If you’ve recently added a new counter or island to your kitchen, or if you finally got around to installing that bar in your finished basement, then you’re in the market for stools! Sure, it may not seem that exciting; who gets up in the morning for stools? But, choosing the right stools for your kitchen or bar design is so important. Not only will it help to complete the look you’re going for, but the right stools can make your bar or kitchen even more comfortable than you thought it could be.
Believe it or not, you have a huge amount of choice when it comes to picking counter stools and barstools… Did you even know there’s a difference between counter stools and barstools? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to be covering here. In addition to that, we’ll also be covering how to choose the right stools, what your choices are with materials, what the different styles are, and even how to choose the right colors!
So, if you’re in the market for barstools or counter stools, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got stools, stools and more stools for you to look at!
Table of Contents
- The Difference Between Barstools and Counter Stools
- A Word of Caution
- Chair Back Designs
- Making the Purchase
In almost every way, barstools and counter stools are exactly alike. However, there’s one crucial difference. Bar counters tend to be much higher than your traditional kitchen counter. Therefore, barstools will be built higher than counter stools.
This is not to say, though, that barstools cannot work at a kitchen counter. If you have a kitchen counter that features the two-tiered design (where there’s a prep counter and a sitting counter) barstools could be just the thing you need!
Before you go out and find the stools you want, be sure to take all of the proper measurements. Nothing will be worse than picking the stools you think are perfect, only to discover they’re too high or too low for the kitchen counter or bar counter in question. For more on this, see #7.
Barstools are about as basic as they come; however, there are a few features you should consider when purchasing them. Let’s take a look.
Although you can go with garden-variety stools, there are a number of different features you can (and should) consider. Let’s take a look.
Adjustable: Some stools that you encounter will give you the option to adjust the height up or down.
Footrest: If creature comforts are what you’re after, then selecting stools that offer footrests is a good choice.
Folding: Perhaps you only need stools from time to time? There are a number of attractive foldable stools out there!
Swivel: Hey, who doesn’t like to twist around while they’re enjoying a cocktail at the counter? Consider barstools that have seats that swivel.
A big part of what’s going to determine the look of the stools you select is their backs. So let’s take a look at the options.
No Back: The backless stool is the most common kind, as it allows the person sitting to be turned in any direction.
Low Back: For those who want the look of backless barstools but need extra support, the low-back design (which is typical of contemporary-style stools) is ideal.
High Back: If comfort is what you’re after, then you want to go with a high-back stool, which offers full support.
Solid Back: The most typical high-back stool will have a solid back, and this back will almost always be upholstered in the same way as the seat.
Cross Back: For those attempting to create a pub-like setting, opting for a cross-back stool is the choice to make.
Ladder Back: These high-back stools will have slats arranged horizontally along the back. This is perfect for country, rustic and colonial homes.
Windsor Back: If you have other chairs, saying dining room ones, that have Windsor backs, then you should match them with Windsor-back stools.
Mission Back: Finally, mission backs will work well in rustic and country homes, but they’re ideal for those done in the Craftsman style.
Depending upon the style of your bar (or home overall), you’ll want to choose appropriate style stools. While there are too many different styles (and designs) to list, let’s take a look at the major categories.
Country: Within a country style home, you’ll find that barstools with Windsor, Mission or ladder backs work particularly well.
Tiki: Who doesn’t dream of having his or her own tiki bar? If that’s what you’re going to do, get tiki-style stools with wicker seats.
Mid-Century: The mid-century style is still alive and well today; just check out this awesome barstool!
Saddle: Unlike other stools, the saddle-style stool will feature and extra-long seat. This makes it ideal for rustic designs.
Scandinavian: The Scandinavian style is very similar to the saddle-style stool; it just won’t be as long.
Barrel: While you can use a barrel as a barstool if you like, but there are hand-crafted stools that feature that lines of a barrel but with legs.
Rustic: With a rustic-style stool for your bar or kitchen, you’ll want something with exposed wood, and you may wish to pay attention to the upholstery of the seat and back.
Contemporary: In a contemporary kitchen or bar, the design styles are limitless. Contemporary stools will feature interesting lines.
Coastal: Wicker will typically be a feature that you’ll find in coastal barstool, but even if it’s not, you can expect to find a grey, reclaimed wood look.
In terms of creating the look, the material that the stool frame is made of will be exceptionally important. Though stools can be made out of anything, these materials are the most common…
Pine: The cheapest option you’ll have when it comes to barstools and counter stool are those that are made from pine.
Cherry: Cherry grain is exceptionally beautiful, and the wood takes to dark stains well. Consider pairing a cherry stool with a leather seat and/or back.
Oak: For those looking to go the unfinished route, oak can work very well, and it offers much more durability than similar-looking pine frames.
Walnut: In a bar or kitchen that’s adopted a rustic style, walnut stools with dark stains can work exceptionally well!
Plastic: With that caveat that you get what you pay for, plastic frames can work well in contemporary and modern kitchens and home bars.
Metal: For the ultimate in durability, and for something that will work with almost any design concept, metal frames are awesome.
Choosing stools of the appropriate height is of paramount importance. There are four main regions you’ll be looking at, and this is what they are:
Short (16 inches to 23 inches): Shorter stools can be used at normal tables or at counters that are of an irregularly short height.
Counter (24 inches to 27 inches): If you’re going to be using stools at your kitchen counter, and that counter isn’t two-tiered, then you’ll want to go for this height.
Bar (28 inches to 33 inches): As mentioned before, bar counters are typically higher than traditional kitchen counters. Therefore, you’ll want to look in this height range for a bar counter.
Tall (34 inches to 40 inches): In some cases, you may have bar tables that are high up – around a pool table for example. In this situation, you’ll want to opt for taller stools.
The seats of your stools are incredibly important. Not only do they decide the comfort level of the stools in question; they’re also important to the look. Here are the standard materials that seats will be made from…
Leather: If you want seats for your barstools that are luxurious, durable, and ooze class, then you’ll find no better seat material than leather.
Faux Leather: Stools made with faux leather seats more or less look the part of their more-expensive brethren; they’re just cheaper. Watch out for back pocket keys tearing holes, though.
Plastic: When you want a completely custom look, say for a contemporary kitchen or bar design, plastic can be a great option.
Wood: For a purely classic look, you’ll want to opt for wood stools, which come in a variety of different stains.
Microfiber: Microfiber seats have the benefit of being relatively easy to keep clean, and they’re also quite comfortable.
Wicker: Setting up an outside bar on your recently refinished patio? Wicker barstools will be perfect! They also work for coastal-style homes.
While you may think of a barstool or kitchen stool as made of wood and leather, the fact is this: there are plenty of color options out there. To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, let’s take a look at some examples.
Orange: If you’re furnishing a modern or contemporary kitchen or bar, you may find that orange is the perfect color!
Red: With deeply stained wood grains and leather touches, stools that feature the color red can work exceptionally well.
Yellow: If you’re trying to maintain a bright and cheery atmosphere, yellow is obviously going to be the color of choice.
Eclectic: For those who like to mix things up and to keep things colorful, why would you do anything less with your stools?
Green: Although uncommon compared to the other color choices, green can work particularly well in the right environment.
Blue: You’ll find that blue barstools and counter stools work particular well in rustic-style kitchens and bars.
As we said before – and this point can’t be emphasized enough – make sure that you’re picking stools of the appropriate height before you make the purchase! If you’re still confused, get out your measuring tape, take the measurements, and then head back to #7…
Provided you’ve got the height nailed down, you should know that stools run the gamut in terms of cost. You may find some that you love, but that are $300 to $500 a throw. After research though, you may find stools of a similar design that are much, much cheaper. That cost difference may not reflect quality; it may only reflect the brands.
So, be sure to take your time while looking, and only spend your money once you’re convinced that the stools you’ve selected will work in the space and that they’ll also provide comfort for those bellying up to the bar (or kitchen counter).