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Bar Stool Basics: A Bar Stool Buying Guide

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Have you ever sat down at a bar and thought, "Wow, these bar stools are uncomfortable"? If so, chances are that "comfort" was not too high on the bar's list of priorities. Most bars tend to choose their bar stools based on both comfort and design aesthetic - a chic, downtown club, for instance might go with an uber-modern metal bar stool, while a cigar bar might go for a sophisticated leather bar stool. When shopping for your home bar, it's important that you take both comfort and style into consideration. Below you will find a list of "bar stool basics," meant to help you choose the best bar stools for your home bar.

  • Size Matters: This expression definitely holds water when it comes to bar stool buying. Choosing the right height for your bar stool is essential! First, think about your space. Are you outfitting a home bar, kitchen bar or counter bar? The height of your eating/drinking surface will help determine how tall your bar stool needs to be. A bar stool's height is determined by the stool's seat height, not the total height. This will help ensure that the legs will fit under the table. A couple of things to keep in mind - counter height seats are typically between 24" and 26" high, while bar height seats are between 30" and 32" high.

  • Showcase Your Personal Style: Your decor style really does say something about your personality and personal style. If you're a big sports fan, for instance, consider purchasing a bar stool with your favorite NBA, NFL or NCAA team's logo on the seat. If you prefer a modern or contemporary design style, then opt for something sleeker, made out of stainless steel or aluminum. Bar stools exist in nearly every style imaginable. From traditional wood bar stools, complete with ornate detailing or carving, to retro backless bar stools, like something you'd see in a 50s-style diner.

  • Fully Loaded or Bare Bones: After you've decided on height and style, it's time to think about what features you want with your stools. Swivel or stationary? Upholstered or not? You can also choose a bar stool with arms, with a back or one designed especially for outdoor use. Deciding what features you want for your bar stools should be determined by expected use and by cost. If you expect to use your bar stools for entertaining, then it's important that they be comfortable and have some sort of a swivel function, making them more conversation-accessible. Cost also plays into what features you choose for your bar stools - for instance, a leather upholstered bar stool will be more expensive then one upholstered with vinyl.

A good bar stool for your home bar will be the perfect blend of both form and function. Don't settle on an ugly stool just because it's comfy, and on the same note, don't purchase a super stylish but otherwise painful-to-sit on bar stool just because it complements your decor. Take some time and do your research before shopping. Give yourself a budget and have some idea of what style and features you are looking for. Remember, your home bar is supposed to be a social space so it's OK to have a little fun here, as long as you don't break the bank in the process.

 
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