Which Height Is Right?! Bar and Counter Stools

When you seek the ideal barstools or counter stools, do not expect it to be a simple choice. Many factors need consideration. These include the stool’s height, its colour, the materials used to make it and a whole lot more. If you’re in a hurry simply download our handy infographic guide on Choosing the Right Height Stools, Table and Chairs here. We’ve also separated each height into its own clear category on our website, making it easy to shop Barstools here and Counter Stools here.

For a start, there are a plethora of styles taking in the whole gamut of price points that need your attention. At Olson + Baker we are keen to help you find the barstool that will suit you and your style. So here are our snippets of advice.

Before you start choosing barstools for you, it is a good idea to consider where in your home the furniture will go. Will these stools be in the kitchen, the living room or somewhere else? What will match the decor?

If you don’t think about matching your interior design, the stools may not suit the room. Buying a too bright colour could clash.

Barstools Height

Once you know where your furniture will be going, begin with the height of your barstool.

To determine what you need, check the distance from the floor to either the top or bottom of the counter or bar. The commercial bar counters found in pubs or restaurants are often between 102 and 107 cm tall.

Good seat height for this type of elevation is 91 cm. This leaves room for the person to sit in comfort while at the bar.

One style that is available in two sizes is Skagerak’s Georg High Bar Stool.  This has been flawlessly designed by Chris L. Halstrøm, and is available in two heights. It comes with a wool seat that is held in place by a leather strap. The ingenious frame includes stabilising metal joints that also serve as a footrest.

When it comes to your home’s Breakfast or Kitchen Bar, the height tends to be in the region of 91 cm. This means a good seat height would be between 61 and 66 cm. What you then need to decide is whether to go for a fixed-height stool or one that you can adjust as required.

As well as the height, measure the width of the bar too. This allows you to determine how many stools would fit. The general rule of thumb is to allow between 66 and 76 inches between each stool. That way you can all but guarantee a comfortable fit.

Barstools Materials

The materials you select will have a big bearing on the look and feel of the space in which your stools will sit. A wooden bar stool will give that traditional country feel. Leather bar stools are a luxurious addition to any space in which you plan to relax. Simple plastic or acrylic seat tops are modern designs that offer low maintenance.

When you choose the material, look to match the stools with the furniture you already have in your home.

Durability and wear are also important considerations. If a stool gets regular use, it needs to be able to stand significant wear and tear. It is not a good idea to buy bar cloth-upholstered stools. These can stain and become worn over time. Low maintenance surfaces like acrylic or plastic are ideal solutions for busy spaces.

Barstools Seats

Stools tend to fall into one of three groups. First, there are low stools. These have seat heights that are like chairs and suitable for sitting at most tables.

The second group are counter-top stools. These have seat heights that  are suited for use with raised worktops. The final group are often called “poseur-height” stools. They are suitable for hospitality venue bars. These spaces are taller than kitchen worktops.

The most recognised heights for barstools are:

  • Low: 450 to 490mm (for sitting at standard tables, around 750mm high)
  • Counter/kitchen worktop: 600 to 650mm (for sitting at kitchen worktops that are about 900mm high)
  • Bar/poseur height: 750 to 800mm (for sitting at the majority of bars that tend to be about 1100mm)

Most designers not only concern themselves with seat heights. They also take in the dimensions to and from the foot rail. These can play a crucial role in barstool comfort.


Footrest to seat height: This is an important dimension. It should be roughly in the region 450-480mm for people to be able to sit in comfort.

Floor to footrest height: Floor to footrest height should be no more than 320mm. Otherwise, there may be problems climbing onto the seat. The seat heights should be no more than 800mm.

Footrest sizes depend on the shell size. Wider shell sizes need bigger footrests. If a footrest is not large enough to align with the base of the shell, the footrest will need to be higher up the column. This is so people can bend their legs to reach it.

Pairing shells with bases

At Olson + Baker all the seat heights for counter and barstools are the true seat heights.

To calculate the seat height for yourself from scratch you need to add the shell’s height to that of the base. This means that if the barstool you order has a 750mm seat height and a 750mm high base, the seat height will be higher. This will particularly be the case if the stool has an upholstered shell.

On occasion, designers ask for barstools to become a non-standard height. This is far from ideal. In most cases, pick a different product to achieve the right height. You don’t want to alter the entire dimensions of a barstool.

Stool Height Calculator

We know the feeling. It is an unnerving uncertainty you experience when measuring your kitchen’s breakfast bar. You worry about returning those beautiful new bar stools. All because of a miscalculation. Here we provide a comprehensive bar stool buying guide.

The standard height for most counter height stools is between 65cm and 75cm. When pairing with a kitchen counter, ensure the measurement is between 15cm and 25cm. This is the distance from the top of the counter stool to the underside of the surface.

For example, if your kitchen’s surface height is 90cm. The kitchen stools should measure between 65cm and 75cm. The standard height for most bar stools is between 75cm and 85cm. When pairing with a tall bar, ensure the measurement is between 20cm – 30cm. This is from the top of the barstool to the underside of the surface

For instance, if the bar height is 105cm (underside). Make sure your barstools measure between 75cm and 85cm. The standard height countertop for most domestic kitchens is 90cm. Look to pair with stools no less than 15cm and no more than 25cm from the top of the stool to the underside of the counter.

For instance, a 90cm high counter (underside) pairs well with stools that measure 65cm to 75cm.


Before youbuy, check the spacing of your barstools. This is to prevent them from looking too overcrowded or too sparse. Barstools placed too close together will feel claustrophobic.

Space stools at least 15cm apart. And no more than 40cm to achieve the most aesthetic and comfortable effects.

Barstools Backless or Backrest

Kitchen stools should keep you comfortable during prolonged periods of use. Choosing the correct style of bar stool to provide the support you need depends on its usage. Professionals who work from home should opt for stools with a backrest. Backrests aids good posture due to an upright, more ergonomic seating position.

They also provide a little more comfort during long sessions. If your daily bar stool usage consists of an evening meal alone, a backless bar stool will more than suffice.

Fredericia’s Spine High Bar Stool is available both with and without a backrest. The backrest version was designed by Space Copenhagen in 2011. It is a dining stool that is supplied with an upholstered back and seat and wooden frame. The backless version was designed three years later but has the same seat and frame.

This spine series combines Fredericia’s craftmanship with imaginative detail. It was originally designed with the commercial sector in focus. It is now a favourite of many luxury restaurant and bar establishments.

Barstools Hard v Comfortable

The biggest difference between hard and comfortable bar stools is often the appearance. Soft squidgy stools are comfortable over prolonged periods. But, they can look a little bulky and cumbersome in the home.

Hard barstools (often wooden) can look far sleeker. They are minimalistic and more stylish but can become uncomfortable after a while. It’s a trade-off. Take the Gubi 3D Counter Stool. It was designed by Komplot Design‘s Boris Berlin and Poul Christianse in 2003. Produced in Denmark the collection has won many awards. It was Gubi’s first design to be based on the innovative method of moulding three-dimensional veneer. This is what gives the wood its gentle warmth and a sense of lightness.

Roughly define your daily usage and go from there. For a couple of hours per session and over, opt for a padded version. For anything less, you should be fine with a wooden bar stool.

Barstools Legroom Dimensions

If your breakfast bar is hollow underneath, you have nothing to worry about here. If, however, you have a solid wall beneath the surface you may want to read on.

To have enough space beneath the bar or countertop for your legs, leave between 30 and 35cm from the front to the upright. This is where your knees will rest.

If you are designing your breakfast bar to leave a similar amount of space from the upright to the tip of the kitchen surface. Any less than a 30cm gap will mean you will have to sit further back, away from the action.

By now you should be well equipped to buy your selection of beautiful new barstools.

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