Shopping for Kitchen Stools – The New York Times

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The stool has become an integral part of many kitchens — whether it’s pulled up at an island, a peninsula or a high cafe table.

“So many people have that open floor plan, with the kitchen island and a great room,” and the previously separate functions of cooking, living, entertaining and working blur together, said Kate Lester, an interior designer in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

That means whichever stools you buy have to be multifunctional and look good enough to be part of your living space.

Most are available in two heights, Ms. Lester said — counter height and bar height — so measure carefully when you’re choosing. Counter stools usually have a seat height of 24 to 27 inches and are intended to be used under a standard kitchen counter that’s about 36 inches high; bar stools have a seat height of about 28 to 30 inches, to work with a higher counter of about 40 to 42 inches.

“Don’t make the rookie designer mistake,” Ms. Lester said, of ordering the wrong size. “I’ve had to cut down the legs on bar stools before. You can do it, but I don’t recommend it.”

  • Should your kitchen stools be upholstered? Upholstery offers comfort but is harder to clean. “If you do a leather, or a treated or outdoor fabric, it’s going to give you more longevity” than other fabrics, Ms. Lester said.

  • How many stools do you need? “People always try to squeeze more people in there than you can comfortably,” she said. “Start with two or three and see how it feels. You can always add more.”

  • Should they have backs? For stools that will be used frequently, Ms. Lester prefers a model with a back, for support. But a backless model is good, she said, “when space is key and you want to tuck it all the way under the overhang.”

Steel stool with walnut seat

From $599 at Greta de Parry: 800-494-0956 or

Painted wood stool by Stine Aas

From $450 at Dims:

Walnut and leather stool with back and swivel function

From $719 at Rejuvenation: 888-401-1900 or

Powder-coated steel stool with back, with optional upholstery

From about $450 at Menu:

Iron stool with leather seat

From $275 at Jayson Home: 773-248-8180 or

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