The best way to achieve this is with a dining table that can grow. A decent extending table is hard to find, but I've done the searching for you. Here is my top ten:
Console tables that morph into dining tables are becoming popular at the top end of the market and I don't think it will be long until they start turning up in stores such as Ikea and Habitat. Laura Ashley does one that extends to seat six. This Golia Console sits neatly against the wall and when needed, its legs telescope out so that several more leaves can be added and at least ten people can sit around it.
Steuart Padwick's Double Cross table can be pushed against the wall as a console table or desk or used as a breakfast bar and then opened out to feed a crowd.
This slim-legged fifties-style dining table extends from 180cm to 230cm and when they're not needed the leaves can be hidden within the table top.
Round tables can grow too. The three leaves in the Skovby Oslo SM32 table are stored in its central column and there are no legs to get in the way of guests. It's also available in six wood veneer finishes.
If you're looking to add an urban edge to your room, with its black powder-coated pedestal base and stone-finished glass-mounted table top, the Habufa Rodez table will do just that. And, as it has no legs at the edge, you can cram more people around it too.
Not only can this table grow, it also has a clever storage cubby, sold separately, which is ideal for storing condiments and cutlery. The matching stools and bench come with integral drawers too.
This smart black lacquered table will never date and it comes in two sizes: the largest will extend to feed fourteen, the slightly smaller one will seat up to ten.
With its iron frame and walnut veneered top, this elegant table will add a touch of understated luxury to your living space and it looks lovely in both its incarnations.
This little shabby chic table grows on and on, from 120cm to a whopping 320cm. It will work for a romantic dinner and when you're entertaining a crowd.
This white-washed Mango wood table has a striking parquet-pattern effect top. It extends from 140cm to 220cm and says it can go from seating four to six people, but, with good friends, you shouldn't have trouble squeezing at least eight around it.