

Explore all the possibilities with our diverse selection of custom wood dining tables at James+James. Our tables are handcrafted from sustainably sourced hardwood and topped with a long-lasting polyurethane finish to withstand all the bumps and spills of daily life. Let us worry about the design so you can focus on what matters most—making memories around the dining table for years to come. 


  1. Fine Woodworking. A Short History of Tables. https://www.finewoodworking.com/2005/09/13/a-short-history-of-tables
  2. Architectural Digest. Traditional Interior Design: Everything You Need to Know About This Classic and Timeless Style. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/traditional-interior-design-101
  3. National Design Academy. History of Interior Design: Mid-Century Modern. https://www.nda.ac.uk/blog/history-of-interior-design-mid-century-modern/
  4. Getty. What Is Modern Architecture, Anyway? https://www.getty.edu/news/what-is-modern-architecture-anyway/
  5. Adirondack Life. The Roots of Rustic Style. https://www.adirondacklife.com/2022/09/29/the-roots-of-rustic-style/
  6. Architectural Digest. Farmhouse Style: Everything You Need to Know About This Functional and Cozy Aesthetic. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/farmhouse-style-101
  7. Architectural Digest. Industrial Interior Design: Everything You Need to Know About This Raw and Commanding Style. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/industrial-interior-design-101
  8. MMEA. Round Tables in China: How Round Tables Made Their Way into Chinese Dining Halls. https://mmea.hku.hk/round-tables-in-china-how-round-tables-made-their-way-into-chinese-dining-halls/
  9. Fine Woodworking. A Short History of Tables. https://www.finewoodworking.com/2005/09/13/a-short-history-of-tables
  10. Popular Woodworking. American Trestle Table. https://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/american-trestle-table/

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