If the duty of playing host usually falls on you, it may be time to give your dining table an upgrade. A good extending table works just as well every day as when the occasion calls for accommodating extra guests.
First check how easy it is to operate the extending mechanism: the best designs make light work of it with both sides gliding apart from the centre in one move. It’s also worth checking whether the extra leaves can be hidden within the table for easy storage and to avoid losing them over time.
The table top and extending leaf (or leaves) should be even, and look seamless in a way that doesn’t distract from the table itself. Some designs let you extend in two stages, for added flexibility. Look out for a locking mechanism that keeps the whole table sturdy when extended.
1. Made Betty Oak Table: £499, Made
Exaggerated turned legs on the farmhouse-style Betty table give it an unusual feature and a modern twist. With both top and legs made from solid oak, it feels robust and capable of taking a few everyday knocks. It comes in white, grey and natural finishes. Latches keep the table secure when extended (from a six- to eight-seater) and the smooth mechanism makes it easy work for one person.
2. Danetti Luka Matt White Extending Table: £469, Danetti
A combination of three finishes – oak legs, chrome fixings and a matt white table top – makes the Luka table seem more luxurious than the price would suggest. The versatile design lets you extend the table in two stages, from seating six to either eight or 10. The feature means the furniture can grow with your needs, but the extending table leaves do need to be stored separately.
3. Living by Christian Lemeux Casey Dining Table: £599, House of Fraser
The top of the Casey table is etched with a geometric pattern for a striking effect. The natural grain of the mango wood top is enhanced with a washed white finish. It extends from 140cm to 220cm, making it suitable for up to six seats. The only let-down here is that it doesn’t extend from the middle. The extensions must be attached at either side, making the table feel less sturdy.
4. Oak Furniture Company Etienne Oak Small Extending Table: £349, Oak Furniture Company
Etienne is a traditional-style table in oak and pine that extends from four seats to six. Its looks are a bit “shabby chic” with a distressed paint finish to the legs, but the extending mechanism within the top is surprisingly modern: easy and smooth to use with concealed clips that release the rails. The extra table leaf stows underneath the top.
5. Marks & Spencer Celina Dining Table: £539.40, Marks & Spencer
With a traditional French feel, the Celina table from Marks & Spencer has shaped legs and edges that are painted in a calm grey to contrast with the oak top. A folding middle section takes the table from a width of 181cm to 220cm (up to about eight seats). There’s a matching range of dining chairs available, and Marks & Spencer currently offer 20 per cent off when you buy two or more pieces.
6. West Elm Emmerson Expandable Table: £1,299, West Elm
Like a rugged forest picnic bench, the Emmerson table from West Elm has real character thanks to the chunky reclaimed wood that makes it. Original knots and marks remind of the pine planks’ previous lives and are celebrated with a subtle wax finish. This table extends from 183cm to 236cm to comfortably seat eight. The table is made in Vietnam and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
7. Ikea GLIVARP Extendable Table: £250, Ikea
Ikea’s GLIVARP table has a tempered glass top that is stain resistant, and a chrome-plated frame for a modern look. The table comes with one additional leaf that you insert by sliding the existing two apart. Getting fingerprints on the glass is easy during the process, and it’s a shame that the edge of the glass is left exposed when extended. But overall, it’s a good value table.
8. Habitat Parker Extending Table: £995, Habitat
The oak Parker table extends from eight seats to 10. It has a solid feel but the central frame leg means it’s not bulky to look at, and there are no table legs in the way of your guests. It needs self-assembly and the parts are heavy, so you may require additional help. The extra table leaf stows underneath the table rather than within, which can look a little untidy from the side.
9. Kartell Zooom Extension Dining Table: £1,666.50, Houseology
This sleek piece of designer furniture from Kartell has a black aluminium frame and a top of tempered glass painted black on the underside. A small feat of engineering, its slim frame can be extended in two stages to almost twice its original length. The table extends from one end and the seam is so slight that it’s barely detectable.
10. John Lewis Luna Extending Dining Table: £499, John Lewis
Made from high pressure laminate, the top of the Luna dining table is designed to have a clean contemporary look with a material that’s durable and easy to clean. Adding a 50cm extension leaf takes it from six to eight seats. Some self-assembly is required and extra attention should be paid to attaching the round legs: some customers found them unstable on certain surfaces.
The Verdict: Extending dining tables
The Betty table from Made is a robust table in solid oak that comes with a reasonable price. It looks good both in original and extended forms, thanks to careful attention to the finish and a subtle separating seam. It’s a good all-round family dining table and when it comes to extending, the mechanism is smooth and easy for one person to operate.
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