Bar Stool Buying Guide

Posted In Knowledge - 10/17/2017

Whether pulled up to a counter spot for a casual place to eat, at an in-home game room bar or paired with a bar height table; bar stools have become an important part of many homes. Finding the best match for your needs is as easy as evaluating your needs and considering the various bar stool options.


While the seat of a standard chair is about 18 inches off of the floor, stools are offered in two different heights: counter height and bar height.

  • Counter height stools are designed to provide a comfortable seat at the kitchen counter. Counters are about 36 inches off of the floor, making a stool with a seat at about 24 inches the perfect pairing. These stools are ideal for counter height tables as well
  • Bar stools are designed for comfortable seating at a bar height table or bar. The seats on these pieces are approximately 30 inches above the floor, providing flawless accommodations for a 42 inch tall bar or table.
  • Adjustable height bar stools offer flexibility and custom fit. Some adjustable bar stools will adjust up or down by just a few inches to provide personalized comfort; however, others are available that will adjust from bar height to counter height, or from counter height to standard chair height for versatility in your home.

Width and Spacing

When deciding how far apart to space bar stools, consider the size of the seat, whether it swivels and if it features arms. Smaller seats without arms can be comfortably placed closer together leaving about 6 inches of space between each seat. Larger seats, swiveling seats and seats with arms need extra space for maneuvering, plan for about 10 inches of space between each of these stools.

Seat and Back Style

  • Backless bar stools are a versatile choice when space is tight. Without arms or backs, they can slide completely under the table, counter or bar at which they sit to tuck completely out of the way. This can be very handy in a busy area or room that serves multiple purposes. Additionally, they are easy sit down on from any angle, requiring less easement space between each stool for maneuvering. Backless stools are available with wood seats, metal seats or upholstered seats; and some offer swivel capabilities. Saddle seat bar stools are backless stools commonly constructed from wood with a distinctive contoured seat

  • Bar stools with backs include styles with low back or full back and come with or without arms. With backs to lean against, these stools are more comfortable to sit in for long periods of time; however, you lose some of the space-saving benefits of a stool without a back.

Finish and Features

Most bar stools and counter height stools are built upon wood or metal frames and legs. The seats and backs can be crafted from the same material as the base or they can be padded and upholstered in fabric or leather, with some bar stools offering a combination of multiple materials. As with other furnishings, enhancements like tufting, nailhead trim, carved detailing or scrolled metal embellishments can elevate the stool design. Common wood stains include walnut or cherry and popular metal finishes include polished chrome, copper or pewter.

Additional features include swivel seats. This popular bar stool option can be found in virtually every style.

When shopping for stools, be sure to have a seat to check for comfort. Pay close attention to the foot rest and stretchers, these important additions offer a comfortable place to rest your feet on these elevated seats.

Decor Style

Bar stools are available in any style you might be looking for to complement or accent your interior decor, from contemporary to traditional and from transitional to industrial. And don’t limit yourself to indoor options; outdoor bar stools have become a popular choice for outdoor living and entertaining; with many designs that are stylish and versatile enough for both indoor and outdoor use.

Not sure how to characterize your decor preference? Browse our shop by style section.

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Read our related articles on Dining Chair Heights and Dining Room Table Heights.