Seeking advice: ideal height of a low dining table

TL;DR: I’m thinking about buying a low dining table to replace our “Western” table - it’s not fully decided yet, and it’s not so easy to get one. What would be the best height?

I have a new first world problem:
I live with my husband and child (almost 5). We have been somewhat unhappy with our dining table for a while - it’s an IKEA table that would be quite practical for a one-person-household, because it’s foldable, but when several people use it together, there’s always something in the way of your legs. There’s especially this problem that we can’t get our son’s step chair close enough to the table without placing it in some weird angle. (My son is shorter than other kids due to a form of dwarfism, so he will still need this chair for a while.)

Well, we’ve been a bit lazy about tackling this problem, and when we mentionened lately that we should buy a new table, one of us said jokingly, we could as well buy a low table like those used in Japan. And our son was like, yay, that’s a good idea! So, that was the first time we started seriously considering it.

And actually, the more I think about it, the more I like this idea. We would keep the step chair for our son’s desk later (in one or two years or so), and give away the other chairs. There would be more open space in the living room, and we wouldn’t have to put away the chairs every time before letting the vacuum robot clean there. Also, it would be good for my back to change sitting positions more often, and I already spend enough time of the day sitting in a chair at my desk. Same is true for my husband, even though he doesn’t have back problems at the moment.
Or are there some disadvantages I’m not seeing right now?

However, we live in Germany, and it’s apparently not so easy to get a table like that. (Why can’t this be a trend? :roll_eyes: :sweat_smile:) IKEA: nope. Places specialized on Japanese furniture: they only have tables in coffee-table-size, no dining tables. Amazon: nope, not really; also I hate Amazon. Etsy: Yes, there’s this one (ONE!) seller from China who builds low tables in the right size, ships to Germany for a good price, and also has good reviews. So that would be it then, I guess.

We can choose a height there - 25, 30, 35, 40, or 50 cm.
I’m not sure what would be best - does anyone have some experience with that? I assume it should be either 35 or 40 cm for us? Is there something like “the” right height for such a table?
My husband and I are relatively tall, by the way, Maybe I’ll have all of us sit down on the floor later to try out what 35 or 40 cm would mean. :wink:

(edit: Or is 35 cm actually too high?? I don’t find good answers on the internet. :frowning: )


You can always just saw off the legs from a standard table…


The ideal height of a low dining table depends on the chair you want to sit on.
If this perhaps is for the playing of go the thickness of the go board should also taken into consideration.
And if you are in the habit of placing a cushion in your chair this also …

How about a table with customisable legs?

If it’s a Japanese low table, you should realise that you’re supposed to be sitting (or lying) on the ground. As a note of warning, these tables usually stand in tatami rooms, where the floor is rather soft, so you should definitely buy some pillows to sit on if your floor isn’t soft.

However, even in tatami rooms or with pillows, I personally either get pain in my ankles, my knees or my lower back when sitting on the ground for extended periods of time, and a lot faster than when I sit in a chair. It gets a little better with a zaisu, which is a cushion chair without legs against which you can lean your back, but then I’m not very flexible and can’t really properly sit upright without bending my legs (and that’s not possible, since there’s the ground preventing that)

The best reason I can think of to buy one, is when they come with a heater in the middle (it’s called a kotatsu) and a blanket trapping the warmness under it. That’s very cozy in winter.

I could measure the floor table height here tomorrow (but there’s people sleeping there right now). I’m of average Dutch height, which is close to gigantic in Japan, but it doesn’t feel like it’s too low (perhaps a little bit)


Yes, I’m planning to buy some extra pillows, too.

This will probably be the same for us (at least at first?). At least we don’t need to follow Japanese etiquette about sitting positions or so. :sweat_smile: So I hope that it will still force us to be in other positions than usually, and to change positions more often. It’s just too bad that we can’t try it out for a while and decide then. :wink:

That would be great, thanks!

Good to know! My husband is of average male German height (1.80 m) and I’m a bit taller than average female height (1.73 m). After “trying it out” with my son today, I think it should be either 30 or 35 cm.

Haven’t seen one.

Yeeees, that’s true, but… I need to buy that table first (second hand, but still), then need to rent a car in order to get it home, and then saw off the legs very unprofessionally, because I don’t know anyone with a wood workshop who could help, and if I do it under inadequate circumstances at home, the cuts will definitely not be even, and not even at the same length. :sweat_smile: (and no, my husband can not to it for me, because then it will be even worse than if I do it myself :stuck_out_tongue: )

What we decided to do now is that, after deciding about a height, we’ll ask carpentries nearby for estimates for building such a table. Maybe it won’t be that expensive after all, and we don’t need to have a table transported here from China. And if it is too expensive, I’ll think again about buying a second hand table and pay one of the carpentries for sawing off the legs…


I’m sure that there are plenty of capable woodworkers in Germany that could make such a thing. Perhaps, you could also inquire with them about adding to the order a cuckoo clock.


Maybe try the pillow first, to check if you are able to sit for an extended period of time?


If you don’t enjoy sitting on pillows on the floor during the day, eg to watch TV, to play GO, to draw, to talk on the phone, to work on your laptop etc, the low table will probably become a burden.
I suggest finding one of those cheap plastic tables, the type they use at kindergartens, which are about the height you need (I think). See if you can manage for a few weeks without pain, frustration and cursing. Then, if it works for your family, you can buy a real table, good quality.
This way, you will also have enough time to research carpentries or practice sawing off legs.
(table legs!)


Sadly packs away his bonesaw


Nobody here does either, people sit however they want. But if your feet are flexible, it’s not even that uncomfortable (sadly my feet aren’t, hence the pain in the ankles)

The table is about 35cm, and it is quite a good height for me. You can probably get away with 30cm even, but it’s easier to find a 5cm thick pillow to sit on (and probably more comfortable as well, win-win).

Do you have any idea how expensive capable German woodworkers are? :stuck_out_tongue:


Well, actually, I think I am aware, at least to some degree, so much as would naturally come about from having extensively researched into the acquisition of a cuckoo clock.


Looking for a low table? Look no further

Your kid will sit at it just fine and for yourself, well, parents don’t have time to sit while they eat anyway, unless eating at a desk doing work.

More realistically… are you a fan of IKEA or not? I find that certain items are good while others not so much. I have their Lisabo desk and coffee table and I like it. These tables are a bit taller than normal for a coffee table. Some people complain about it actually. But the taller height is why I recommend it to you. They have a square version and a rectangle version.


I actually ended up swapping the legs of the lisabo coffee table with the legs of the lisabo desk since the coffee table is a bit deeper.

If you couldnt guess, my advice is to avoid custom work if at all possible. Way too expensive.

1 Like

The typical Geman cuckoo clock! Can you guess how many people I know who own one?






You know exactly one, and that’s yebellz. :stuck_out_tongue:


That’s just not what I want. The coffee table legs are way too high, while the tabletop is too small for a dining table. And that’s exactly the problem I have whenever I look for other possible solutions.

The only sensible “cheap” suggestion so far, Imho, is what Gia said. Getting a second-hand-table and letting a woodworker (or maybe a DIY market) saw the legs off.


You got it right and even answered the bonus question before I even posted it.


I do not have a solution for the Japanese style table per se, but I do have a possible solution for a family that wants to adjust the height of the table as a kid grows up:

Height adjustable tables/desks. I didn’t know they were a thing, but my best friend bought one - which made me aware of them - and he is very happy with it. Might be worth having it in mind. Good luck! :slight_smile:

1 Like

You might check your local school supply store for tables like these:

Maybe small for a dining table, but they are adjustable, so you could experiment with various heights.