How to orient yourself in the choice of Tables and chairs
The table is the main focus of a lived-in garden as a complementary space to the house: the family gathers there for dinner in the summer months, friends are hosted there for an aperitif on the terrace, it is certainly one of the most important and indispensable furnishings, and deserves an important part of our budget.
As always, we recommend that everything we choose for our green space, including plants and furnishings, is the coherent result of an overall project: colors, layout, shapes: everything should be functional to our idea of a garden, and not the result of impromptu purchases. .
On the market it is possible to find tables (and chairs) of all materials and all shapes: let's see briefly how to orient yourself:
Let's see the pros and cons of the main materials used for garden tables and chairs:
PLASTIC (or RESIN)
Plastic tables and chairs have the first advantage of being the cheapest choice. Obviously this is to the advantage of our pockets, a little less than aesthetics. They are also resistant to bad weather, they are the lightest, they do not require maintenance, they can be easily moved around the house in case of a Christmas dinner with many guests, in short, they can be very functional.
In reality, in this category there are products with very variable quality (and costs). The cheapest ones will tend to discolour due to UV rays, to take on an ugly appearance after a few years, fragile (especially chairs) and unstable. Quality products, in addition to having a more captivating design, which goes well with a garden furnished in a modern way, will not have the defects listed above, even if they will be less light and decidedly less economical.
The most used woods are Teak and Iroko, exotic essences typical of tropical countries. They are very hard woods that guarantee a good duration even when exposed to the elements. They are generally made of "staves" to contain the weight and avoid water stagnation that would cause them to rot over time.
They are more pleasant and "warm" in appearance than plastic tables, more stable and heavier, suitable for both modern and classic styles. It is preferable to use them away from direct sunlight and bad weather under a pergola or veranda. Here too the costs are very variable, you have to pay attention to the quality of the hardware used for assembly (better in brass), and periodic maintenance with special products must be taken into account (at least twice a year) to prevent the wood dry and gray, and to protect it from stains of oil, wine, etc.
Know that wood is not eternal, but if well maintained it can last for many years.
IRON OR ALUMINUM
Often used in the outdoor spaces of bars and restaurants, of many shapes and colors and therefore suitable for all styles. The iron and aluminum furnishings owe the pleasantness of their appearance mainly to the painting, which is also the most critical aspect of their production and then determines their quality.
The tables in sheet metal, often perforated with designs and shapes, are more suitable for modern contexts. Die-cast aluminum tables and chairs are frequently produced inspired by classic furniture shapes.
Aluminum has no corrosion problems and does not "rust", it produces a white oxide that is not at all pleasant to the appearance but which does not affect its durability, it has great difficulty in maintaining the paint layer so a repainting of occasionally.
Iron tends to rust and this from an aesthetic point of view is not necessarily a defect (antique tables in oxidized iron are of great charm) as long as the iron is thick enough not to be pierced by rust. Furthermore, a rusty iron top would not be usable because it would stain tablecloths and clothes. There are methods to stabilize the oxide of iron or steel surfaces that are very popular (for example Corten) in the most modern furnishings.
CERAMIC OR LAVA STONE
Given that the term "ceramic" that we often associate with the vitrified finish of surfaces is inappropriate: ceramic is actually a material obtained by firing particular clays and is white and opaque in appearance.
Ceramic for various reasons is not used to make table tops. Ceramic, stoneware or terracotta tiles are used to cover a top made of other materials (plywood, iron, etc.)
Another technique to reproduce "ceramicized" surfaces is to use very compact and resistant stones such as lava stone and then treat them superficially in the same way as ceramic is treated, through a process of glazing, brush decoration, application of crystalline more or less shiny and then fix everything through a passage in the oven at temperatures around 1000 ° C.
Terracotta is generally a frost-resistant material as it tends to absorb moisture inside which can cause the material to shatter in the event of sub-zero temperatures. Lava stone due to its compactness does not have this problem.
Since tiles and entire tops are hand-decorated, they can easily be produced according to the individual customer's instructions, customizing the table top with initials, logos, family crests, etc.
The ceramic top does not lose its color over time, it can be exposed to rain and any bad weather, it does not stain (not so the joints between the tiles!) And it is easy to clean.
Its great aesthetic value and its hygiene allow, indeed suggest, to be used without a tablecloth, perhaps with small single placemats.
Although the decor often refers to classic motifs, there are also modern, cheerful and colorful tops.
The bases and chairs are usually made of iron, aluminum or solid wood depending on the style.
The floors are extremely heavy (even several hundred kilos!) And are therefore not suitable for being moved frequently. The cost, whether it is for tiles or for entirely decorated tops, involving a lot of work and a lot of talent, is necessarily higher than for tables made of other materials. On the other hand, in addition to being extremely exclusive, they can be considered truly eternal products handed down for generations.
SHAPES AND DIMENSIONS OF THE TABLES
We obviously don't deal with unusual shapes but with the main geometric shapes. The shape of the table does not depend only on the needs of use and style, but also and above all on the space available.
They are the ones that offer the greatest conviviality at the table (there are no "best" or "worst" seats to be assigned ...) all occupants have an identical position with respect to the others. There is no risk of crossing or colliding with the legs of another diner.
It must be considered that they cannot be extended with other tables. In the event of a number of guests at the table exceeding the available seats, it is necessary to separate the diners on different tables.
Obviously there are also extendable tops, which however change the shape making it an oval table.
They require, with the same number of seats available for diners, a larger free surface than all the other tables. The circular shape is very suitable for small tables (for example tea tables) for 2 or 4 people. It should be borne in mind that by increasing the number of seats and therefore the diameter of the table, the distance of the individual diners to the center of the table will increase with difficulty in reaching objects placed in the middle. The revolving central shelves are very useful for this purpose.
These are the tables that best suit all situations. They can be juxtaposed with one of the sides to a wall or an obstacle in case of confined spaces. If necessary, they can be extended simply by combining tops of equal width and height. They include two "head of the table" which it is preferable to leave empty in the event of a lower number of occupants.
Obviously they are to be preferred if the space available is long and narrow, such as under pergolas, canopies, terraces, etc.
The very long tables are of great charm, evoking the most important receptions and banquets. If they are very long, they must also have an adequate width, to avoid the “brewery” effect.
They are a variant of the rectangular tables, with rounded seats at the head of the table. They have the advantage over the latter that they allow more easily to turn around when placed in tight spaces. Like the round tables, they cannot be combined to have a longer top.
They are suitable for a small number of seats (2 people) or an even number on each side (4 or 8 people).
In the dimensions over 4 seats, they present a series of problems, including the distance from the centerpiece (already seen for round tables) and the ample space required compared to the number of seats available at the table.
More square tables can be combined if necessary
HOW TO CHOOSE THE MEASURES
The minimum side space for each seat is 60cm. For round tables to quickly have the diameter of the table necessary to accommodate a certain number of people it is sufficient to divide the number of seats at the table for 5.
For example to seat 6 people:
6: 5 = 1.20 mt
In fact, a table with a 120cm round top is usually suitable for a maximum number of 6 people.
For rectangular and square tables it will be necessary to take into account additional space at the corners, and if the width of the table is less than 90cm, an additional 40 / 50cm in length will be needed to avoid interference between the occupants of the corner seats and the head of the table.