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All About Barstools

Barstools are more than just a place to sit at your home bar; they are an easy way to add comfort and style to your home. While public bar seating may be intentionally stiff to ward off nonpaying idlers, your bar and counter seating should make the environment more relaxing.

How do I pick the correct height barstool?

You will want the barstool to come close enough to the bar to be within reach, but allow enough space between the seat and the bottom of the bar or counter. Generally, there should be between 10 inches and 13 inches between the barstool seat and the bottom of the table. If your barstool comes with arms, make sure you factor this clearance in so they will still fit beneath the bar. Barstools come in a variety of heights and are even available in adjustable heights so you can find one to fit perfectly with your counter or table.

Short barstools are generally 22 inches or less. This stool is commonly used at a bathroom vanity or makeup table but may also be used for a shorter than normal table or counter.

Counter height barstools are usually 23 to 28 inches tall and are also called "counter stools". They work well with tables around 35 to 37 inches tall and most kitchen counters if space is limited.

Bar height stools are commonly 29 to 32 inches tall and work best with tables or bars that are 41-43 inches tall. This is the preferred stool for use in a family room or in a bar setting with a tall table or bar.

Extra Tall barstools, in general, are 33 inches and taller. They are known as spectator stools and are traditionally used with extra tall counters from 44 to 47 inches tall.

Adjustable barstools are also available if you need variation in the seat height and use. Usually adjustable barstools come with a metal hydraulic lift that allows you to decrease or increase the seat height accordingly.

How many barstools do I need?

This will depend on the size of your bar or counter. You’ll want to have about 6 inches of space between each barstool which will provide adequate spacing for people to eat, drink, and socialize. If the bar stool swivels, make sure you will have enough room for them to move freely. Barstools are usually sold individually but can be sold in sets of two or four.

The More You Know...

Bar stools come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, styles and seat heights. From contemporary to rustic, metal to bamboo, leather to bare wood, you've got a lot of features to choose from in your quest to find the perfect stool.

Bar stools

There has been evidence of stools throughout history, with the earliest surviving pieces dating back to the days of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (circa 2680 B.C.). They demonstrate basic woodworking skill, but as time progresses, so does the capacity for man to not only improve upon the most minimal of designs, but elaborate; sophisticated joints, veneering, the use of metals and precious stones and cushioning have changed the look and feel of stools a great deal since their first inception.

In modern times, barstools have been found used in pubs and bars, casinos, diners, gardens, patios and of course, homes! Versatile furniture for small areas, barstools can be an elegant piece for the garden table, a space saver in a cozy kitchen, or the perfect touch in a gentleman's den.

The proper choice of what is needed to suit your lifestyle can be all difference and this guide will help you to make a more informed decision.

What's Your Style?

The following will give you some information on the various styles the industry uses to describe its designs:

  •  • Casual: The key here is simple, with clean lines that can incorporate country aesthetics
  •  • Contemporary/Modern: Minimal, clean lines without much in the way of curvature; sleek!
  •  • Retro: Let's go to the Hop! 50s, 60s and 70s diners are terrific examples of this playful style.
  •  • Rustic: Distressed is the word du jour, evoking images of log cabins and summers by the lake.
  •  • Traditional: Hand-painted details, dark wood and curving lines are the hallmarks.

The Base-ics

You know where you want to put your barstool, the height you'll need and have an idea of what style is right for you, but perhaps you are feeling a bit inundated with where to start making choices? Why not begin with the base! Wood and metal are by far the most proliferate materials used, with a great deal of variation in both families. Some examples are as follows:

  •  • Aluminum: durability that lends a clean, contemporary look
  •  • Bamboo: not only a green product, but a highly workable one
  •  • Beech: fresh and cheerful, terrific for modern and casual design schemes
  •  • Cherry: a warm splash of color that can be used in both traditional and contemporary settings
  •  • Chrome: a must for any “diner” setting, pairs terrifically with bright colors
  •  • Rattan: a gorgeous, popular choice for outdoor use in drier climes
  •  • Wrought Iron: gardens and kitchens alike will benefit from the strength and beauty of iron

You will often find solid hardwood described for the material when browsing a website for barstools. Hardwood is a higher density wood, and those most commonly used in furniture production are oaks, beech, ash, maple, and cherry. More exotic hardwoods are holly, ebony, mahogany, boxwood, lauan and teak. Because hardwood joinery is more expensive than softwood, many companies will offer a “veneer” finish, which is a thin slice of wood that is glued onto core panels of a more cost-effective material like particle board or fiberboard.

Seat of Power

So you've decided what sort of base you want, but now it's time to ponder comfort and more... top-level aesthetics. The actual seat of a barstool can be pared down to a few choices: base material (that is to say, no padding), leather, vinyl and fabric. It is important to keep in mind the setting for your seating! Are you more comforted by the solid feel of a bare wood or metal? Would you rather the singular aroma of a well-treated leather seat? Perhaps something bright, floral and cheery would fit the bill in the form of a calico print fabric – or is a durable, weather-proof canvas weave more suitable to your needs?

Whatever the choice, you're sure to find plenty of options no matter where you look, as this is perhaps the best way for a piece to express itself against the interior of your home... or quietly blend into its surroundings.

What is a “memory swivel”?

A barstool with “memory swivel” or “return swivel” is a barstool that will swivel but always returns to the same position when a person leaves the stool. Most memory swivel barstools only rotate 180 degrees.

Swivel barstools frequently swivel 360 degrees, but this may vary depending on the specific barstool. The rotation will be specified in each product description.

Outdoor Barstools

Weather may be the first consideration when it comes to buying an outdoor barstool. Make sure you research the weather in your area and buy barstools that will fit with that weather.

Can a leather barstool survive outside in the hot, baking sun? Sure. So can a goldfish - for a little while.

Luckily, there's no need to test the durability of either out in the elements because there are plenty of manufacturers that specialize in outdoor seating, and outdoor barstools in particular. Many produce styles in materials common to the outdoor-furniture trade like wood, wicker and wrought iron.

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