A good dining set can make the whole room come together, accentuate the depth of your space, and be a talking point for all of your guests. That said, finding a high quality piece, let alone a dining table and matching dining chairs, can be a challenge.
In antique shopping, you may find yourself questioning the authenticity of a piece from an unknown seller. You may also have trouble with availability, if you are searching for the genuine article. Even if you’re willing to settle for a style if not a genuine piece, it can be hard to know where to begin.
Let’s look at some of the factors that will help you narrow down when you search for antique dining room sets:
Antique Dining Room Set Manufacturers
If you’re looking for the authenticity of an antique look to your furniture, but you don’t want to hunt auctions or local shops, there are a number of resources out there to provide you access to the pieces that you have in mind.
Reproductions and hand-crafted styles that are faithfully followed from historical examples are available in shops devoted to providing this authenticity. This industry may be niche, but it thrives by providing to everyone from enthusiasts to Hollywood sets.
Laurel Crown Handcrafted Furniture brings 30 years of experience to recreating centuries-old style. They pride themselves on authenticity, but they are also open to customization requests.
They specialize in mahogany woods pieces while also offering accessories in mirrors and more, and so they can provide both full sets and extra pieces to complete your look if you’re aiming for the pre-1900 era.sets.
Collection Reproductions is a great choice if you’re looking to offer a little variety to your wood scheme and add iron. With European stylings from the 18th and 19th centuries, they’ll maintain a classic look with dedication to the sturdy craftsmanship of yesteryear.
Manasses Henry Furniture Company
Manasses Henry Furniture Company offers a taste of early 20th-century Americana, offering some modern takes on the older world as well as more period-placed creations. They have a great selection for anyone looking for antique stylings but not wanting to cross the Atlantic for their ambiance.
Maison Furniture is a great resource for anyone looking to the 20s and 30s art deco stylings. With sweeping curves and geometric creativity, their pieces create a space that can be refined for American, French, and Italian tastes – the three origins of the art deco boom.
Styles Of Dining Room Antique Sets
The styles of antique dining tables will depend on their origin and era. The earliest you’ll likely find on the market come from the 18th and 19th centuries, as most antique designs that precede that period have not lasted the test of time.
Those from the 18th and 19th centuries will be a mix of reproductions from the medieval era and styles that appealed to the modern Victorian sense.
Let’s take a look at a few of the more popular styles in turn:
Trestle tables are what you might imagine appearing in medieval castles or viking halls. They’re long, wooden tables supported by a horizontal beam below the tabletop connecting the legs along the length of the table.
While likely not an easy fit for a residential home, the simplicity of the design combined with the width of the table could make for an attractive buffet piece guiding visitors along the way from salad and appetizers to cookies and cakes.
A hutch, in the western sense, is a truly fascinating piece to look at and great for a conversion in a room while also making a statement. Imagine a tabletop that was supported by the bottom half of the chair and operated on a hinge.
You lift the tabletop revealing a seating chair with two arms and the tabletop itself becomes a great winged back of the chair. Much different from the “china hutch” that is more popular, this medieval design is nothing if not a conversation starter.
A pedestal table is a simplified, non-convertible version of the hutch table, inasmuch as it shares on common one support in the center of the table. The tabletop shapes can vary, but the most common are circular and you have likely seen some of these pedestal designs as new arrivals in furniture stores, as the style remains popular today.
As implied by the name, the leg table differs from the pedestal design by applying four legs at each corner the way most standard tables do. The design of Victorian tables are often particularly elegant, and the overall quality indicates a feeling of comfort, making these a great choice for beautifully framed photos, mirrors, and other decorations.
A drop-leaf table is designed to have a base support down the middle while hinges on both sides allow you to raise and lower the wings of the table. These tables vary from shape to shape but are ideal to act as kitchen tables in spaces where the compact transformation can come in handy.
Smaller Table Options
If you’re looking for an antique that would be perfect for a lamp or a book, the side table designs you’ll want to search for include tea tables and trumpet tables.
Tea tables – as the name implies, were designed for serving guests and family members, so the design leans a bit smaller. If a tea set isn’t to your preferences, and no lamp style fits the look, a stately chess set would complete the setup nicely.
Trumpet tables – are named for their shape rather than their intent. Designed in the late 19th century to hold wind-up victrola players, the wide tabletop tapers down to a pedestal giving it a trumpet-like shape and a distinct statement for the room.
Early 20th Century Tables
Often the pieces that you’ll see of this time period will be much simpler than the examples of the Victorian era and the art deco period in the second quarter of the 20th century.
One of the prime popular examples of the early 20th century design are those popularized by the Shaker Amish. Simplicity was key in their design, with a focus on top quality precision and the excellence of skilled craftsmanship.
Distinctive styles of these table and chair sets would include ladder back chairs made up of lined backs, woven seats, and American wood such as oak, cherry, pine, and maple. For a true Americana style, right down to the classic rocking chair, you can’t go wrong with these designs.
How Do I Know If My Dining Room Set Is Antique?
The history of an antique can be difficult to tell without a wide array of expert knowledge. From small differences in style to color differences showing the quality of the material, experienced professionals have a number of ways to identify authenticity in an antique as opposed to a reproduction.
That’s why if you’re ever unsure of your value, before or after purchase, an independent appraiser will help you find peace of mind. If you want quick answers, there are online resources designed to help with that process.
If you want to turn your eye to signs that a piece might be antique at first glance, there are several indications to look out for:
Maker’s marks are signature symbols left behind by the original builder. They’ll be out of sight so as not to ruin the aesthetic of the piece itself. If you turn over a china plate, you’ll likely see one of these stamps on the bottom. These will be present on some, but not all, antique pieces.
Maker’s marks can be a sign of authenticity but might not tell you much about the true value. There are so many marks left behind from history that appraisers often look at other aspects in order to figure out a piece’s worth on the market.
Signs of age
Signs of age are interesting indications of authenticity because for a reproduction, it will likely sell better as a whole piece than a damaged one. So if you’re seeing unnatural staining and hairline cracks, they’re more likely to be genuine traces of age than manufactured for a look.
The antiques that have survived to this day did so before power drills and machine assembly. Any sign that the piece was handcrafted is a good sign that it was built before the mid-20th century at least.
Pull out the drawers of a table you’re checking: does it look sturdy while also staying true to the materials of the build? Do you see dovetail joints that will hold together without glue or epoxy? These are signs that the piece is antique, or at least, built with the understanding of the limitations of hand craftsmanship.
Consistency of style
Consistency of style is an important feature to look out for in any antique. Many older pieces were reused by combining them together, creating what is called married furniture. It’s a convenience in style, but also a sign that your antique is no longer genuine.
If you see layers to your piece that feel like they were awkwardly placed one on top of another, or the finishes are different, don’t assume that these are faulty methods of craftsmanship from another time in history. The artisans of the past were experienced, and an inconsistent look is much more likely the sign of a married piece than an original’s poor build.
Where Can I Buy Antique Dining Room Sets?
For authentic antiques, you might have to do some searching, but specialty sites such as that of antiquities specialist Marc Maison can provide valuable finds at appraised and determined quality.
A slightly larger example would be that of the Harp Gallery, offering a wide variety of items for the discerning eye.
Collectors Weekly is another example of finds, allowing antique enthusiasts to skip driving from shop to shop and go online for buying and selling opportunities by adding their own items.
In a more free-for-all environment, auction sites like eBay can be a good resource, but the “buyer beware” mentality is ever present. Always check a seller’s history and customer feedback, as well as if they have any credentials or evidence to back up their claims of authenticity in order to ensure that you are not paying for a reproduction while expecting a genuine antique.
Whether dealing with an experienced individual’s work or a gallery, however, antiques are all about the search. It may simply be a matter of availability. The more resources you gather, the better a chance you’ll find the right piece when it pops up in an individual’s, or gallery’s, collection.
Whether you’re looking for a particular style to match your vintage dining room, or you’re on the hunt for a matching set that will make the most of your available space, the perfect table is out there somewhere.
Try to think about what you’d like for your space, in terms of style and shape. Then, whether you want to invest in a true antique or are willing to have a reproduction in its place. These decisions should filter your options down to a manageable set of choices in which to conduct your search.
With a little patience and a good eye for building your space mentally, you should be well-prepared to purchase a piece that you won’t regret.