What Is a Butterfly Leaf Dining Table?


It is difficult to picture a home without a table. Whether you use a table's surface for working on or eating from, a table is a staple element. Space issues, however, often require buying for the space you have rather than for desired function. A butterfly leaf dining table is a practical solution for the space-conscious furniture buyer.


  • An early version of a drop-leaf dining table was the gate-leg table, the two extra legs of which were swung out when needed to support the table's leaves. While that kind of table was used in Colonial America from the late 1600s, butterfly tables were developed there about 1710. They were typically smaller than gate-leg tables, and they were named for their wing-shaped leaf supports that extend.


  • To extend the butterfly leaf, someone simply pulls on one end of the table. A gap opens in the table's middle, allowing room for the leaf. Once the leaf is in place, the edges of the table's two ends are pushed against the edges of the leaf until no gap remains. Similarly, when finished using the table, someone pulls on one end of the table, pulls up on one side of the leaf until it folds in the middle and then presses the folded leaf into the storage place. The table's ends are then pressed back together.


  • Butterfly leaf tables offer a convenient solution to space issues in small dining areas. These tables can be extended when more seating is needed yet are self-stored, and so they do not require additional storage space. When the leaf is not in use, it folds neatly underneath the table, hidden from sight. An additional benefit of butterfly leaf tables is that they have no need for extra legs and supports as with some drop-leaf and gate-leg tables.


  • Butterfly leaf tables come in various shapes and sizes. From round, to rectangular, to oval, they come in many colors and styles. Single pedestal, two-legged and four-legged versions are made. Some even offer an additional drop-leaf for added space-saving and functionality. They also vary in height. Most are waist high, but counter height is becoming more common.


  • The cost for a butterfly leaf table varies depending on its size as well as its type and material quality. For example, a butterfly leaf table made from rubber wood with a cherry finish that seats four may cost less than $300, and a similar option made of pine may cost more than $1,000. Numerous options are within the $200 to $500 range. (All prices are for 2010.)

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  • Photo Credit table of dessert pie on white table image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com
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