Choosing the right counter and bar stool height – and being aware of the difference – is not only important for creating visual balance, but also for seating guests comfortably without hitting glasses, elbows or knees.
Open kitchen plans, home bars and modern design have all pushed the stool into the spotlight as a trendy seating solution. Today, stools are a staple seating choice for bar tables, kitchen countertops, breakfast bars and small spaces.
There are no industry standards for counter and bar stool heights, so taking your own measurements is important.Choosing the ideal counter or bar stool height also relies on space limitations, style and comfort. For this reason, it’s helpful to ask your contractoror designer for recommendations or examples to visualize your design.
Otherwise, below we explain the essential design rules to calculate the ideal counter or bar stool height for your table.
Standard Bar & Counter Stool Heights
Chair heights are typically divided into categories, although there are no industry standard measurements for any category:
- Standard chair height (kitchen and dining table heights)
- Counter height
- Bar height
Many companies produce similar average heights, but it is still important to check dimensions or take your own measurements as height standards are never guaranteed.
Bar Stool Height Versus Counter Stool Height
It’s important to be aware of the distinction between bar stool and counter stool heights.
Standard counter stool heights are typically lower, around 24 inches, designed to fit under kitchen counters. Standard bar stools average around 30 inches for sitting at a taller bar table or counter.
It’s important not to mistakenly buy a bar stool (30 inches height) for a counter height table (36 inches); it will only allow around 6 inches of clearance between the stool and the counter, which is half the recommended space for fitting legs and knees.
Calculating the Ideal Counter & Bar Stool Height
The ideal counter and bar stool height is calculated in the same way as standard dining chair heights. For a comfortable fit – allowing people to also cross their legs – you need to subtract around 9–13 inches from your table or counter height, with 12 being a very spacious allowance. If you have a large overhanging bar or structure, however, opt for a slightly lower stool height.
- 24-inch bar stools: ideal for a 36″ counter, which is typically smaller than a bar table.
- 25-inch bar stool:suitable to fit under a 36″ or 37″ bar or table.
26-inch bar Stools: perfect height for a 38″ bar or counter.
- 30-inch Bar Stool:suited for a standard 42″ bar/counter top, or for the garage, and usually the size the stools you see in a pub.
How to measure the ideal chair height
- Measure the height of your table, counter or bar. You should take your measurements from the floor to the top of your table or counter.
- Calculate the ideal chair height. A general rule is to subtract 10–12 inches from your table, counter or bar height, which is a comfortable space to sit with legs crossed. If your counter top is thick, allow extra space into your calculations.
- Stool height measurements are taken from the feet of the seat to the top of the chair or stool. You do not measure the height of the back of the stool when determining seat height.
- Take a measuring tape when shopping or check provided dimensions. Although most heights are ‘average’, you should still measure exact height.
Average Stool Heights
Standard dining chair heights generally range 17–19 inches from floor to the top of the seat, however, standard stool heights can be as low as 16 inches up to 23 inches due to their minimalism and flexible design.
This allows a comfortable seating space under a dining or kitchen table measuring 28–30 inches high. However, you need to allow more space if your table has an apron, which is the underhanging support of a table.
Eighteen-inch stools are useful additions to any design, even as a single piece, being small, cost-effective and multi-functional, for example, to play music or use as a step-ladder. They are not as suitable for sitting at a kitchen counter, dining area or bar, in which cases you should consider a taller counter or bar stool.
Average Counter Height
The standard counter height is around 36 inches, including countertop material. Taller people may consider a higher setting up to 37 or 38 inches.
What is the Average Counter Stool Height?
Average counter height stools range between 23–29 inches to fit under kitchen counters ranging 34–39 inches height.
The standard counter stool height, however, is typically 24–26 inches to fit tables and counters ranging 36–39 inches high.
Average Bar Height
The average bar table height is 42 inches, although it’s no uncommon to see bar tables ranging from 40–47 inches.
What Is the Average Bar Stool Height?
Average bar stool heights range from 30–36 inches to fit under bar tables from 40–46 inches.
However, you’ll commonly find standard bar stool heights at around 28–32 inches, for bar counters set at 40–43 inches hight.
Tall Bar Stool Height
Adding a taller bar tables adds elegance to a design.
If you opt for a taller bar – from 44–47 inches – consider a bar stool height of around 33–36 inches high.
How Many Bar or Counter Stools Can I Fit?
Once you measure the length of your counter or bar table, you want to make sure there is enough space between stools for people to comfortably eat and drink without hitting elbows.
When calculating adjacent space, you should leave around 26–30 inches between the centre of one stool to the centre of another. For any end bar stools, allow 14 inches from the centre of the stool to the wall or end of the counter. This will allow enough room for someone to enter or exist comfortably.
If calculating from the edges of a stool, allow around 6–10 inches of space to feel relaxed rather than crowded.
For more accurate measurements, you should consider the width of the seat, taking measurements from the widest part of the seat; general sizes re around 15, 17 and 21 inches wide.
Breaking this down:
- For stools 16–18 inches wide, allow 21–22 inches between the centers of two stools, or around 6 inches between the stool edges.
- For stools 19–22 inches wide, allow 24–25 inches between the centers of each stool, or around 8–10 inches from each edge.
- For swivel stools or those with armrests, you’ll need to allow some extra space, starting from 8–10 inches.
The design of a counter or bar stool can also contribute to how much space you need.
Stools with broad backs, armrests, deep seating and cushions are ideal choices if you plan to sit for long periods of time or have daily meals – but these feature also add to the space requirements.
For a casual or modern look, backless stools make a great option and are ideal for small spaces, as they can fully slide under the table. Backless stools are also idea for busy or narrow corridors, or if you don’t want to detract or overwhelm your counter design. However, comfort can become an issue over a long time period.
Swivel stools with backs can add extra comfort. Adjustable stools are also ideal for allowing multi-heights, which can be great if you have children, although are typically more expensive. If you plan to serve food around the stools, low-maintenance materials, such as leather, wood or metal, are easier to clean, or opt for attachable cushions, which can give you a slight advantage over getting more space.