How to Choose a Bar Stool
Start with dimensions.
As you begin your search, keep these bar stool dimensions in mind. Standard counter height is approximately 34”-36.” For this height, select seats that range from 23” to 27” high. On the other hand, a standard bar top is slightly higher than a counter, measuring 40” to 42” high. To sit comfortably at this level, the best bar stool height is between 28” and 33” tall. Remember, it’s best to leave roughly 10” to 13” of space between the seat and the underside of the counter. This gives guests and family members ample space to cross their legs.
Consider user-friendly features.
Though almost all are armless, counter and bar stools can have varying back heights which can alter the comfort and utility of the chair. Backless stools are the easiest to position, but provide the least support. High- or full-backed stools offer the most back support and comfort, but can't be tucked under the bar or counter when not in use. A happy medium is the low-back stool, which provides a small amount of support in the form of a very low seat back, which is also typically low enough to be tucked under a counter.
Also keep your eye out for options with other features, including swivel bar stools, which can rotate up to 360º around, height-adjustable stools, which can suit different purposes at different times, and stools with foot rests.
Choose thoughtful materials and silhouettes.
Bar stools are available in a variety of shapes and materials that convey vastly different styles. If your interiors skew mid-century modern, choose wooden bar stools crafted from oak, walnut, or black ash. Or opt for a velvet- or leather-covered seat atop wooden legs.
For a minimalist interior, consider see-through ghost stools or metal bar stools rendered in polished aluminum for a sleek, high-shine finish. Plastic bar stools play well with a range of interior design styles, from Bohemian-chic to contemporary. Select a molded plastic chair atop metal or wooden legs. Don’t be afraid to mix colors and materials for a playful yet sophisticated look.
For traditional interiors, opt for a wooden bar stool with a curved back and cane seat that evokes Parisian café furnishings. If comfort is a high priority, be sure to choose bar stools with padded seats. Or consider adding cushions to chairs that don’t feature upholstered seats. If you go with taller options, select a style with a footrest so that your feet don’t dangle uncomfortably. Once you’ve chosen well-designed pieces, the seats at your kitchen counter or bar just might become the best seats in the house.