How much space do you need for chairs around a table?

At James+James, we’ve been handcrafting and hand finishing beautiful dining furniture for years! We are often asked, “how much space do I need for chairs around a table” and “how do I know how many chairs I need” and we’re here to help.

The number of chairs you need around your table can be figured out in multiple ways. Two tables that are the exact same length and width may be able to accommodate different numbers of people based on the design of the table. For example, a table with four legs may be able to accommodate a different number of chairs than a table with a trestle or pedestal base.

Rule of Thumb
The general rule of thumb is to allow 24 inches of space for every person gathered around your table.

Most side chairs range between 16” wide and 24” wide, with arm chairs being as wide as 30”. If your chairs are 24” wide or wider, add an additional 6” to the total width of your chair for the comfort of your loved ones. You might not want people to knock elbows when eating! If space is limited and you know you need to seat a certain number of people at your table, consider using side chairs all the way around your table or only use arm chairs as host and hostess chairs at the heads of the table.

General Seating Guide

Measure your dining chair at the widest point. For some chairs, this is the seat and for other chairs, the widest point is the back.

If you’re trying to maximize seating, consider using a bench in place of chairs on one or both sides of your table. You can usually seat more people on a bench than the number of chairs you can fit along one side of your table.

Most chairs have a seat height between 17” and 20” and most standard dining tables are approx. 30” tall, so try to allow for between 10” and 12” of clearance between your chair seat and your table top. If your table has an apron, try to allow for approx. 7” of space between the seat of your chair and the apron. If you know a lot of tall people will be gathered around your table, consider a table that does not have an apron so everyone has more leg room!

Our Heirloom Pedestal Table does not feature an apron. 

You want to have around 3’ of space on all four sides of your table so your chairs can be moved in and out easily and people can walk around the table and chairs comfortable when it is filled with friends! A tip that helps hundreds of James+James customers every year - use masking tape or butcher paper to “draw” out a table sized space on your floor. If you’re visual, this can be really helpful!

Still have questions? Our team would love to help. Just shoot your questions to and one of our design consultants will get back to you quickly. Give us a call at 479-633-7557 or leave us a comment below!

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