September 27, 2021 Furniture, How To

Bar Stools Shopping Guide – Style, Type, Size, Material & More

Bar Stools Shopping Guide – Style, Type, Size, Material & More

Bar stools do much more for your home than just provide a place to sit. They can transform your kitchen island into a fun gathering spot for family and guests, or help create a modern breakfast bar for your family. Bar stools can be tucked away underneath a table for easy storage, or transform an area into a multi-functional space. They can also be that standout, welcoming piece of furniture that people gravitate towards when they enter your home.

Choosing the best bar stools for a space can be easier said than done. Not only are there thousands of options to choose from, but there are also different sizes, styles, types and materials.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the various aspects you should check off your list before making a decision.

Bar Stool Height

Sure, on their own most kitchen tables and counters have relatively standard dimensions, but kitchen islands, tables, desks, and other surfaces have vastly different heights. It would be a shame to find a bar stool you love, only to have it not fit properly underneath a table, kitchen counter or island.

Here are a few things to consider before choosing a bar stool height:

When you think about how you want to use your bar stools, you’ll decide that the next step is to measure the counter height where the bar stools will sit.

Bar stool dimensions

The height of typical bar stool dimensions is 71.12–83.82 centimetres high.

Counter height

To measure the correct height for your bar stool in relation to a countertop or table, follow these steps:

  1. Measure from the floor to the top of the counter, table, or bar where your stool will sit. Save this measurement.
  1. Decide how many centimetres you want between the underside of the countertop and your bar stool. It’s most common to allow 25–30cm between the bar stool seat and the underside of the countertop.
  1. Subtract the value you got in step 2 from the number in step 1. This new value is the height you want for your bar stools.

Bar height

The same measurement rules mentioned in the previous section apply to measure the height of bar stools for your bar counter. Some bar counters have a dedicated overhang to accommodate stools and others do not be sure to measure accordingly.

Adjustable bar stools

Adjustable bar stools typically come in the same standard heights as regular bar stools (71.12 – 83.82 centimetres) but offer more flexibility as they can be adjusted within a few centimetres or inches.

Adjustable bar stools are a great option if you want to be able to store your stool under a counter or bar, but also have the flexibility of adjusting the height to accommodate different people.

Tall bar stools

Sometimes custom countertops and bars have non-standard dimensions, which means standard height bar stools won’t fit properly. Tall bar stools or extra tall bar stools are made to accommodate higher countertops and bars, but you can also get leg extenders for some bar stools to make them taller if needed.

Measuring tall bar stools follows the same principle as regular bar stools. You want to ensure you have at least 25–30cm between the seat and the underside of the countertop.

Bar Stool Height Chart

The chart below is a quick cheat sheet that summarizes the height standards for different types of bar stools and the ideal countertop height to accommodate them. Adjustable stools come in different height configurations, so make sure you know the specific measurements you need (using the measurement steps above).

Bar stool type Seat height Countertop height
Extra tall 81.28 cm – 86.36 cm 114.3 cm – 121.92 cm
Regular bar 71.12 cm – 83.82 cm 101.6 cm – 106.68 cm
Regular counter 60.96 cm – 66.04 cm 88.9 cm – 91.44 cm
Regular dining 40.64 cm – 45.72 cm 71.12 cm – 76.2 cm
Adjustable May fall within these dimensions or more N/A

How to Choose the Right Bar Stools

Bar stools come in a wide variety of colours, types, materials, and styles. It can feel overwhelming trying to choose the right one for your home. For those of us who aren’t interior designers, being able to choose what colours go together might sound easy, but in reality, can be daunting.

But with a bit of research,  the next time you walk into a furniture store in Calgary or visit a website, you can feel confident choosing the right furniture for your home.

Remember these golden rules of interior design:

Popular Bar Stool Colours

Black bar stools

Black bar stools are extremely versatile and work with pretty much any decor. This reliable colour also tends to hide dirt much better than its lighter counterparts. But black bar stools don’t have to be boring. You can mix textures, patterns and materials to draw the eye just as much as any other furniture.

Black Bar Stool

Quadrato Barstool in black

Blue bar stools

Blue bar stools are a popular colour for retro designs, but can also be used to add a pop of colour. Blue and white are popular colour choices for modern or beach/nautical themed spaces, making blue bar stools a popular choice.

Blue Bar Stools

Blue chevron bar stools in a white kitchen. Source

White bar stools

Similar to black, white bar stools are extremely versatile. Most kitchens have white or cream finishes and counters, so white bar stools are a popular choice for kitchens. With an endless variety of textures, patterns, and materials, white bar stools can be very eye-catching.

White Bar Stools

Quadrato Barstool in white

Red bar stools

Red bar stools are a popular retro colour choice and can be used to add a pop of colour to a modern space. Red is traditionally a powerful colour and stands out against white, brown or grey.

Red Bar Stools

Henry Barstools by Trica

Bar Stool Types

There are many different types of bar stools. To choose the right seating, consider the height of the counter where the stools will sit, whether you want people to be able to sit on the stool in different directions (backless), and whether the stool will fit within the current decor.

Swivel bar stools

Swivel bar stools are a good choice for open concept living rooms and kitchens where entertainment, such as a television, is facing the opposite direction of where the stool sits. With a swivel bar stool, one can easily turn around and enjoy entertainment while seated.

Swivel Barstools

Nicholas Barstools by Trica

Modern bar stools

Modern bar stools often feature smooth, straightforward designs with clean, straight, geometric lines. Modern bar stools tend to be one colour, although a pattern can be used if it is simple and minimalistic.

Modern Bar Stools

ALLY Barstools by Trica

Industrial bar stools

Industrial bar stools incorporate historical urban and commercial styling, often with metal and wood, to recreate a sense of “bringing the city” into a space. In an industrial-styled home or office, there’s often concrete, brick, metal, and wood to highlight the urban or historical commercial feel. Industrial bar stools are designed to complement those materials.

Industrial Bar Stools

Industrial bar stools in a home. Source

Kitchen bar stools

When choosing kitchen bar stools, focus on durability as well as design. Since the kitchen is one of the most used places in a home, you’ll want the bar stools you choose can stand up to spills, but can also withstand increased wear and tear, and heavy use.

Kitchen Bar Stools

Kitchen Day Stool by Trica

Vintage/Retro bar stools

Retro bar stools add personality to a space. Retro furniture evokes nostalgic feelings from past eras, with specific features that make you instantly recognize the furniture as “retro”. As an example, 50’s style bar stools typically have a chrome base with circular bars and a distinct brightly-coloured vinyl seat.

Retro Bar Stools

Retro bar stools in a home. Source

Popular Bar Stool Materials

Bar stools come in different types of materials, with some of the most popular being wood, metal, chrome, and leather.

When choosing a bar stool material, be consistent. If you choose a metal bar stool with a leather seat, for example, does that fit with the rest of the furniture in the room? Does your sofa or kitchen table also have metal legs? Do you use leather or vinyl in other parts of the room? Choosing metal bar stools in a room that with primarily wooden furniture might look off, so keep it consistent and you should be good to go.

Wood

Wooden bar stools are a staple bar stool design that works with any style motif, whether it be modern, contemporary, or otherwise. In terms of material, wooden bar stools are durable and fit within low to high price ranges, making them a very popular choice.

Wood Bar Stool

Lucia Counter Stool by Colibri

Metal

Metal bar stools are great for industrial and retro-styled areas but are versatile in that they can be used in pretty much any type of decor.

Metal Bar Stools

Mia Counter Stool by Trica

Chrome

You’ll likely see chrome bar stools in a retro-styled home, restaurant, or other commercial space. Chrome is also occasionally used in industrial interior designs.

Leather

Leather bar stools provide a variety of different looks that can fit with pretty much any decor style. They are also long-lasting and easy to wipe down after a meal. Some of the leather options can be offered in faux leather or vinyl, which also impacts the price.

Bar Stool Style Tips for your Kitchen

Kitchens are one of the most used spaces in a home. It's important that the stools you choose are not only functional but also look amazing with the rest of the decor.

If you’re not a style guru, don’t worry. When you’re thinking about how to arrange furniture in your home, here’s a few questions to ask yourself before you start looking on Pinterest or making bar stool mood boards.

  1. Is your kitchen decor modern, contemporary or traditional?

You want to make sure that you are choosing pieces that fit within the style of the room. If you have a modern kitchen, you likely want to choose modern bar stools with a clean, simple design. If your kitchen is more of a futuristic contemporary style, then you’ll likely want to play more with modern bar stools that reflect the latest colour and design trends.

Blue Barstools in Modern Kitchen

Blue bar stools in a contemporary kitchen. Source

  1. Should your bar stools blend or complement the furnishings in adjacent rooms?

Bar stools can be a subtle way to complement furnishings in adjacent rooms, by matching colours, fabric, or materials (like wood or metal). If you have an open concept kitchen or living room, complementary colours and fabrics are even more of a must.

Wood Bar Stools in Open Concept Kitchen

An open concept kitchen and living room with wooden bar stools. Source

  1. Where are you using your bar stools?

Bar stools come in many different heights, so they can be used at the kitchen table, kitchen island, or against or underneath any surface in your kitchen, like the corner of a countertop. When you’re considering where to place your kitchen bar stools, think of how the traffic will move in your kitchen; do you want to store your bar stools underneath your kitchen island, or will they rest up against a surface?

Bar Stools in Kitchen Island

Industrial bar stools that fit under a kitchen island. Source

Bar Stool Style Tips for Entertaining

Next to the kitchen and the bedroom, the living room or dining room is a much-loved space in a home. Living rooms are comfortable areas for relaxing, watching television, or even as an office space. Bar stools can be perfect additions for any living room space: they fit anywhere and serve as functional yet elegant furniture to enhance any living room.

Are you sitting in your living room? Good. Here are some questions to ask yourself before choosing living room bar stools:

  1. Will the bar stools serve as the main or secondary seating option?

Dining room furniture typically consists of couches and/or recliners, but sometimes those aren’t the main seating areas. As an example, perhaps you use your living room primarily as an office space, or entertainment area where the bar stools are part of a bar area. If the bar stools are going to serve as main seating options, you’ll want to ensure they’re comfortable and properly incorporated into the space as seating.

Fabric Bar Stools

Fabric bar stools at a home bar area in a living room. Source

  1. Will the bar stools be used as accent pieces?

Bar stools are multifunctional. They can be used in the living room as side tables when not in use. If your bar stools are going to be primarily side tables and accent pieces, then choose stools that work with the colours, fabrics and other furniture in the room.

Black Bar Stool

A black bar stool is used as a side table next to a couch in a living room. Source

  1. Are the living room and open kitchen concepts connected?

Open concept kitchens and living rooms are common, and bar stools are a great piece of furniture to tie the two rooms together (aside from the rug, of course).

Bar stools act as transitional seating between rooms, creating the illusion of a line between these two areas while still providing function. Depending on your layout, use swivel bar stools to allow people to shift and engage between the rooms.

Industrial Open Concept

Open concept kitchen and living room with industrial bar stools. Source

Using Bar Stools in your Home

Bar stools are functional pieces of furniture that add personality, save space, and provide transitional seating for open concept areas. The wide variety of types, colours, and materials provides countless options for styling your home, regardless of whether your home is traditional, contemporary, or modern.

Some key takeaways from this article:

Home Evolution provides bar stool seating in the latest on-trend colours and materials to fit any space and style of home. View our seating options today!

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