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Bar Stool Guide

If the layout of your kitchen allows, bar stools are a great addition for everyday eating and activities. Read our pro tips for choosing the right bar stools for your space.

Bar Stool Guide

Due to the growing popularity of open-plan kitchens—which are either open to the dining room, or have a kitchen table as well an island—bar stools have become more and more commonplace in the kitchen. And better yet, there are a lot of gorgeous bar stool options on the market that can really add to the style of the space. Read on for our pro tips on choosing the right stools for your kitchen.

Bar Stools vs. Counter Stools

Bar Stools vs. Counter Stools

If you’ve never owned kitchen stools before, you may not know that there are actually two different stool heights on the market: bar-height stools and counter-height stools. A bar stool is typically 29”-32” from floor to seat and is ideal for a 41” to 43” table surface. A counter stool is typically 23”-23” from floor to seat and is ideal for a 35” to 37” table surface. Measure your counter or kitchen island before you order and avoid returns.

Bar Stools vs. Counter Stools

Bar Stool Styles

Before you begin shopping for bar stools, decide whether you want your bar stools to have a back or not. You can find lots of stylish options in either format. Bar stools with a back tend to be more comfortable, but they also take up more visual space. Bar stools without a back have a slimmer profile, are great for small spaces, and can be tucked completely under your counter if you like.

In the world of bar stools, you also have upholstered and non upholstered stools to choose from. Upholstered stools are cushioned and tend to be more comfortable, with a more relaxed seat. If you find yourself eating most meals at your kitchen island, or doing work or project there, an upholstered bar stool will be more supportive. If you have children in the house, be sure to select one made with a leather or performance/acrylic fabric, so that you can wipe it clean easily.

When selecting your bar stools, consider the other materials you’re using in the room. If you have wooden kitchen or dining chairs, try a complementary, but not matching material, such as polished nickel or rattan. Mixing materials between your chairs and your bar stools will provide balance throughout the room. Don’t forget to consider the legs of your kitchen island, kitchen table, or dining table too—you don’t want your bar stools to clash but to offer visual balance.

If your home has a great room layout, where the kitchen counter flows easily into the living space, bar stools can have and especially big impact on the aesthetics of the space. Parisian bistro-style stools, made of woven acrylic strips, will give your kitchen or bar traditional flair, while chrome and leather stools can provide a cool, contemporary look. If you want something subtle and discreet, wooden bar stools with a ladder back are a classic, foolproof option.