Take a Seat: A Home Bar Stools Buying Guide

It's easy to pick the types of bar stools for your home that keep friends and family members comfortable. Use your seating choices to create an area that encourages loved ones to hang out, socialize, and make memories that last a lifetime. While comparing bar and dining stools, consider factors like the build of your bar or counter, the decor and color scheme of the room, and what seating features help people relax.

How Many Bar Stools Will You Need?

Hitting the right number of seating options means thinking about guests' comfort, how much space they need, and what distance encourages chatting without packing people in like sardines. The rule of thumb is that there should be 26 to 30 inches between the center of one seat and the center of the seat next to it. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule. Feel free to leave more space between bar stools if your friends like their space and you have the bar room to accommodate everyone.

With this setup, there's lots of room for people to rest their elbows, spread out their food and drinks, and socialize with those around them. Remember to leave space at each end of the counter, as no one wants to be the person left with an inch of space at the very edge.

Seat width impacts the number of bar stools a surface can support. Most models are between 15 and 20 inches wide. While checking out seat width, also look at the width between the stool legs. Some selections have legs that are barely wider than the seat itself, while others expand out to a much wider base. Wide base models need more space to ensure that people can get in and out with ease.

Getting Stool Height Just Right

There are a lot of similarities between bar and dining seats, but bar stool dimensions tend to be slightly taller than dining seat options. The majority of bar stools have a seat height of 28 to 32 inches. The optimal choice depends on the height of your bar. To keep guests comfortable and ensure that they can move freely, aim for a gap of 9 to 14 inches between the top of the seat and the bottom of the counter. Smaller gaps can pinch legs, while larger spaces can make it hard for people to rest their arms on the counter comfortably.

Double check measurements when comparing tufted and padded bar stools. There are slight differences in seat heights, based on whether you measure from the top or the bottom of the seat. Measure from the top of the seat, since tufting and padding don't fully compress. Measuring from the bottom could leave a too-small gap for your legs.

Choosing Backless or Raised-Back Bar Stools

Part of shopping for bar stools is knowing which features best fit the feel and layout of the room. Backless models are light and easy to move, so rearranging is a cinch. People can sit any way they want on a backless unit, making it easier to accommodate crowds and groups. On the flip side, bar stools with backs combine the convenience of high-top seating with the comfort of dining chairs. They provide lower back support and lend an air of elegance to any dining room or bar.

Consider your layout and storage options before you decide on a style. If you plan on leaving bar stools in the same place most of the time, transportation concerns are minimal. If you have to put them in storage to accommodate different events and room layouts, backless varieties could be easier to move and may even stack for a compact solution.

Comparing Armed and Armless Stools

When exploring different types of bar stools, there's a lot of overlap between varieties. For example, the majority of armed bar stools also have high backs. However, bar stools with backs can be armed or armless. There are even a few options that combine a backless design with arms.

Each choice has its benefits. Armless models fit people of all sizes, while armed versions could compress the legs and hips of those with wider builds. Armless models also let people move through a variety of positions while sitting. Armed bar stools give individuals a place to rest their arms beyond the bar itself, freeing up counter space and offering visitors options.

Selecting a Bar Stool Material

As you get into the aesthetics of bar stools, think about the rest of the furniture in the room. The best bar stools enhance the feel created by other pieces; from other seating options to tables and storage furniture. Most bar stools have wood or metal frames. Wood is sturdy and reliable, lending a classic and timeless feel to the dining area. Metal is more lightweight than wood, making transportation easier and offering a minimalist feel to the area. 

Look at upholstery versions alongside the upholstery currently on other seating in the room, including dining benches and chairs. Vinyl is easy to clean and available in a wide range of colors, so there are multiple choices for any decor scheme. Fabric is softer and doesn't get slick in hot weather. Fabric selections are also available in a range of hues and patterns. Think about mixing and matching to create a room with seating options for everyone. Many dining room collections combine upholstered and unupholstered units to fit everyone's seating preferences.

Finish off your bar area with carefully chosen bar stools that offer plenty of leg room and let your guests get involved in conversations. Buy bar stools that enhance the appearance of a room and offer maximum comfort to your friends and family for years of unforgettable good times.