Tips for Choosing Dining Tables when you have a wheelchair or mobility issue

As you will know from this post and this post Mr WheelChicHome is disabled and wobbles about the house on crutches or sometimes in his wheelchair.  This is causing me an issue when looking for a table and chairs.  The table and chairs we’ve had in the kitchen have been with us for about eight or nine years and we’re after a new set which is a little more stable.  It’s not so easy to find a suitable set for us and I wanted to share some of the issues and concerns and ideas I have.

The current dining table has wobbly legs, (like the husband!) and no matter how much we tighten them – they wobble.  This is difficult for him because he uses the table to lean on to sit down or stand up and also if we need to move the table out from the wall when we have guests, we can’t just drag it as the legs move, so we have to try and lift it, which is quite difficult for him to help with. 

So I’m after a new set.  Also I’d like one more suitable for a kitchen diner, rather than a dining room.  I want something a little more casual as we don’t really do ‘formal dining’ (even though we have got a posh set of crockery which comes out about twice a year!).

I’ve noticed a few issues with some other dining sets recently that means we’re limited in our choice.  Let me explain…

(1)    Make sure you get the right type of legs or bases:

This Calia table from John Lewis is my favourite.  I love the rough top and the very strong industrial legs (no wobbling with that set, that’s for sure!) but it’s no good for our needs as Mr WCH usually sits on the end of the table, it’s the closest to microwave for his porridge in the mornings and it faces the TV (don’t judge us!) – and it’s just the easiest seat for him to take…

john-lewis

Photo Credit: John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com)

And spot the problem.  Yes – the footplate of the wheelchair and the front castors hit the base of the table legs so he can’t get close enough to the table to eat.  You wouldn’t think of this as an issue until you have a wheelchair. 

(We often have the same issues in a restaurant or pub with a certain type of table – he simply can’t get close enough in the chair as the footplate hits the feet of the table).

pub-stuff-co-uk

Photo Credit: Pub Stuff (www.pubstuff.co.uk)

So these types of tables are no good for us.  We need a table with 4 sturdy legs, seems rather obvious doesn’t it! 

(2)    Make sure you have the strength you need in the table

As he uses the table to lean on we need something with strength and that the legs are bolted on well.  The table legs for us also need to be strong enough to drag the table out from the wall without moving (oh I can’t wait for that day!). Legs such as this are what we need to look for – we saw this in John Lewis the other day and the legs are bolted into metal frame underneath and it’s extremely sturdy, this one is a real contender:

johnlewis2

Photo Credit: John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com)

(3)   Make sure the materials are suitable

A glass top is no good for us as he trips and falls a lot.  Whilst the tables are likely to be safety glass it’s still more of a risk for my liking.  Also as he uses the top of the table to lean on, I would be constantly cleaning it!

Also, something with sharp metal edges is also no good as we can’t risk his head landing on the edge of it.  It’s like toddler-proofing your home!  An oval table or one with soft edges would be great.

(4)    The chairs need to be easy to get in and out of

If you can’t walk very far or use a wheelchair but want to sit in a dining chair to eat, you need to be able to get to/from the chairs with ease.  So the dining chairs need to be sturdy and not easy to tip over.  So I’m trying to find chairs that aren’t as easy to tip over (last time he tipped over the chair it ended up with him going over the back of it followed by a trip to hospital wrapped in comedy head bandage and coming home with 30 stitches…)

So I’m investigating the stability of chairs that look like this:

leather_dining_chair

Photo Credit: Rockett St George (www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk)

This might be really good because the legs flare out slightly as they get closer to the floor, so makes it harder to tip backwards.  I did try this out at the Rockett St George Pop-up shop at Liberty of London last year and it’s very comfy and top of my list!

However – it might be helpful to have arms on the chair, so we might end up with something like this class Eames design where again, the legs flare out and makes it a little more stable…

healsPhoto Credit: Heals (www.heals.com)

 Last but not least,

(5)    Make sure the table is the right height

So when you’re in the wheelchair you don’t end up sitting with your nose in your dinner like granny on Christmas day and you’ve had to steal different height chairs from rooms around the house.  Wheelchair seats can be a slightly different height, so make sure you take the chair to the shop to try out the table for size.

I’ll be shopping for tables and chairs soon, so watch this space and I’ll share the final results!

Do you have any other tips for shopping for tables?

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Tips for Choosing Dining Tables when you have a wheelchair or mobility issue

  1. Great post which considers some of the challenges faced by wheelchair users, both in the home and when eating out. The traditional pub table is a particular menace to a wheelchair user!

    Like

  2. One issue I always faced as a teen, sitting opposite (or next to on a square table) my brother in his wheelchair was how far his feet and footplate jutted under the table. When sat in a wheelchair your lower body and the chair itself take up a different amount of space to someone sat in a chair – so I think it’s important to not only take the chair to the shop like you suggest, but also have the other family members sit down too to make sure everyone has enough room. Unless you and Mr. WCH enjoy playing footsie under the table 😉

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s