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How To Choose Stool Height: Counter Vs Bar Height

Seating at your kitchen countertops is a casual way to enjoy the area that is both practical and stylish. Take a seat for conversation with friends and family, enjoy a morning cup of coffee, or simply sit and do some work while you’re cooking dinner.

Though it would be handy, unfortunately, there isn’t an industry standard for the heights of bar stools and countertops. That means that choosing the right stool height for your counter can be challenging, to say the least. So, how do you choose stool height?

Measurements are key, along with some other considerations you may want to think about before purchasing. Ultimately, you want seating that’s comfy and that looks good, without being too tall, too short, or too bulky for your space. 

What is a Counter Stool?

A counter stool is designed to provide something similar to restaurant seating, allowing you to sit behind a counter comfortably, without it being too high or too low. Nothing like banging your knees because the stool is the wrong height!

Counter stools are multi-purpose and can be used not only for counters, but also for high kitchen table tops, high dining tables, and more. So, counter stools need to be tall enough to allow people to reach the surface comfortably while sitting down, yet also provide ample leg space. 

Counter Height Countertops

A counter height space for dining increases the size of your workspace when the counter is not being used for serving. Wider counters are especially helpful to serve buffet meals or fancy spreads for a cocktail party. A continuous countertop makes the room appear larger and more spacious than it actually is. It’s also at a height that’s easy to access for adults and children alike. 

How to Choose Counter Stool Height

Normally, counter stools feature a height of anywhere between 24 to 27 inches. Mostly because a countertop’s height is typically around 36 to 39 inches from the floor. A stool that measures between 24 to 27 inches provides enough space between the counter and seat to fit your legs comfortably and make movement easy, while also putting you at the perfect height to utilize the counter without any weird reaching like you’ve got dinosaur arms.

Counter stools are measured from the floor to the seat. As a general rule of thumb, there should be a difference of about 10 inches between the underside of the counter and the counter stool seat. This is important to remember, especially if your counter height doesn’t fit with the dimensions we just mentioned.

What is a Bar Stool?

A bar stool is, simply put, a tall chair designed with footrests to provide support, both for chair stability and your feet and legs. Initially, bar stools were used exclusively at bars, hence the name. However, nowadays some people like to use bar stools at their kitchen counters, especially if they are on the higher side. Traditionally, bar stools feature a narrow width, with a tall frame to allow people to comfortably reach bar height. 

How to Choose Bar Stool Height?

The seat height––and width––of bar stools are determined by the height of the bar they’re paired with. However, the typical height for a bar stool seat is measured to be between 29 and 30 inches from the floor. This is designed in accordance with a typical bar height that ranges from 40 to 42 inches.

This gap of roughly 10 inches allows people to sit comfortably without trapping their knees between the counter and seat or causing themselves unnecessary pain. Similar to counter stools, bar stools are also measured from the floor to the seat. 

How to Determine Spacing for Counter and Bar Stools

Another important factor to consider before investing in stools is the gap between your stools and the counter––will they stay pushed against the counter or tucked up under?––plus the number of stools you want to place at your counter.

You need space between each of the stools to allow people to move their arms while eating or drinking, or getting on and off the stool. The ideal space for a stool that measures 16 to 18 inches wide is around 22 inches per stool. That means that the gap between two stools should be at least 6 inches.

For kitchen stools that measure 19 to 22 inches in width, they’ll require space of about 24 to 25 inches per stool. From this, you can deduce that the average gap required between stools will be 8 to 10 inches. For stool designs that feature arms, or swivel stools, you can reliably expect the gap to be increased by several inches. 

Types of Bar and Counter Stools

  • Leather Stools: These stools are low-maintenance and ideal for informal settings. They can be wiped clean very easily. They also require enough padding to support comfortable sitting, so you can endure them for a longer period of time.
  • Armless: These stools are a great option for both bars and counters. They offer easy and free access to the counter or bar, while taking up a minimum amount of space. However, they may not be very comfortable as there isn’t a lot of support on the sides. 
  • Backless: These stools are commonly used for both counters and bars, too. The biggest benefit of backless stools is that they can slide under the counter completely, freeing up space when they’re not in use. This makes them ideal for smaller kitchen and dining areas. However, they don’t provide any support and may not be good for sitting for longer periods of time. 
  • Swivel: These stools come with a rotating seat for convenience. Such stools allow people to move around freely, making communication and socializing super easy. They also make it easier to get on or off the stool.
  • Adjustable: These stools come with a hydraulic column, fixed with a lever. Touching the lever allows you to adjust the seat height of the stool. This is especially beneficial when your countertop height is taller or shorter than the typical counter, as well as when you’re seating a group of people with different heights, like adults and children all at the same countertop.
  • Upholstered: This term refers to the padding of your furniture. Upholstered stools are suitable for both bars and counters. Not only are they comfortable to sit on, they also offer a more sophisticated look that can be customized to suit your tastes. Microfiber is a great upholstery choice, since it wipes clean easily. 
  • Stools with Cushions: These are stools that feature a frame and separate cushions. They are certainly a convenient choice! Not only can you customize the cushions whenever and however you want, but you can also adjust the padding. This type of stool is also easy to maintain as well. That makes them great for kitchen counter stools, since the cushions can be replaced or washed separately if something is spilled on them.
  • Wooden Stools: These stools are a classic choice for bars. They’re easy to maintain and provide just enough support for sitting, but may not be comfortable for the long haul. However, they’re sturdy and easy on the eyes, so there’s that. The Inside Weather Sarno Collection is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a wooden stool.
  • Metal Stools: These kitchen stools feature a metal frame. They are mostly lightweight and offer more of a minimalistic yet classy vibe. You can add the cushion of your choice to these types of stools and match them up with the rest of your surroundings. Iron stools create a more classic look to your countertops, while chrome stools create more of a contemporary look.

At Inside Weather, our modern stools are sure to be a great addition to any kitchen or bar area. Shop now!

Looking for more fun and interesting ways to reinvigorate your kitchen? Explore our blog on “How to Decorate a Breakfast Bar” for some exciting ideas!