How to Choose the Right Bar Stool Height

Not just for pubs and diners, bar stools are a valuable addition to any home. They’re the perfect way to not only create seating options, but add a little flair and height to your kitchen or dining room. Give the room in question a slightly less formal and more relaxed, joyful air by grabbing a couple of barstools to balance everything out.

Whether your family eats at a formal dining table or sprawled on the couch, bar stools won’t ever go astray – they’re perfect for casual meals, your morning cup of coffee or simply taking a perch while you’re having a conversation or scrolling social media. Are you ready to enter the barstool game? Well, here are a few things you should know before you start setting up your new brekky nook…

What’s involved in selecting bar stools?

Brosa Koko Bar Stool styled in Scandinavian kitchen

Koko Bar Stool | Shop all bar stools

Choosing the right bar stool involves three key measurements – chair size, counter height and clearance. By combining these, you’ll be able to determine the size of your ideal bar stool. These high seating options need to strike a balance between distance from your surface (e.g. kitchen island or high table) and the overall comfort of the position. Keep reading for a breakdown of each of these core elements.

Bar stool sizes

First up, let’s work out the overall seat height of your bar stool. This measurement is taken from the floor all the way to the top of the chair’s seat. There are a range of heights and sizes on offer when you’re shopping for a bar stool, but commonly, you’ll find there are low counter stools (60cm and shorter), super-high, pub-style stools (70cm and taller) and then a size that fits comfortably in the middle of the two (between 60 and 70cm).

The size that suits you and your home best will primarily be determined by counter height, but as a first step, consider if a certain bar stool height just feels better in the room, or works well with your style. For instance, a lower stool might be more traditional, whereas a high, sleek stool could give off a modern vibe. Also keep in mind that many chairs will have backs on them, making the overall look of the stool much grander – however, this won’t add to the height and overall size considerations of the bar stool.

Brosa Clovis Set of 2 Barstools High styled in classic traditional kitchen

Clovis Set of 2 Bar Stools | Shop all bar stools

Also think about functionality – do you plan on moving the bar stools around and using them for different purposes? If you plan on grabbing them as a last resort for the dining table when guests come over, maybe shorter bar stools are more up your alley.

Counter height

Once you’ve roughly worked out the height you’re looking for, add to the equation by measuring counter height. Depending on where you plan on placing your bar stools, you might be working with something very tall like a kitchen island, or something a bit smaller like a high table. Take its height from the floor to the bottom lip of the bench or table.

As you may expect, each bar stool size suits a certain counter height range. It’s important you’ve got as much room as you need to sit comfortably at the stool but can also easily use the surface as it’s intended. Use these sizes as a guide, but for the best fit, you’ll want to pair it with one last measurement…

Clearance and leg room

Brosa Jackson Bar Stool styled in new Art Deco kitchen

Jackson Bar Stool | Shop all bar stools

Finally, complete the measurements by figuring out how much space you’ll need for your legs. The perfect bar stool will allow you to sit in a relaxed, comfortable position with enough space between you and the table or kitchen counter. Most people need between 20 and 30cm to accommodate their legs, but as a tip, find the biggest person in the household and use them as a guide. After all, there’s no point using kids or teens who’ve still got growing to do!

In the case of a bar stool, more space doesn’t always mean a better, more comfortable fit. Too much clearance can feel awkward and inhibit your use of the surface, but conversely, a tight fit can be restrictive. Err on the side of too roomy, but try to measure as accurately as you can.

Completing the equation for the perfect bar stool height

When you’ve got a number for clearance, you can group everything together and do some quick maths to ascertain the ideal bar stool height. Take the height of the counter or surface from floor to bottom lip and subtract the leg room clearance figure. That will equal a rough height for your bar stool, helping to guide your selection process.

Of course, whatever number you come up with will be rough, and that’s okay! Just knowing an approximate range for your bar stool height is a good starting point and should protect you from too much error when picking that perfect new piece. Depending on the style of bar stool you’re after, there will be a fair bit of variation across heights, so just try to keep it within 3-5cm of your ‘ideal’ height to stay safe.

Other considerations when selecting a bar stool

Brosa Sophie Set of 2 Bar Stools styled in modern contemporary kitchen

Sophie Set of 2 Bar Stools | Shop all bar stools

With your bar stool size sorted, the last part of the process is to take a step back – these measurements and ways of determining the ‘perfect’ height are all subjective, and as long as you’re comfortable, then go with your gut! With that in mind, though, here are a few final things to consider when you’re taking the leap and adding bar stools to your interior design plan.

  • Play with the height range by adding or removing cushioning. Some prefer bar stools that are really well padded for a super plush place to sit, whereas others like a clean, modern look with no upholstery or frills.
  • Consider that a backrest, a feature of many bar stools, will change the way you use the seat. If you’re leaning back, the surface area required to accommodate your legs may change slightly. Plus, backrests are something to think about overall, when it comes to the style, flair and feel of the bar stool as well as whether it can be used as a multipurpose chair.
  • Ultimately, your decision will be affected by the way you intend on using the bar stools. Keep use in the back of your mind throughout the entire process, and consider your options and their practicality at various stages of the purchase process.

With size, height and functionality covered off, all there’s left to do is select the style and aesthetic of your new bar stools, and place them in that coveted spot in your home! Whether you’re outfitting a table, kitchen island or even an at-home bar, this guide should help you select the right bar stool for your space.

Of course, we acknowledge that shopping for furniture online can be a layered process – which is why here at Brosa, we make it easy to picture a piece in your home before you click ‘add to cart’. Use our View at Home feature and augmented reality technology to envision your new bar stools and make sure they’re everything you’re looking for. Then, when you’re ready to shop, purchase with Australia-wide shipping and Afterpay or Zip Money available.