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Room Buying Guide: Counter Stools vs. Bar Stools

Counter and Bar Stool Buying Guide from Homemakers Furniture

Welcome back to our Room Buying Guide series! We go room by room to create a comprehensive breakdown of everything you’ll need to build the perfect room, with suggestions on what to look for when shopping and how to incorporate your own style. Make sure you don’t miss out on any buying guides; subscribe to our blog for weekly updates on design and style!

Just when you thought you knew everything about furniture, we hit you with another tricky question: what is the difference between a counter stool and a bar stool? This week we’ll be clearing up any lingering confusion about counter stools and bar stools and showing you how to add extra seating to your kitchen, game room or home bar.

Measuring for Your Stool

Let’s dive right: what is the difference between a bar and counter stool? There is in fact only one defining difference between the two: height. Here’s another fun fact: there are actually three types of stools.

Spectator stools are the tallest and usually range from 34 to 36 inches. Bar stools are the second tallest and usually measure between 28 and 30 inches to the seat. Counter stools are next and typically measure in between 24 and 26 inches to the seat. Compare these heights to a standard side chair which is usually between 18 and 20 inches to the seat. While these measurements may vary between styles, this is a good baseline to start your planning.

To get an accurate measurement of your counter, start from the floor and go to the top of the counter. Always measure at least twice to ensure accuracy!

“A good rule of thumb is to subtract 12 inches from the height of your counter. So if your counter is 42 inches tall, you will need a 30-inch bar stool.”Dara Telford, furniture buyer
Counter stools vs bar stools from Homemakers Furniture

Styles


Not all stools are alike! They can be pretty versatile seating options because they’re easily moved around and adjusted and come in so many different styles. Forget what you think you might know about stools. A bar stool does not have to be backless and a counter stool doesn’t have to swivel. You can choose whatever suits your space best.

  • Back styles- There are so many different styles of backs when it comes to stools, just like side chairs. Ladder back, slat back, lattice, we have it all! You should have fun adding an extra dimension of style to your dining or bar area.
  • Frames- The frame of your stools can add an unexpected element to the overall look of your space. A stool’s frame is either welded or screwed; we carry both options here at Homemakers. A welded stool is one solid frame with pieces- you guessed it! – welded together while a screwed stool is a series of pieces all separately attached. A welded stool tends to be durable and long-lasting. Don’t worry, you still have swivel and tilt options with a welded stool!
  • Leg styles– Just like backs, stools can have simple straight legs or stand out with turned, cabriole, splayed or tapered legs. This is another chance for you to add your own style to your space.
  • Low back/backless- If a stool is a backless seat to you, that’s okay! The classically casual form is easy to incorporate into your kitchen or bar and comes in just as many style options. A saddle seat stool provides a comfortable, curved seat while a contoured scoop seat is both eye-catching and perfectly molded.
  • Seats- A stool can be cushioned or uncovered. Typically counter stools in a dining set are uncovered while those at a home bar or kitchen island might be cushioned. But it really just depends on your own style preferences! Any outdoor stools with cushions will be specially made to be quick-drying or resistant to weather. You can also choose a custom fabric to make your space as personal as possible. The options are endless here at Homemakers!

If you know you’ll be moving in the next year or so, consider choosing adjustable stools. That way you can still use them if you move into a home with different counter heights!

Outdoor Options


You have outdoor options for stools as well! It’s not quite the season to dine outdoors but soon you can relax on your deck, patio or balcony while dining al fresco and enjoying the warmth of spring and summer. We have outdoor bar stools and outdoor counter stools that are resistant to weather damage so that you can still bring your style to your outdoor space. We also have another blog post with tips for taking care of outdoor furniture, including your bar and counter stools.

Whatever your choice, stools are an easy way to add extra seating to a kitchen island, counter, dining space or home bar. It really comes down to height and what will work in your space. Always be sure to measure your counters before you start shopping (and then measure again just to be sure!). Then choose which type of stool best suits your needs and from there you have free rein to choose any style or material you like!


For more advice on home décor, check out the rest of our Room Buying Guides series.

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