Bar Stool Vs. Counter Stool Buying Guide

Photo Features: Costa Counter Stool

If you’re looking for casual seating for your dining space, eat-in kitchen, or even a hangout room, bar stools are a great choice. These tall chairs come in a huge range of sizes and designs, but there’s a difference between these stools and counter stools. If you’re not sure which option is right for you, we’ve developed this handy bar stool buying guide to help make the process easier. Visit Meadow Blue today and get inspired by browsing our latest selection of counter stools and bar stools for sale to elevate any part of your home. Here’s some more information about these two different types of chairs, so you can decide which option is right for you.

Bar Stool vs. Counter Stool: What’s the Difference?

Photo Features: Axl Bar & Counter Stool
The most important differentiator between these types of seating is the height of each. In order to determine which one you’ll need, start by measuring the height of your bar, pub table, or kitchen counter or island. It’s very important to note that the name bar or counter stool refers to the size of the chair and that these two terms are not interchangeable. Most counter-height seating is made to pair with counters or kitchen islands, which are approximately 35 to 37 inches high, on average. This means that your counter height bar stools should typically be between 23 and 27 inches high. On the other hand, bar stools are taller and are designed to work with a traditional bar or pub table. How tall are bar stools? They tend to have a height that averages between 41 and 43 inches high. Make sure when you buy bar stools, that they measure in at between 28 to 33 inches high to match. Most bar-height counters found in kitchens typically have a raised section which creates two different heights. When you think about how to measure for bar stools, make sure you measure from the highest section of the counter or the table where you plan to place your new seating.

How to Measure for Bar Stools

Photo Features: King Bar & Counter Stool

In order for your furniture to work, you’ll need to get the correct measurements for a perfect fit. Start by measuring where the top of the seat will be up to the bottom of the table or counter. Keep in mind that there should be a minimum of 10 inches between the top of the seat and the bottom of the counter for adequate clearance. Double check to ensure that this measurement is no more than 15 inches or else it will be too large. A good amount of clearance provides you and your guests with plenty of legroom while you relax, enjoy food and drink, or hang out with good conversations. Without enough room between the seat and the counter, your legs won’t fit comfortably underneath. Write down the height of your counter or bar height table, then use it as a guide when you get the dimensions for either of your counter stools or bar stools.

Bar Stool Buying Guide: Backs vs. Backless Designs

Photo Features: Tatum Bar & Counter Stool
Of course, the measurement of your seating is crucial to determining whether you need bar stools or counter stools. However, a variety of features will also influence which style of furniture you select. Most bar stools are backless to provide them with a casual, laid-back look. It also makes it much easier to tuck the stools under the table or bar when they’re’ not in use. On the other hand, bar stools with backs offer a lot more support, and they’ll make hanging out a lot more comfortable for everyone. Look for bar or counter stools with backs that include cushioning and upholstery for an even more comfortable moment.
Photo Features: Trevi Counter Stool

Candelabra Home makes a beautiful assortment of stools for your modern abode. The brand’s Hart Velvet Bar and Counter Stool boast a sleek and contemporary silhouette enlivened with soft, plush velvet fabric and fire-retardant foam cushions. The sophisticated cutout design on the back gives these stools breathability and a decidedly modern touch. Fine details like hand-applied silver nailheads give these counter height bar stools a bespoke, finely crafted touch. Another great option from Candelabra Home is the ultra-sleek Trevi Counter Stool. Made in a modern silhouette, it sits atop sturdy metal legs finished in a sleek gold and includes a footrest for added support. A thick, plush velvet cushion adds a touch of luxury, while the low-profile metal back adds just the right amount of support and comfort.

Arm Rests

Photo Features: Nusa Bar & Counter Stool

Another important part of this bar stool buying guide is whether or not you want your stools to include armrests. This will make them much more comfortable to sit on, however, armrests also tend to make the stools a bit wider and bulkier. If you have a spacious bar or counter, then stools with an armrest are a great choice. It really comes down to your own personal preference as to whether or not you want to purchase bar stools with armrests included. Keep in mind that armrests may make sliding on and off of the stools a bit trickier, since you’ll need to slide the stool away from the counter or table before you can get up. If you have a tight space, it’s usually best to avoid a counter height stool or bar stool with armrests since they’ll take up more room than a standard armless stool will.

Style and Design

Photo Features: Simone Bar & Counter Stool
Just like the rest of the furniture in your home, you’ll want to be sure you choose stools that feature a style you enjoy. All-metal stools finished in varying colors will give your dining room or bar area an industrial-inspired touch. Stools made of solid wood are ideal for rustic and farmhouse spaces, and something featured with sleek finishes and plush upholstery is perfect for a modern home. You’ll also find beautiful woven bar stools that will give your home an element of warm, organic style. Look for these woven counter stools and bar stools from a variety of exceptional brands, such as Made Goods Furniture, which specializes in durable, high-quality home furnishings.
Photo Features: Dunley Bar & Counter Stool

Made Goods Furniture makes several woven bar stools, including the Mallory Counter or Bar Stool. This supportive stool is constructed of a classic white wicker to seamlessly match with the rest of your furniture in an easygoing, effortless way. A durable woven back and seat rest atop wooden legs accented in a classic whitewash finish. The woven design makes it easy for you to bring a bit of the outdoors inside. You’ll also discover the Dunley Bar and Counter Stool from Made Goods Furniture. This elegant stool boasts a rounded, curved back and features a stunning woven peeled rattan design with a light natural wicker finish. A thick, soft cushion on the seat adds comfort, and the shape of the stool evokes a new spin on the classic barrel chair for an updated aesthetic. A footrest provides you and your guests with additional support while you sip on beverages and take part in engaging conversations.

To Swivel or Not to Swivel

Photo Features: Myla Swivel Bar Stool

Another feature that’s popular with bar stools is a swiveling seat. This allows you to twist all the way around while the stool’s legs stay stationary. If you’re looking for something to add to an open kitchen or dining space, swivel bar and counter stools are a great choice. These stools allow you to turn around and face other parts of the room, and they’re also perfect for interacting with people seated nearby or beside you at the table. Swivel stools give you more versatility and functionality, and they’re perfect for parties and casual entertaining. Overall, swivel stools aren’t recommended if you’re planning to add stools to a dining room, but they work well as casual seating for a kitchen island or bar.


Photo Features: Tapestry Bar & Counter Stool

Finally, the material of your new bar stools is just as important as the design and features. Stools constructed of wood are sturdy, but they don’t always go with the style you’re aiming to portray. Woven bar stools are great for a boho-chic home, while something crafted of metal is perfect for a contemporary dining space or bar area. Look for counter height bar stools made of a mixture of materials, too. For example, a woven or upholstered seat resting on sturdy wooden legs is a great combination that brings durability and style together in one. When you’re looking to buy bar stools, it’s a good idea to try a few of them in person before you make the investment. With the right shape, height, and features, you’ll love how much more functionality you can get from your dining room, kitchen, or living space with these comfy chairs.