How to choose kitchen island seating – types, materials, buyer’s guide

by Kremy

What do you need to know before you buy the best kitchen island seating? How to select the proper stools? What are the types, materials and considerations that you should keep in mind? Keep reading and find the answers of these questions below.

A kitchen island is without any doubt convenient, practical and functional piece of furniture. Very often it serves not only as an additional surface, but also as a bar counter and a dining table. With the growing popularity of open plan living space, the kitchen island is used to separates the living area from the kitchen itself. It is often a focal point and that is why choosing the right seating is so important.

red kitchen stools color accent

Kitchen island seating should be comfortable and functional. When selecting your seating you have two ways – to choose a model that will match the style and color palette of the finished room, or create an accent using bar stools that are different in color and style. The market offers a huge variety of bar stools which differ in construction, material, color, texture, size and design. It is easy to get confused in the plethora of models. Of course, your goal is to choose pieces of furniture that will faithfully serve your family for more than one year, will fit perfectly into the interior of the kitchen and delight family members and guests with their appearance and convenient functionality.

How to choose kitchen island seating – buyer’s guide tips

withe kitchen design island with bar stools


When you look for kitchen island seating you need to keep in mind a few criteria. Yes, the market offers a huge variety of models and you can find thousands of photos on the Internet, yet you need to find chairs or stools that are perfect for your kitchen and meet your personal needs. Here is a short list of the most important features that you need to consider:

  • material – the choice of material will depend on the style of the kitchen space, your personal preferences and financial capabilities.
  • upholstery – fabric, leather, etc.
  • color – it all depends on whether you want the chairs to blend with the general color scheme of the room or to serve as an accent. For example, the base of the chair or the upholstery can be strikingly different in color.
  • height – if the selected model is not adjustable in height, then this factor can play a decisive role when choosing pieces of furniture specifically for your kitchen and bar counter or kitchen island. seat size – it all depends on the average size of the bodies of your household and the amount of time you plan to spend at the counter. If all residents are large enough, and the bar counter will be used not only for short meals (for example, breakfast), in this case, models with large seats, with a backrest and, possibly, armrests should be preferred.

kitchen island with seating buyers guide

  • comfort – if comfort is key, look for soft chairs. A comfy bar stool is essential if you use them in the dining area or workplace. An uncomfortable chair is unlikely to be used often, it is difficult to sit on it for a long time and relax enough. If you like a chair with a hard seat, you can purchase cushions in matching style and color.
  • footrest – it is more practical to choose bar stools with footrests. It can be uncomfortable to sit in a chair where your legs dangle. The footrests make the chairs more comfortable and functional.
  • Construction and design matter greatly. As far as support is concerned, a four-legged chair is the best option as it is stable, reliable and comfortable. One leg models are considered a true classic. In case that is your choice, make sure you buy a model with a wide base, the larger its diameter, the better. Chairs on three legs are rarely stable yet it depends on the location of the legs. It is recommended to test the chair in the store before buying as you may be unpleasantly surprised later.

What are the most popular types of bar stools?

best kitchen island seating tips materials construction

Bar stools are no longer only high-legged models. To meet different needs, manufacturers offer bar stools in various configurations. They can be divided into the following types:

Backless or low back bar stools (with a small backrest of up to 18cm/8 inches) – they have a simple design, take up a minimum of space and can be pushed under the counter of the kitchen island. Backless stools are a great option when there is little space in the kitchen. They are perfect for short snacks or for a cup of coffee in the morning but inconvenient to sit for a long time.

Mid-height backrest stools (models with backrests between 18-27cm/ 8-12 inches) provide more comfortable seating as the back receives some support, but still not so comfortable that you can work for several hours.

High-backed chairs (with backs between 28-60cm/ 12-25 inches) offer the comfort of a regular regular dining chair and best spine support. Such models are ideal if the kitchen island is used for full meals or for working with a laptop. They take up more space but can be a great focal point.

How to choose kitchen island seating bar stool materials

Bar stools with armrests provide exceptionally comfortable seating. The armrests help maintain a better posture and you will not lean towards the counter if sitting for a long time. Keep in mind that such models are wider and take up more space than models without armrests.

Bar stools with footrests – it seems that the footrest is not a necessity, but in fact, it is extremely important for a bar stool. The convenience of the chair will be reduced if the person has nowhere to put their feet. The same applies if the footrest is uncomfortable, too low or too high. In addition, a footrest helps maintain correct posture. The ideal position of a footrest allows you to keep your legs at an angle of just under 90 degrees.

stone kitchen island with stools

Fixed height stools or adjustable height stools? Obviously, fixed height stools cannot be adjusted to the height of your kitchen island counter. This means that you should be very careful when measuring the heights of both counter and stools. The ability to adjust the height of the bar stool allows you more flexibility.

Swivel bar stools offer the advantage of easy getting into and out. This type of chairs allows the seat to rotate which makes conversations easier. However, these stools are heavier that models without swivel mechanism.

Upholstered kitchen island seating is the perfect choice if the counter is regularly used as a dining area. Such stools are very comfortable and add a touch of luxury to the overall interior design. When choosing the upholstery, make sure that it is durable and easy to clean.

How to choose kitchen island seating – bar stool dimensions

kitchen island with seating ideas bar stool dimensions

When investing in kitchen island seating, it is important to consider dimensions like counter height, leg room and the space around each seat. Before buying bar stools, ask yourself – what is your island used for? It is your usual dining place or working space? Do your kids do their homework there? Do you use the countertop for food preparation mainly? It is important to understand that the main function of the island will determine the type of seating that you need. The height of the kitchen island countertop will determine the height of your seating. How high should seating be? Bar stools come in different heights – short, counter or bar height as well as extra tall. Obviously, each height is designed for a different table height. Usually countertops are 36” high, but you may have a two-level island with a lower countertop with height of about 30 inches. To calculate the height of the seating, you need to measure the height of the countertop and keep in mind that there must be 10″ – 12″ between the bar stool seat and the bottom of the counter or table. Of course, an adjustable-height bar stool is always an option!

comfortable seating for kitchen island bar stool dimensions

Width and arm room are another important factors. Seat width determined the comfort of seating as well as the number of stools that you can fit into the available space. The most common bar stool widths are 15″, 17″, and 21″. Stools with arm rests will need more space than backless, armless stools.

Arm room is also hugely important. Experts recommend leaving 26″ – 30″ between the centers of each bar stool. This means that you will have about 6″ between each seat and that is the space that you need to comfortable get in and out of the seat. Keep in mind that wider stools will require more room between seats. For example, stools that are 19″ – 22″ wide will need 8″ – 10″ between them.

Leg room – you need to allow at least 12″ – 18″ of knee space between the chair’s edge and the countertop.

Bar stools material – choosing the best option for your interior style

modern kitchen island with bar stools

The choice of bar stool models is so wide that it will not be difficult to find the right option for our interior style. Of course, every style has its own characteristics and features, but there are always exceptions to any rule so if you feel that transparent acrylic chairs will look good in your traditionally styled kitchen, then go for it! Let’s have a look at the most popular bar stool materials.


How to choose kitchen island seating

Wood is a natural material that is pleasant to the touch. Wooden chairs are distinguished by their strength, durability, environmental friendliness and beautiful appearance. They are suitable for almost any decor style – classic, Provence, Scandinavian, rustic, etc. The market offers models from dense wooа varieties like oak, ash, beech which come with a relatively high price tag. Pine is a budget friendly option, but less durable. Wooden chairs rarely have a height adjuster, so the size must be determined very precisely.


How to choose kitchen island seating bar stool dimensions

Metal bar stools are, perhaps, the most durable, stable and functional models. The increased strength allows them to withstand active use and retain their aesthetic appearance for a long time. Metal does not break or deform and modern designs are distinguished by lightweight and mobility. Some models have height adjustment and swivel mechanism. These bar stools are easy to clean and maintain. You can choose from wrought iron to stainless steel, depending on the style of your interior.

Plastic and acrylic stools

How to choose kitchen island seating bar stool types

Plastic and acrylic stools are durable enough, original, lightweight and very easy to care for. They are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of colors. Transparent models look weightless and are perfect for small kitchens. The major disadvantage of plastic chairs is that they are not resistant to scratches and lose their appearance over time. In addition, their load bearing capacity is limited.

Wicker and rattan

Natural rattan bar stools kitchen island seating ideas

Chairs made of wicker or rattan are lightweight, aesthetically pleasing and durable. They can be easily moved around the kitchen.

Combined materials

What are the most popular types of bar stools

About half of the bar stools on the market today are made of more than one material. This allows designers and manufacturers to take the best qualities of any material and produce furniture pieces that will meet all the requirements of functionality, safety and ergonomics. For example, chairs with a metal frame and wooden seats can decorate a kitchen designed in rustic, Industrial, traditional, modern style, etc.



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