Choosing the Perfect Barstools and Counter Stools According to the Numbers

You would think buying bar stools wouldn’t be all that difficult. After all, it’s just simple furniture, right? Wrong. While many people are displacing their old dining furniture with newer bar and counter stools, you should understand how to fit these new pieces into your home before you jump on the bandwagon.

Measure Your Counter or Table First

Before you rush out and buy your first bar stool, you should measure your table height first. There’s nothing worse than throwing away your old furniture and then replacing it with stuff you can’t use.

Measure the distance from the floor to the top of the table. Then, calculate a 10 to 12 inch space between the table top and the seat. This should give you enough room to sit comfortably at the table, unless you’re a bodybuilder.

Measure The Overhang

Measure the overhang of the table. A lot of people forget to do this and end up with stools that don’t fit under the table. A table with an overhang might need a special type of stool or a lowered height (lower than what you were expecting).

Websites, like can help you get an idea of styling and heights, but you’ll also probably want to stop into a store location and physically look over what you’re thinking about before you buy.

Some overhangs can be deceiving because that dramatically change the height of the table, especially when the table top itself is already thick.

Get To Know The Lingo

This sounds a little odd, but bar stools have their own lingo. Stools and chairs don’t look like much more than something you sit on, but you’ll discover very quickly that the wrong stool will make you hate your dining room and kitchen.

One description you might see in a stool selection is “dining height.” This refers to stools that are about 28-30 inches high. The stools you buy should be about 16 to 18 inches high to accommodate the table. Always measure to the top of the stool when doing your calculations.

When measuring the table, you can measure to the table top and subtract the 10-12 inches or just measure to the bottom and leave the subtraction off. Just keep in mind that all heights you see for tables will include the table top.

Another term you’ll see is “counter height.” This refers to tables that are 35-36 inches high. This means you’ll need a stool that is about 24 to 26 inches tall.

There’s also “bar height.” This refers to tables that are about 40 inches high. You’re going to need stools in the 28 to 30 inch range.

Finally, there is the “spectator height.” This is a table that is about 45 to 48 inches high. You will need extended barstools to accommodate this type of table or bar – 32 to 34 inches tall.

There’s also something to be said about swivel vs stationary stools. Swivel stools do as they say – they swivel. If you like the idea of rotating the stool to get out of it, instead of physically moving it, get yourself a swivel stool. This is pretty important for spectator height stools and anything over a normal “dining height.”

Miriam Porter is a self-confessed home decorating addict and mom of four. Whenever she has free time, she likes to sit down and share her insights with others by posting online. Look for her helpful articles on a variety of websites and blogs.

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