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Interior Design & Decorating, Kitchen

Kitchen Stool Buying Guide

By on May 31, 2016
Kitchen Stool Buying Guide

We've all experienced it. No matter the occasion, everyone gathers in the kitchen making it the true heart of your home. Regardless of how your kitchen is configured, it's important to give yourselves and your guests a comfortable place to sit and relax!

Finding the right stools for your kitchen can be challenging since there are many factors to consider including height, spacing and comfort. We've put this guide together to make finding the best stools for your kitchen, breakfast bar or island a breeze! 

Style Of Stools

Step 1: Determine Correct Height

You'll notice when shopping around, stools are available in different heights such as counter, table and dining, bar and stadium height. The difference in heights between these can cause problems if you purchase incorrectly. As a designer, I have seen lots of confusion about the different styles throughout the years, so let's clear that up. To determine which style is correct for your needs, measure the height of your table or counter where the stools will be placed.

  • Table and dining height chair stools typically measure 18” from the floor to the top of the seat and will work with a table or counter around 28” to 30” in height.
  • Counter stools typically measure 24” to 26” from the floor to the top of the seat and will work with a standard-height counter 35” to 38” in height.
  • Bar stools typically measure 28” to 30” from the floor to the top of the seat and will work with a counter that is stepped up, usually around 6”, from the rest of the counter to 40” to 42” in height. Bar stools are also commonly used with many pub tables.
  • Stadium height bar stools are the tallest available and measure approximately 34” to 36” from the floor to seat and will work with a table or counter around 48” in height.

If your dimensions stray a little from these common sizes, a good rule of thumb is to leave anywhere between 10” to 13” from the seat to the counter for best comfort.

Modern Kitchen Stools

Step 2: Determine the Quantity of Stools Needed

It’s important to provide enough space between stools for people to eat, drink and socialize in the kitchen without bumping elbows. The industry standard calls for 26” to 30” between the centers of each bar stool. If you're leaning towards stools that swivel or stools that have arms, allow for even more space, preferably at least 30”. Also consider the height of the armrest to be certain they will fit under the table or counter.

Unique Kitchen Stools

Step 3: Determine Style

Now that you've narrowed down your dimensions and quantity needed, you're ready to start shopping! Stools come in an infinite number of styles, anywhere from old-world pub to country cottage and anything in between. When chosen well, your stools can really enhance your home's décor. You can purchase stools that blend seamlessly into the space or use them as a focal point instead. Keep in mind placement and frequency of use to determine the quality of stools that would be best. For instance, if the stools are being used on a daily basis in the kitchen, you may want to consider an upholstery that is stain-resistant or stain-proof. Leather, polyester and microfiber typically offer more stain-resistance than cotton. This is an important factor to consider if these stools may come in contact with food and beverages.

In addition, if the stools will be located in an area with frequent direct sunlight, you may want to consider a metal stool or higher-quality wooden stools that will withstand the changes in heat, light and humidity.

Finally, what about comfort? Comfort has a lot to do with personal preference, but you need to think about who will be sitting on these stools. While a backless stool may take up less space, most adults will not find these comfortable to sit on for a long period of time and children may find themselves wanting to lean backwards. A stool with footrests and a cushioned seat will be very comfortable. Swivel stools are also gaining in popularity because a well-made stool can be fairly heavy. A swivel stool will save you from having to pull the stool out to sit on it, then having to push it back up the counter when you’re done. A swivel stool makes the process that much quicker and easier and saves the wear and tear on your flooring!

Unique Kitchen Stools


As more and more homes are favoring an open concept floor plan, more and more kitchens are including stools into the kitchen. Including stools into your kitchen design is the perfect way to enjoy meals in the kitchen, as well as just hanging out. The kids can even do their homework in the kitchen, bringing whole family together.

Are you planning on including seating in your kitchen remodel? Do you already have kitchen stools that get lots of use in your home? Tweet me @whalenkristin or comment below!

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