FAQs about Butterfly Leaf Tables

by Trisha Berendt

Also known as expandable tables, butterfly leaf tables are a helpful solution for solving space problems in a small dining room. Traditional dining room tables take up more space, and not everyone has that kind of space. Rather than settling for a smaller table that can't accommodate guests on special occasions, you can use a table that can be extended to allow for more seating when you need it. Here are the answers some of the most frequently asked questions about butterfly leaf tables.

Frequently Asked Questions:

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  • How do butterfly leaf tables work?

    Butterfly leaf tables have a section in the center that can be removed to shorten them while not in use for large get-togethers. Some have a section that is removed completely and stored in a closet, while others hide underneath the table when not in use. When you're ready to extend your table, just pull on one end and a gap will widen in the middle and be replaced by the leaf. Although butterfly leaf tables usually only have one leaf that can be removed, they still save a lot of space.

  • How much space is saved?

    While the length of the table will vary depending on the brand and model, the butterfly leaf extension is typically 18 inches wide. For instance, if you buy a 78-inch-long table, removing the leaf will shorten it to 60 inches, saving 18 inches of space. This amount can make all the difference in a dining room with limited space. And when you add the leaf back in, it's usually just enough space to add two extra chairs to the table, one on each side.

  • What are butterfly leaf tables made of?

    They are most often made out of wood because metal and glass cannot usually accommodate a separate leaf. Some tables feature composite wood with a veneer. Others are solid hardwood; these will be considerably more expensive. What you choose should depend on your budget as well as the overall design of your existing living room. Dark tables look nice in contemporary rooms, and a lighter wood table looks more casual.

  • How do I choose the right size?

    First, consider how many people are in your immediate family as well as how many people you would like to have over for special occasion dinners. Smaller versions will often seat four to six people without the leaf, and they'll expand to seat six to eight people. Larger versions may seat up to 12 people once they're expanded. Second, consider space. Measure your dining room before you shop. While the leaf will save you 18 inches when not in use, longer tables might not fit in your dining room. You'll want to leave room for people to walk around all side of the table, too.