Useful for both commercial seating and home furnishing, bar stools can offer a fresh alternative to more traditional seating arrangements. Bar stools are available in a wide variety of styles and materials, making it easy for the individual consumer to find a set that matches his or her needs.
The first thing to consider when choosing bar stools is the height of the stool. While stools are manufactured in a variety of heights, the most common choices are labeled "bar height" or "counter height." Bar height stools typically have seats that are 30 inches (76.2 cm) high for use with a 40 to 42 inch (101.6 to 106.8 cm) tabletop, while counter height stools measure 24 inches (60.9 cm) for use with a 36 inch (91.4 cm) tabletop.
The most basic kind of bar stool is the artist's stool. Traditionally used to accommodate artists or drafters as they work, the artist's stool features a simple round seat mounted atop an adjustable stand. This type of stool offers the greatest range of motion, allowing the user to alternate between sitting, standing and leaning as needed. Backless bar stools are similar in style to artist's stools, but usually do not feature adjustable stands. Bar stools without backs are most convenient in smaller spaces, as they take up very little room and can be stored entirely underneath the tabletop when they are not being used.
Bar stools that are used for kitchen or counter seating may also feature a back for added comfort. Stools with backs are available with or without arm rests. However, it is important to remember that these types of stools are not as compact as their backless counterparts, and therefore may be less convenient if space is an issue.
Another common feature of barstools is the swivel top. Consumers can choose between 180 or 360 degrees of swivel. When choosing chairs with a swiveling top, remember to allow enough space between each stool to avoid cramping your guests.
Bar stools of any shape or size also come in a variety of materials. The frame and stool can be made out of metal or wood, and are offered in many different finishes in order to match just about any decor. Some bar stools are upholstered for added style and comfort. Upholstered bar seating is available in leather or cloth, and in a range of colors and patterns.
With the vast assortment of styles available in contemporary bar-type seating, it is not hard to find bar stools that fulfill your individual space and decoration preferences. As a general rule, remember to allow for at least 26 inches (66 cm) of space between each stool in order to comfortably accommodate your guests.