The HUX Report Vol 9: All About Barstools

With winter festivities and our Christmas bubble window fast approaching, you’ll be hosting dinners and entertaining your family “baubles” before you know it. One of the best ways to add functional seating to almost any space is with bar stools. Coming in all different sizes and styles, their versatility is unlimited. Whether you’re snacking at the kitchen counter or having a drink at your home bar, the height of your bar stools should allow you to sit comfortably. And there are a few key considerations you need to know.

Stool seat heights typically fall into one of three groups.

1. Lows stools – with seat heights broadly similar to those of chairs, suitable for use with most tables. Shorter stools of this height are less common in design than other heights, but they can serve as the perfect substitute to chairs at a table or breakfast nook, especially if you’re going for a more casual look.

2. Counter/kitchen worktop height stools with seat heights suitable for using beside kitchen worktops. These stools are the perfect seating in the kitchen, or even in a living area. They are not quite as tall as the stools you’ll see in a restaurant or bar, so they’re easy and accessible seating for all areas.

3. Bar/poseur height stools with seat heights to suit hospitality venue bars, higher than kitchen worktops. These stools are the kinds you’ll find at bars, so they don’t do well at a standard kitchen island, but they can be great additions to a home bar, garage or workroom, and they look really good with a modern farmhouse aesthetic! 

The following are commonly recognised heights for barstools:

  • Low stool: 450-490mm (for sitting at standard tables, around 750mm high)
  • Counter/kitchen worktop height: 600-650mm (for sitting at kitchen worktops around 900mm high)
  • Bar/poseur height: 750-800mm: (for sitting at most bars, which tend to be around 1100mm) 

Most designers are concerned with the overall seat height of a barstool, but the dimensions to and from the foot rail play a crucial role in the comfort of a barstool. We’ve found the following dimensions ideal for contract use. 

Footrest Height
Footrest to seat height: This is the most important dimension and should be roughly 450-480mm or people will not be able to sit comfortably.

Floor to footrest height: Floor to footrest height shouldn’t be more than 320mm or you will have difficulty climbing on to the seat. Seat heights should be no more than 800mm for the same reason as people may struggle to sit on the chair.

Footrest Size
The footrest size depends on the shell size. Wider shell sizes will need a bigger footrest. If the footrest is not large enough to align with the base of the shell the footrest will need to be higher up the column so that people are able to bend their legs to reach it.  

When pairing a shell with a barstool base 
Don’t forget to add the seat height of the shell to the height of the base for an overall seat height. i.e., If you need a barstool with a 750mm seat height, and you order a 750mm high base, the overall seat height will be higher when you include the shell, particularly if the shell is upholstered. 

Cutting Barstools Down
Sometimes designers request that barstools are cut down to accommodate a non-standard height. While cutting down a barstool is possible, it’s often far from ideal, and in most cases, it would be better to pick a different product of the right height. This is because when the size of the legs or base of a barstool is altered the entire dimensions of the barstool change too. 

Legroom Space
You should aim to give 23-28cm for legroom.  This will allow you to easily cross and move your legs without feeling trapped.  Measure from the underside of the counter to the floor and subtract between 23-28cm. 

Distance Between Stools
It’s also important to consider how many barstools will comfortably fit at your kitchen island.  The average seat width is about 42cm and if the stool has arms that would take it to around 55cm width. It’s recommended to leave at least 15cm space between each stool.  This allows room to turn, eat and drink comfortably at the kitchen bar. 

Choosing the Depth and Backrest Height
One last thing to consider is the depth of the stool.  The depth and backrest go hand in hand as a big backrest will add to the overall depth to the stool.  The average stool depth is around 40cm. If you add a backrest to this, you can add anywhere between 5 and 12cm.  Consider your space and the traffic around where the barstools will be placed and if you have a limited kitchen space go for a backless option as they can neatly pushed under the counter when not in use.

Barstool Features to Look For:

An Adjustable Height. Some bar stools come with a hydraulic pump that allows you to adjust the seat. This feature is great for families who may have both children and adults using the stools at different times. 

A Swivel Top. A swivel top allows the seat to move from side to side without moving the chair base. This feature is the ideal for easy dining and multitasking, and they are best placed at the kitchen island, dining room (as a dining chair), living room, or breakfast nook!