How to Pick the Right Counter Stools and Bar Stools

counter stools and bar stools
counter stools and bar stools

Sales of counter stools and bar stools are on the rise due to the changing trends in interior design.

Breakfast counters, high tables, and home bars add the perfect blend of function and beauty to modern homes.

Choosing the right stool for your home can be a challenge because there are so many elements to consider. We’ve created a guide to make the process way more fun than daunting.

Deciding the Right Dimensions

bar stool counter stool height

The main difference between bar stools and counter stools is the height.

Counter stools are typically between 22 – 28 in high, while standard bar stools are between 28 – 32 in.

What you need will depend on the height of your counter or bar.

Choosing the Right Height

bar stool counter height

The wrong height can mean squished thighs or make you feel like a hobbit in a giant’s world. Stools that are the wrong size for their space aren’t just uncomfortable; they look out of place too.

Measure from the floor to the underside of the countertop where you plan to use the stools. The general rule is to subtract 10 in from that measurement to get the proper seat height.

Consider your own personal preference as well; if you’re a taller person, you may prefer more distance between the countertop and seat for example.

Other Dimensions to Consider

stool distance

Avoid putting too many seats at your bar or counter and overcrowding the space. You want at least 6 in between the stools so everyone has enough elbow room and space to get on and off the seat.

Counter overhang is what gives you space under the counter for your legs. If the overhang is narrow, then you’ll likely want to avoid large bar stools or counter stools that have a lot of depth.

The height of the footrest is important too, especially for shorter people. Legs hanging can be uncomfortable after long periods, so many sure everyone can reach the footrest.

Choosing the Right Function for Your Needs

family eating barstools

Bar stools and counter stools come in a huge range of styles with various functions.

When deciding which type is most suitable for you, ask yourself what role it will play in your daily life.

Will you be using them for long periods of time?

You’ll likely want to go for a more comfortable option such as an upholstered stool with a full back.

Do you have kids?

If so, a swivel stool will likely be a fun yet distracting option.

It can be overwhelming to decide what features will suit your needs the best, so here’s a breakdown of the more common options.


swivel bar stool

Swivel stools are a fun option and a great choice for entertaining. However, they tend to be on the heavier side and may not be the best option for kids.


backless counter stool

Backless stools are the most common and traditional option. They can help save on space, however, they usually aren’t the most comfortable choice for long periods.


adjustable bar stool

If you have kids around or a variety of heights in your home, adjustable bar stools or counter stools are a great option. They adjust quickly and ensure everyone can sit at a comfortable height.


upholstered bar stool

Upholstered stools are the most comfortable option and definitely one you want to consider if you’ll be using your stools on a regular basis.

Stools with Arms

unfinished stool with arms

These are another great option if comfort is your priority. Arms add stability to the stool and let you sit in more comfortable positions. However, they are usually wider than armless options which may reduce the number of stools you’ll have room for.

Picking the Best Design for Your Home

kitchen stools

Once you’ve decided on the size and function, it’s time to decide how you want your bar stool or counter stool to look. They come in a huge range of styles so you’ll have no problem finding something that suits your personal taste and the design of your home.

Here are some things to look for that will help you narrow down your choices if you’re feeling a bit unsure.


counter stool with arms

Playing with texture is an excellent way to add contrast to your space. Breaking up the monotony of smooth surfaces, especially in kitchens, will add more depth and interest to the room.

Bar stools and counter stools can be found in rattan or upholstered in a variety of materials.


minimalist stool

If minimalism is part of your aesthetic, it’s easy to find stylish yet unobtrusive options. A backless stool will allow you to push them under the counter when not in use and leave as much floor space open as possible.


If you redecorate fairly often, you may want to consider a neutral color that will match the room no matter what you paint it.

neutral bar stools

However, if you’re looking for a way to add contrast, go with a stool that will really pop.

blue counter stool

Avoid the stool blending in with the background by picking a color that’s different from your bar or kitchen island.


The right material can completely change the feel of your home. Metal, high-polish stools add an industrial and trendy aesthetic to any modern design.

industrial counter chair

If you’re looking for more warmth and movement in the room, you might want to consider stools made from real wood.

wood bar stool

Wood stools can also be bought unfinished so you can add your personal touch.

To add more of a casual, cozy feel, take a look at wicker bar stools and counter stools.

Scroll to Top