How To Pick Barstools & Counter Stools
01/21 Design Tips

How To Pick Barstools & Counter Stools

Our simple, step by step guide

Picking barstools and counter stools can be tricky, and we get countless questions about how to do it right.

Truthfully, there are a lot of guides out there on how to choose the right height and style of barstools and counter stools. But, in our opinion, the hardest part about picking barstool and counter stool isn't measuring, but knowing what will work well in your kitchen.

So, we decided to spill a few of our secrets to create a simple, step-by-step guide with tips from our design team! Nevertheless, here is our comprehensive guide to picking the right barstools and counter stools:


First, let’s cover the basics. “What is the difference between counter stools and barstools?”

Counter stools are used under countertops, measuring at a standard of 34-39 inches, and barstools are used under bars, measuring at a standard of 42 inches.

The standard counter stool height is 24-29 inches tall, allowing it to fit directly underneath the countertop. The standard barstool height is 29-32 inches.

Although, of course, there are exceptions, typically, any barstools or counter stools at standard heights should fit under any bars or countertops at standard heights.

Once you measure your countertop or bar, double check the measurements of the stool you are looking at to make sure it falls under the standard sizing.

How To Pick The Right Barstools & Counter Stools


When we’re picking barstools or counter stools for our clients, we always talk to them about function.

“Think about how you will use the stools in your home. If our client wants more flexibility, we use a swivel stool or a backless stool. If they’re prioritizing comfort, we look at stools with arms or upholstery.” - Kelsie Lindley, designer.

There are many reasons to choose one type of stool over another. Some of our clients with little kids want to avoid swivel or backless stools, while others want to be able to move them throughout their home for multiple uses. Whatever your reasoning, make sure you love the function of your stools just as much as you love how they look! After all, chances are you’ll be using them every day!

From our SM Ranch House.

From our SM Ranch House.

From The McGee home.

From The McGee home.


Although this is the most fun part, it can also be the trickiest. Like so much in interior design, there are countless ways to think about the “right” way to do something. When it comes to choosing barstools or counter stools, that couldn’t be truer.

What works well is so dependent on the style of your kitchen. It’s hard to put our finger on what we “always do,” when picking barstools and counter stools, (or anything for that matter) but here are a few things our design team recommends:

From our Cabin on the Lake .

From our Cabin on the Lake.

Try juxtaposing styles

We are all about a good dichotomy, especially when it comes to kitchen design.

“In a lot of instances, we contrast more traditional spaces with modern pieces. Of course, there are cases where we’ll do a traditional stool in a traditional kitchen, but we love the way different styles balance each other out to create interest. Say, for example, your kitchen is traditional in shape, style, and elements; adding a modern, iron stool can change the entire space.” - Kelsie Lindley, designer.

From our Northridge Remodel.

From our Northridge Remodel.

Contrast your colors 

"We typically avoid doing the entire stool in the same or similar color as the island so that it doesn't get lost. If you have a black island, a stool with white oak elements will look more balanced than one that’s dark throughout, etc.” - Kelsie Lindley, designer.

From our Calabasas Remodel.

From our Calabasas Remodel.

Add texture

We've said it before, and we'll say it again, but texture is crucial in creating interest! When we started designing products at McGee & Co., one of our goals was to elevate pieces with texture for an unexpected twist on the usual. Barstools and counter stools provide the perfect opportunity to bring an interesting element to the kitchen, so we say, go for it!

How To Pick The Right Barstools & Counter Stools
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stool of the moment

It’s hard to pick favorites, but lately, we’re pointing towards our Eloise Woven Chair. We just launched this design in a counter stool size at McGee & Co. and our whole team is trying to snag it before it’s gone. This stool blends modern with traditional, interest with simplicity, and form with function. In other words, it does it all. We loved it so much when the McGee's put the dining chair version in their new home; we had to have more. You can shop it now here!

More counter stools we love

Some of our favorite barstools