Bar stools aren’t just chairs you park yourself on while you wait for your friendly neighborhood bartender to notice your frantic waving. With their wide range of materials and designs, bar stools are an easy way to elevate style and add functionality to any space.
Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right bar stool.
When choosing bar stools, you need to remember that people will be using them not just to sit in, but to eat, drink, and socialize. Hence, it’s important to provide enough space between each stool so people can sit comfortably without bumping elbows with each other every time they move. Here are a few rules of thumb:
- Stools that are 16″ to 18″ wide at their widest part need 21″ to 22″ of space per stool.
- Stools that are 19″ to 22″ wide at their widest part need 24″ to 25″ of space per stool.
- Stools that swivel and/or have arms need more space between them.
As for height, bar stools are generally 28” to 30” high from floor to seat. The recommended counter height for these stools is around 40” to 42”.
Bar stools are available in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Always consider the overall design of your kitchen when choosing your bar stools. Is it rustic and traditional or more sleek and modern? Do you want your stools to match the design or to stand out, like a vintage wicker stool in a clean, ultra-modern minimalist kitchen, for example?
Another big question to think about is whether you want a stool with a back or a backless one. If you want comfort, a stool with a back will let you sit comfortably for longer since you can always lean back and stretch a bit. They’re often more lounge-worthy, and a broad-backed stool can make your space look more inviting.
Backless stools win out in terms of space saving. You can easily tuck them away and out of sight, so these designs may be the way to go if your space is small and busy. If you don’t want stools that call attention to themselves, backless make great options.
Metal – If you want something sturdy and easy to clean, a metal bar stool is the perfect option. Budget-wise, you can usually get a metal bar stool for relatively cheap. Metal stools lend a distinctly modern and industrial touch to a space, creating a beautiful contrast in a traditional kitchen dominated by wooden kitchen cabinets.
Depending on your choice of kitchen materials and appliances, a sleek metal stool will blend in well with all the shiny, stainless steel surfaces in a more modern kitchen design. Be careful of metal-legged stools if you have a wooden floor, though. Consider adding casters to them; dragging them around can scratch up a floor.
Wood – Similar to metal, wooden stools require relatively low maintenance, making them a good fit for use in areas where food is served. They blend well with a traditional or rustic kitchen design.
Wood can also serve as a splash of color in a very neutral space. A set of wooden stools can break up the monotony in a mostly white kitchen.
While not exactly wood, wicker bar stools can also add a touch of warmth and comfort to any given space. They can be bulkier and a bit harder to maintain, but choose a set that complements the color of your wooden floor and you have an instant recipe for elegance.
Plastic – Molded plastic stools may not have the sturdiness of metal or the sheer elegance of a wooden bar stool, but they make up for it by being cheap, easy to clean, and available in a very wide range of colors and designs. They usually weigh less, so they’re pretty easy to lug around, too.
Adventurous designers can get a lot of mileage out of mixing and matching boldly colored plastic bar stools with non-traditional kitchen designs. You can also use a set of plastic bar stools (or any kind of bar stool, really) with the same design but in different colors to break the monotony and add a sense of fun to a space.
Choosing bar stools isn’t a science – it’s always a question of what the design of the space is and what you want the stools to add to it.