3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!


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Hey all! Three super important tips today if you’re planning any spaces with a table & chairs — your kitchen eating area,  dining room, a game corner, or your home office desk/chair combo.


First off! Can you tell me what’s wrong with this picture?


3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!
via source


There’s nothing wrong with the furniture itself, per se. The table and chairs — independently — look quite lovely. I’m looking at this spot.

3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!

1. When High is TOO High


This is one of the problems that homeowners of prior generations — back when most people walked into a furniture store in person to furnish their homes — didn’t face, because they could TEST things. But now that we buy almost everything online, we can’t verify through experience that everything will fit like we think it will. We have to rely on information


And while, sometimes, we may forget to look for it, sometimes the information isn’t even available!


A dining table is usually 30″ high. So, when figuring for clearance for arm height on a chair, you need to factor in the thickness of the table and the depth of the apron, if there is one.


Now this above chair does provide pretty good measurements.

3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!


But, I won’t kid you. 27.4″ is pretty high for an arm. That only allows the table top to be up to 1.25″ thick for clearance. I couldn’t find the exact table, but even if I did, you almost never see a measurement for how thick the table top is.


That’s also a pretty high seat at 20.7″. Granted, an upholstered seat will compress, but keep the height of the seat in mind further on in this post. 


Anywho! Back to table thickness. Unless I could VERIFY that the table top was only 1″ thick, I’d probably pass on this combination.


The table in the above example doesn’t even have an apron


2. Table Aprons — Nothing to Do With Neatness


3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!


Sometimes called a “skirt,” a table apron is employed on many table styles. It can range from 1.5″-4″ in depth and provides both structural support in itself as well as hides other, more unsightly structural elements like corner blocking or mechanical elements like extension mechanisms and self-storing leaves.


Here is an example of a dubious arm chair/table apron situation.


3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!
via source


Now, it could just be the camera angle that makes it look as though the arms will run into the table apron.


3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!


The table top is 1.5″ thick according to the website. So, the apron couldn’t be more than 2.75″ in order to give the arm chair .5″ to slide under. But the apron height isn’t available.

Don't Make This Measurement Mistake with Your Table & Chairs!

Don't Make This Measurement Mistake with Your Table & Chairs!
via source

So, in this situation, I would call up customer service and ask for more details. Sometimes they don’t have it, but sometimes they do. If you can’t find the information, you can do one of 3 things:

  1. Order the combo anyway and leave it to chance.
  2. Don’t use arm chairs on the ends of your table.
  3. Keep the arm chairs and switch to a table without an apron.



3. Making Space for Your Legs


When a table has an apron, you need to be doubly careful.

  1. Make sure you have room for any chair arms, as we discussed above.
  2. Make sure you have room for your legs!!!

The seat height for chairs varies between 17″-20″. If your seat is upholstered, like in our first example, it will probably compact a bit, taking that 20.7″ down and inch or two, depending upon the “give.”


However, it could also be hard as a rock with no “give” at all. No telling, unless you’ve actually been able to sit in it … which is difficult to do nowadays, like we said!


3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!

The Pottery Barn chair on the left has a seat height of 20″. The chair on the right has a seat height of 17.5″. (Notice the table with an apron!)


You should figure on about 7″ clearance between the bottom of your table and the top of your chair seat. So if you have a seat with a 20″ crown, you probably don’t want a table that is 1.5″ thick and a 4″ apron — you’ll only have 4.5″ of clearance for your legs.


Now, that upholstered chair seat might compress 2″, and then you’d basically be fine. But it might be worth a call (or a visit, if one is nearby) to Pottery Barn to check!


Do you HAVE to follow these tips? NO!


“Rules” are made to be broken, and I’ve decided not to follow the above tips here and there for purposes of my own. For example, the bench seat in my kitchen has less than 7″ of space below the apron. (Oh, the HORROR!) J.K. The upholstered cushion does compress a couple of inches, and no one in my family has very big legs anyway, so it’s all cool.


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All I want you to take away from these tips are some general best practices, so that if you choose to do something different, you’ve done so WITH INTENTION.




These tips are just a *few* of many in my new 23-page “Space Planning for Decorating Success!” Guide.


Insider's Guide to Space Planning


I want to help you say “Goodbye” to fear of those empty & intimidating rooms, and “Hello” to confidence and progress! All for the little bitty price of $39.






Any questions about today’s topic? Any questions about Home Glow’s Space Planning Guide? The Home Glow Method???? I’m all ears!


As I write this, it’s already Saturday. Actually, it’s been Saturday for a couple of hours. It’s been very busy, but a good busy. A looking-forward-as-well-as-enjoying-the-present busy. I’m super excited with projects underway, and possibly even more excited for the upcoming Spring 2021 Class of The Method. From the way the wait list looks, I think it’s going to be really great! I can’t wait to interact with all of you in the Facebook Group, show you what I’ve got going on, and help you with your own projects. Summer will be well-earned by all!

Happy Saturday, everyone, and stay healthy!!



Insider's Guide to Space Planning




5 thoughts on “3 TIPS to Avoid Measurement Mistakes with Your Tables & Chairs!”

  1. Great tips and things to think about when ordering dining tables and chairs!
    Just my thoughts about “rules.” There is a difference between the rules of decor, regarding pattern/color/style, and the rules of just plain physics. I think it’s okay to break rules of decor, if it results in something that you like aesthetically. But breaking rules of physics, like buying that first table and chairs and expecting to be able to slide the chair closer to the table, well that’s just not going to happen!
    Always enjoy your posts, Amy!

    1. True. I guess meant that if some things were “characteristically imperfect,” i.e. you had an irregular situation with an antique table or really wanted some distinctive host chairs that only pushed in under an overhang as far as an apron (the depth to which can vary a lot). But yes, chairs that don’t push in at all are not desirable! Thanks for clarifying!

  2. Yes! This so important – thanks for spelling it all out. Another table feature to watch out for is the placement of legs and any features connecting them. I have an awesome antique table with integrated leaves that pull out the ends. But the space between the legs on the sides is just shy of fitting two chairs without a leg-knee conflict. In addition the pieces connecting the legs a few inches above the floor – sorry I don’t know the correct name – prevent chairs near the legs from pushing in all the way. For every day use for the 4 of us, not an issue. With guests, we manage. But I am on the look out for a round table to replace it. I love this table for many reasons but basic functionality and fit are primary.

    1. Absolutely! It can be hard to think of everything, especially when you’re working with already-owned pieces. I had to let go of our much-loved antique farm table with the renovation. It worked for 4 wonderfully, but the legs weren’t positioned for more than that and our seating needs changed. Fortunately, I love our “new” antique table just as much… but I had to look for it for a year and a half! 🤪

  3. Our farm table apron is fine with our family but we know a few extra-tall men with long sturdy limbs who can’t get their legs under the apron! It’s a bit embarassing when I noticed. A propos of tables- I’m over the plasticky poly coating on ours, ease of wiping notwithstanding, and ready to refinish it (which it needs anyhow). I don’t mind wear and tear/life marks showing as long as it’s not every drop ever spilled. Might you have suggestions for what type of finish would lend that more relaxed and authentic antique farm table vibe?

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