Finding The Best Deals On Bar Stools

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Bar stools aren't just for bars anymore. Bar stools are essential furnishings for breakfast nooks and dining room overflow, for white board presentations and anytime you need to maximize seating at a counter.

Bar stools must conform to the physical dimensions of their occupants. Here are some parameters for buying bar stools:

  • Standard counters and bars are 34 to 39 inches high, so standard bar stools need to be 24 to 29 inches high. You and your guests will need at least 10 inches of clearance beneath the bar to sit comfortably. You want your guests to have some distance between their legs and the bar without sitting uncomfortably low. The Janinge bar stool from IKEA is a portable solution that you can use when bars have been set unexpectedly high or low. Priced at $99.99, it adjusts for counter heights from 35 3/8” up to 43 ¼".
  • Bar stools should be set out so their centers are 26 to 30 inches apart. You need a little less room (26 inches) if you are using armless bar stools, and a little more room (30 inches) if your bar stools have arm rest.
  • You will have fewer scratches on your floors if your bar stools can swivel so guests can get in and out of the stool. Placing bar stools on mat or carpet can also reduce floor scratches, but make sure the carpet or mat under the stool is secure so it will not slip.

Now that you know the essentials for choosing bar stools that will be functional for your family, here are five ways to work your bar and counter stool style.

Don't be afraid to mix up styles.

Modern bar stools usually come in a sleek, minimalist design. They may be stackable metal or clear acrylic. If your priority is easy maintenance, maybe clearing out space when breakfast has been served or when the bar is closed, you probably want modern bar stool design.

But traditional bar stool design presents many more aesthetic opportunities. Traditional bar stools come in finely polished wood or with comfortable cushions and upholstered back rests. They come in a lot more colors than just black and clear. You can mix colors to lighten the mood of a room for party, but to do that, you probably won't be buying your bar stools at Home Depot or Lowe's.

Arms or armless?

Some bar stools have arms. Some bar stools are armless. Arms add another two to three inches to the width of the stool. Arm rests are great for guests who are going to spend longer time at the bar, but armless stools make the bar look less cluttered, with maybe the ability to fit in another guest.

Choose bar stools to complement your kitchen cabinets.

If you are outfitting your breakfast bar, consider coordinating your bar stools with your kitchen cabinet design. The trend in cabinet design is to have most of the cabinets finished in one color, for instance, white, with one or two cabinets painted in another color, most often black or brown, but sometimes in pastels. If you are lining up four seats next to your breakfast bar, you can have two seats that are the same color as most of your kitchen cabinets, with seats on the ends that match the contrasting colors you used for your other kitchen cabinets.

Combine comfort and contrast in the same design.

Some bar stools have a rigid seating area. Some bar stools are cushioned for comfort. The material covering your padded or memory foam cushions and back rests can complement or contrast your design choices for the rest of the room. For instance, bonded leather plays up to the natural elegance of wood. Tweedy cloth upholstery for your bar stools can complement a mid-century modern motif. Steel complements tile. You can use "honest" natural materials to cover your bar stools that complement the rustic materials you use in the rest of the room.

Don't just think "bar stool." Go for "accent chair."

Leather or bonded leather upholstery adds warmth and richness to your counter or bar seating space. Dyed leather (for instance, ocean blue) brings color into neutral entertaining spaces. The color you use on your bar stools can pick up colors in lamps, drapes, vases, or dinnerware. Bar stools can set the mood for a party or for the room. Consider buying more than one set for all the occasions for which you entertain.

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