When we moved into our new house, we went from an apartment with a full dining room to an open kitchen with no formal dining room. Our hand-me-down table was worn out, and it was way too big for the new place (it took up so much space it was difficult to walk between rooms). With a baby on the way, we were looking for a new table and chairs with the following qualities:
1. Affordable! This seems obvious, but we really went out of our way on this one - we were willing to sacrifice a bit in terms of quality. Someday we'll get a nicer dining set, but we knew that we didn't want something that was so nice that we would be upset when our kid did something to it.
2. Small in size. We wanted something larger than a 2-person table and chairs, but were really looking for something that would fit well in our kitchen.
I flipped through the Ikea catalog, and found the Jokkmokk table and 4-chair set. We were happy with the dimensions, and at $129 it was definitely within our budget. We picked it up along with some cushions for the chairs, and brought it home.
Assembly was pretty easy. Ikea does a pretty good job at making sure assembly is not a pain, and it took me about 45 minutes to get everything together. The screws are visible on the outside of the chairs, although it doesn't look bad.
After three years, we're pretty happy. There are a few minor dings on the surface of the table, but we can tell you about the various incidents (most of which involve a 2-year-old and time out) that caused them. You have to look pretty closely in order to see them. There is also one chair that has very visible scrapes on the seat from a booster chair - when we first got the booster chair, we tried putting a towel underneath, but it would still move around. A chair cushion now covers this up.
I would recommend chair cushions for the seat bottoms. The cushions really make the chairs a lot more comfortable. We also use placemats, but this is more to contain messes, and not so much to prevent damage to the table.
I have to say that this table and chair set has been an excellent value for the money. I get compliments on it, and when I tell people it is from Ikea and the price, many are surprised. I wouldn't recommend it for someone who is looking for something really really nice, but if you've got kids and need something affordable, I would highly recommend checking it out!