When we first moved into our house, we brought our circular dining table from our New Jersey condo with us. After a year however, we decided we wanted to upgrade the table, as it only seated 6, and it fit awkwardly in our house’s rectangular dining space. A lot of hobby gamers play their games on a custom board gaming table, and we looked at getting one for our dining room.
The advantages of a custom game table for us were:
- A nice playing surface
- A contained area to roll dice and keep other components on the table
- Individual player dashboards to hold cards and tokens
- Cup holders
- The ability to cover the playing surface and keep a game stored long term
We ended up not buying one for a few reasons:
- We prefer to play games in our dining room space, so we needed it to work as a dining table
- We also wanted to be able to host large family and friend dinners, and most custom tables couldn’t hold more than 6
- The custom options were more (way more!) than we wanted to spend
- We didn’t like the look of the custom options
So instead, we looked at buying a new dining table, dining chairs, and adding a few upgrades to improve our game playing experience.
For the table, we chose a West Elm Mid-century table because we liked the aesthetic, which fits in nicely with our mid-century house, it included a leaf to expand it for large family dinners, and it was a comfortable price. (Of course, after we’ve lived with it for a few years, we find we rarely wish to remove the leaf and make it smaller. Oh well.) Chairs are particularly important to me due to the pain from the autoimmune disease, so I wanted something that was padded, didn’t have a scoop back, and were really light (plus liking the aesthetics and price). We ended up choosing Crate and Barrel’s Lowe chairs – it helped that we live around the corner from their outlet, and they had the models that were photographed for the pictures discounted but otherwise brand new. Here it is set up normally, for dining (and Halloween):
For the gaming space upgrades, we chose the following:
- We already had a Quiver mat that we Kickstarted many years ago, which provides a nice playing space. For awhile, we stored the mat in a wrapping paper holder bag in the hall closet, but the last year we have just left it out on the table with the placemats on it and it’s been fine. We also have chargers on the place mats, but that’s because our cats suck.
- I made cheap dice trays out of Ikea Ribba 4×6 picture frames and green felt. We find we rarely drop other components on the floor thanks to the mat.
- I bought some card holders on Amazon for games that require large hands of cards with lots of abilities. When we need to, we use silicon cupcake liners to hold player tokens.
- I bought some cup holders on Amazon. I admit, these were more than I wanted to spend for cup holders, but the other plastic ones didn’t seem sturdy. We add cups to them when someone wants it to hold a glass bottle, since those can fall through.
- We weren’t able to find a workable cover for leaving out board games, but we rarely have occasion to leave a game set out. We also store any campaign or other games that are being played frequently in our new side table.
Here it is with a blank playing area:
And with accessories for 4 players:
Separate from the dining table, we added a sideboard which is about 90% game storage (including most of the aforementioned accessories). We wanted to cut costs for this, so we chose an Ikea Hemnes sideboard, which had the desired combination of drawers (with metal glides) and cabinets, and is mostly solid wood in case we desire to refinish it later. To make it fit in with our other decor a bit better, I upgraded the handles to CB2’s bone and brass pulls.
In our side board, we keep the following in drawers:
- Cup holders, cups, pens/pencils, notebooks, metal coins, dice
- Dice trays and card holders
- Baggies, bins, card sleeves, and desiccant packets for new games
Since most of our games are stored in the basement, we also have a cabinet in which we store games we recently or will be playing so we aren’t constantly trekking up and down the stairs (plus some crafting materials we use on the table and a tray with our dining table accessories like napkins and salt and pepper shakers).
And the last cabinet holds games we are playing repeatedly – Arkham Horror: The Card Game on top (plus the lint brush we use to clean the Quiver mat), and Gloomhaven and Too Many Bones below.