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4 Tips for Selecting the Perfect Kitchen Stools


If you’ve ever lived in San Francisco, you know the city is a mecca of amazing food. Even after a decade, the memories of my favorite taqueria still make me salivate. Face-sized burrito? Sign me up. However, the taqueria in question made a rookie mistake — counter-height stools at bar-height tables. Struggling to reach the top of the counter might be cute for a 5-year-old, but as an adult? Awkward. And you better believe that I always get my orders to-go now.

Relying on takeout to avoid uncomfortable seating is one thing, but you should never dread sitting in your own kitchen. If your barstools are more uncomfortable than welcoming, it’s time we tackle this issue head-on. 

From height to style to function, let’s go through the basics of island-top seating to ensure every meal is about the meal.

1. Merge Comfort with Functionality

Photography by David Duncan Livingston

When it comes to selecting kitchen stools, I always advise our clients to consider their priorities and envision how they plan to use their space. Will you be casually sipping your coffee and perching for quick tasks? Or is your kitchen island a designated homework hotspot? I strongly recommend a sit-test before making any impulse purchases. Simply put, there’s a stool out there for every bum.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • For extra comfort, opt for padded and upholstered stools. They’re particularly wonderful for those who may lack natural padding (let’s face it, not all of us are blessed with JLo’s assets).
  • If you have little ones, consider kid-friendly upholstery. We love pleather.
  • Avoid the dreaded foot dangle and select something with footrests.
  • For extended periods of socializing, backrests are a must. Trust me.

2. Height Matters

Photography by David Duncan Livingston

Selecting the wrong-sized seating will quickly turn any location into a space you’d rather avoid. Not ideal for your dream kitchen. Before purchasing anything, measure your counter height. For optimal comfort, aim for approximately 10-12” of space between the top of the seat and the surface of your counter. Here is a quick guide:

  • If your countertops are 36” off the ground, consider counter stools with a seat height ranging from 24” to 26” high.
  • For countertops that are 42” off the ground, bar stools with a seat height ranging from 28” to 33” high are a better match.

By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that your seating aligns perfectly for a comfortable and visually pleasing space. Speaking of…

3. Style with Purpose

In our Scandi Modern Project, we selected backless counter stools that effortlessly merged with the unfinished wood of the open shelving. Purposeful, cohesive, and swoon-worthy. Photography by Vivian Johnson

Choosing the perfect kitchen stools that align with your style can feel overwhelming. Before making any decisions, consider the overall aesthetic of your space. Is it sleek and modern, minimalist, or is it bursting with vibrant colors? Whatever it may be, the color, materials, and style of your stools should seamlessly blend into the existing vibe.

Pro Tip: For a cohesive aesthetic, we always select the island pendants and stools at the same time.

4. Discover the Right Fit for Your Space

Photography by Vivian Johnson Photography

Seat size matters. It’s a detail that can make or break your dining experience. You don’t want to end up with stools crammed together like an awkward game of musical chairs. To avoid this, make sure there is enough space between each stool for guests to sit and stand comfortably. How? By measuring the width of your counter.

The general rule of thumb is to leave a gap of about 21” to 26” from the center of one stool to the center of the next. That way, everyone can enjoy their personal bubble without feeling squeezed. Oh, and remember that swivel stools require a little extra room for their fancy twirl.

Ready to Redefine Your Home Experience?

Kitchen stools aren’t the only elements that can transform your space. Achieving great design is all about discovering the perfect balance between functionality and beauty to elevate and enhance your lifestyle. That’s where Designer on Demand comes in, offering a customizable design service tailored to your specific needs.

With our team’s extensive experience in luxury interior design, we’re dedicated to providing the support you desire. Whether you need a turnkey service or assistance with furniture selection, we’re here for you.




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