Ideas + Inspiration

FAQs: How to Choose the Perfect Bar and Counter Stool Height

There’s nothing more annoying than sitting on a stool that’s the wrong height. Too short, and you feel like a Hobbit, too high and you’re knocking your knees. Besides being super uncomfortable, a too short, or too tall stool is not the greatest look. To help navigate the modern stools department for bar and counter stools, here’s a little how-to–FAQ-style–to help you pick the right stool for your space.

Q: What’s the difference between counter stools and barstools?

A: For the most part, there really isn’t much of a difference. Chances are, you will be able to find the same types of counter stools and barstools to fit whatever type of style of dining room, kitchen, bar or outdoor bar you are aiming for. The major difference comes down to seat height.

Modern bar stool ideas.
Bertoia Barstool with Seat Cushion by Knoll

Q: What’s the standard counter height and counter stool height?

A: Counter heights and their stools are typically lower than bar stools, but not that low! The standard counter height is 34-39 inches high, so a counter stool should have a seat height 24-29 inches tall. This allows the average-sized person to have plenty of space between their legs and the counter without having to sit awkwardly low. The Cherner Stool is a great example of the perfect counter stool height. At 25 inches, it can slip underneath the kitchen counter while leaving a little over 10 inches of legroom.

Modern wooden counter stool ideas.
Cherner Stool by Cherner Chair Company

Q: What’s the standard bar height and bar stool height?

The standard bar height is a little different, averaging around 40-46 inches from the ground. To compensate for this slightly taller type of table, you should pick a bar stool with a seat height that’s 30-36 inches. Though the Nerd Barstool is available in both counter and bar stools heights, the bar stool has a seat height at 29.5 inches tall.

Modern colorful bar stool ideas.
Nerd Barstool by Muuto

Q: What’s the ideal distance between a stool and countertop or bar table?

While you can pick your counter and bar stools based on averages, it’s always better to go the extra mile and draw your own measurements. So, start by measuring your bar or counter from floor to the underneath of the bar top. And it never hurts to measure twice, just to be as accurate as possible.

After you’ve measured, you can pick the right stool height by subtracting 10 inches from your counter height. Doing this will give you ample room from the seat of the stool to the bottom of the countertop. To get the perfect stool height, measure from the floor to the seat.

ghost bar and counter stools
Victoria Ghost Chair Set of 2 from Kartell

Q: What about tall and small guests?

Measuring your stools in relation to your table is one step to making sure anyone can comfortably sit at your counter or bar table. But for true versatility, you might want to go for an adjustable stool such as the L’Eau Lift Stool. Adjustable modern stools are also a great option for growing children who may need a higher seat to start.

Adjustable stools are also great for using in multiple areas. The Giro Swivel Stool is great to go from counter to table to desk, all with a twist of its adjustable seat.

Wire bar stool ideas.
Lucy Counter Stool by Bend Goods

Q: How do I determine how many stools I should add to my space?

Knowing the height of your barstools is only half the battle. Once you have the ideal height for your setup, you’ll need to figure out how many stools will fit. Too many and you’ll overcrowd your counter, too few and you’ll be left with a sparse and bare space.

People should be able to get in and out of their seats with ease and eat and drink without bumping elbows. To ensure that, you’ll want each stool to sit about 26-30 inches apart; that’s measuring from the center of one stool to the next. There should be about 14 inches left in-between the last stool and the wall. Don’t want to crowd the last person, after all.

Hauteville Counter Chair by Lyon Beton

Q: What types of stool styles are there to choose from?

Once you’ve measured, twice that is, you’re ready to pick a stool. So, what can you choose from? You’ll find that there are plenty of modern stools to go with both your decor and your needs when it comes to designing your space. For example, the iconic shape of the Eames® Molded Fiberglass Stool works well in a mid-century modern kitchen.

But don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Modern stools are a great way to mix up your styles by bringing in something unexpected. If you’re going to be sitting for a longer period of time, then be sure to choose a stool that has a back for a more comfortable seat, like the mix of traditional and modern style of the One More Stool. Bring in a different texture, like the oversized cork seat on the Bouchon Stool from Domitalia. The backless stool helps to keep things casual.

modern Bouchon cork stool
Bouchon Stool by Domitalia

Or try something light and airy, like the open wire Bertoia Barstool or Hot Mesh Bar Stool from Blu Dot. This chair is a great option for smaller spaces as it keeps things open with its armless design.

For some extra bar stool ideas, check out these Top 10 Bar StoolsHave a question about what bar or counter stool height is right for your particular home? Or do you have a favorite counter stool that needs mentioning? Leave a comment below.

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