Dining areas are always full of activity in group living environments. They’re the main hubs of social interaction while also providing a functional space for meals and special occasions. It’s wonderful to see so much energy contained in a single room.
Designing the best arrangement of tables and chairs in the dining room, however, always requires serious forethought. For example, the room should present a connected, community feeling while allowing enough space for residents to move into and out of their seats without bumping into each other. Sometimes the closeness we value in social activities can be a bit too close!
Consider these tips when designing your dining space:
1. Allow for the space between.
Allow about 24 inches between each chair to avoid side-to-side collisions while residents are dining or moving chairs away from the table. The back-to-back space between chairs can vary depending on how far from the table each resident sits, but an average of 24 inches between two seated diners is usually sufficient. Of course, the distance should increase if your population of residents typically requires more space to walk, giving consideration for any potential trip-and-fall risks. Also allow at least 60 inches between serving areas and dining areas to allow residents to circulate easily.
To furnish your dining space, choose from the many options in our Dining Collection. The chairs include a wide array of styles, from metal and wood frames to upholstered looks, with slim or spacious dimensions that will fit your dining area perfectly. The tables are built to withstand heavy use, and come in a variety of sizes and finishes.
2. Arrange for wheelchair access.
We recommend that you always consult the federal Americans With Disabilities Act standards for dining arrangements that will allow for adequate wheelchair access. Keep in mind that the standards suggest a clear floor area measuring 30 inches wide by 48 inches deep at each accessible seating location
in your dining space. When designing for residents who use wheelchairs, also consider the space behind them where staff might need enough room to access the wheelchair and offer assistance.
The Straight Leg Wood Dining Table is just one of our ADA compliant tables. It has a center clearance of 27 inches to permit wheelchair access. A heavy duty steel insert also reinforces the table legs, ensuring stability for residents. The hard wood is neatly milled with a waterfall edge and no sharp corners.
3. Consider the space needed for cleanup.
At the end of the meal, cleanup should be a simple, efficient process that allows staff to move on quickly to other duties. The best way to speed up the process is to opt for easy-clean surfaces and stackable chairs that can be moved out of the way in an instant. Because optimizing space is always a challenge for residences, we recommend furniture that allows for maximum flexibility.
By far our most flexible dining choice is our line of Stacking Chairs, available with or without arms. When stacked, the chairs sit neatly out of the way and allow for a thorough sweep under dining tables. No need to push chairs into the hallway where they might cause safety issues—just stack ‘em up!
Still not sure what you need? No problem. The experienced (and growing!) team at Furniture Concepts is happy to help you envision, design and plan your space with no cost and no obligation. We understand the unique needs of group living environments and appreciate the opportunity to help you design a customized furniture solution.