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3 Keys to Finding a Bar Stool

Whether you are looking for seating for your kitchen counter or island, home bar or patio, a bar stool is a great option. Bar stools come in a variety of heights and styles for every occasion, so it is important to look into the details to determine which one will best fit your lifestyle.


1. How High Should My Bar Stool Be?

While deciding exactly how to buy a bar stool, the first thing you need to keep in mind is the height. If your bar stool is the wrong height, you will not be able to sit comfortably at your bar or table. You should have around 11 inches between the seat height and the counter height.


                                                  Bar Height Stools

Bar Height Stool

The most common type of bar stool is bar height. Bar height stools are usually between 27-31" in height. You will usually see this type of stool in a bar or diner. If you have a home bar or high counter, you should consider a bar height stool. 

Bar Height Stool Measuring Guide

Table Height: Seat Height:
38" 27"
39" 28"
40" 29"
41" 30"
42" 31"

                                                                   (Pictured: American Heritage Billiards Traditional Bar Stool)


Counter Height Stool

Counter Height Stools

Counter height bar stools are between 23-26" in height, and are usually used with high tables or lower counters. You will normally see counter bar stools in more casual settings. If you plan on putting kitchen bar stools around an island, this height range is quite common. 

Counter Height Stool Measuring Guide:

Table Height: Seat Height:
34" 23"
35" 24"
36" 25"
37" 26"

                                                                  (Pictured: Hillsdale Backless Counter Stool)

Extra Tall Bar Stool


Extra Tall Bar Stools

If you are looking for something taller than a bar height stool, go with extra tall. An extra tall bar stool will start at a 32" seat height, and is typically found in more modern homes.

This is a good choice if you have an extra tall bar or pub table, or you have a counter with more height. Extra tall bar stools draw more attention to the room, so make sure you choose a style that well represents the look you are going for.

(Pictured: American Heritage Billiards Traditional Tall Bar Stool)


Adjustable Height Bar Stool 


Adjustable Height Bar Stools

If you want the option to set your bar stool to different heights, an adjustable height stool is the best choice. This is also great for helping children easily reach the table. A gas-lift mechanism allows you to adjust the bar stool height to allow you to sit at a bar or table comfortably.

Height adjustment features are mostly found in more contemporary bar stools since the gas lift is normally made of steel, but you can also find traditional and mission style adjustable bar stools. Most adjustable height bar stools have footrests that adjust with the height.

                                                            (Pictured: Powell Black Faux Leather / Chrome Thin Seat Adjustable Height Bar Stool)


2. How Will My Bar Stool Be Used?

Determine how you plan on using your bar stools, including how frequently they will be used. You will find different features on each type of bar stool, and it is important to make your choice based on convenience. Look at details like the height of the footrest - will you and your guests be able to comfortably use the footrest when sitting for a long time?

Swivel Barstool


Swivel Bar Stools

Will your bar stool be used in a smaller space? You may want to consider a swivel stool, which will make it easier to get in and out of your seat. It smoothly rotates all the way around, allowing you to comfortably face any direction.

Some swivel bar stools have a memory return feature, where the seat will rotate itself back to 0 degrees when it is not in use.

(Pictured: Pulaski 30" Swivel Barstool)


Upholstered Barstool

Upholstered Bar Stools

An upholstered bar stool can give you the perfect combination of style and comfort. There are many colors and patterns to choose from. The upholstery material can cover just the seat, or both the seat and back.

Will children be sitting at these bar stools for an afterschool snack? You may want to choose a material that will put up well with stains. Polyester, microfiber and vinyl are among the easiest materials to clean, and can usually be cared for with just a damp cloth. Leather bar stools look nice, but they are more difficult to clean - you usually will have to have them cleaned professionally.

(Pictured: Powell Hamilton Counter Stool)


3. What's My Style?


Barstool Styles

You can use a bar stool in any style home - there are some with arms, without arms, without backs and with saddle seats. Backless bar stools will give you the classic look, but may not be ideal if you are looking to use your stools for long family dinners. If you are buying breakfast bar stools, the backless design is great for fitting right under the counter to save space. Barstools with arms are comfortable, but take up more space than barstools without arms. This could be a problem if you need to fit a certain amount of stools in one area, so make sure you take that into consideration when planning your setup. If you only plan on taking your bar stools out for special occasions, you can look into folding bar stools.

When choosing bar stool styles, you must also put a lot of thought in the type of room they will go into. Wooden bar stools can give a more traditional or rustic look, while metal bar stools look sleek in contemporary homes. Modern bar stools often come in neutral or bold colors, like black, red or white. Saddle bar stools are usually found in more casual and rustic rooms. Wicker bar stools will look nice in a room with a more casual, coastal style.

If you are looking for outdoor bar stools, make sure the material will be durable enough in all weather conditions. You can find some that are made with all-weather wicker and are resistant to damage from rain or extreme sun exposure.

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