Homeowners who frequently entertain often opt for drop-leaf tables. A drop-leaf table—a table that has one leaf that drops down into the middle of the table so it extends in length—is an effective solution for small spaces. This type of table is useful, compact and stylish. Drop-leaf tables can be used in formal and in-formal dining room settings.
Elizabethan style drop-leaf tables originated in 16th Century England and were constructed with a Gothic influence. This type of table does not have a leaf that drops into the middle but hinged sides that double the tables length when lifted. Elizabethan tables were typically made of oak in the 16th century; however, in modern times they are made of cherry or walnut. Elizabethan tables are also used as sofa tables, placed behind a love seat or a couch.
Antique and Georgian
Typically round with elaborate details and carvings, antique drop-leaf tables are used as dining tables or in formal living rooms. They provide an elegant, old-world look.
Georgian drop leaf tables have longer sides and their legs are close together, allowing only one chair to be used. Georgian tables are found in workrooms and home offices and have drawers on the sides for storage.
Transitional and Duncan Fife
Transitional drop-leaf tables seat four and are known for their elegant styles and adequate space for numerous dining arrangements. Transitional tables, when fully extended, rival other tables, yet they conserve space when folded. Transitional tables typically come in a set with four chairs. This is the type of table most commonly found in eat-in kitchens and dining rooms.
Duncan Fife drop-leaf tables get their name from an 18th Century American cabinet maker. Duncan Fife created an assortment of tables in addition to the drop-leaf styles, including banquet tables, card tables and tea tables. Duncan Fife tables are neoclassical designs that feature elaborate carvings and claw-footed legs. Duncan Fife tables are commonly seen in drawing rooms and bedrooms.
Drop-leaf tables with two hinged sides that drop down are known as butterfly drop-leaf tables. This design is ideal for small spaces and offers versatility to the homeowner. One side can be dropped and pushed up against the wall to save space and easily pulled out to accommodate for extra seating. The butterfly style often offers a storage space underneath for storing dining tools—napkins, extra plates, silverware or storage for folding chairs.