When selecting furniture, we tend to get excited about finding the right look for a space and happily pin all our favorites only to remember right before heading to the store (or hitting that ‘add to cart’ button) that we forgot a very important consideration- scale! Or more specifically, seat height.

We talked about scale in a Professor Rue long ago, but today we’re really going to get into the details of seat height for chairs and stools. After all, asking a guest to sit on a chair that is too high or low for the table won’t encourage them to leisurely enjoy a long meal. So how high should a seat be? In short, it’s all dependent on the table or counter height.

For a dining chair, the standard is 18” for a table that is 28-30.” Unless the table is on the high side and has very thin top, stick to the 18” height, but chairs and low stools can be found with seat heights up to 22”. If you do have a higher table or have fallen in love with a unusually proportioned chair, purchase just one to try it out with your table and have all your family members see if the pair are comfortable together.

At 24-27”, stools have officially transitioned to being counter stools and will work for counters 35-39”, the typical range for kitchen counters. Many versions of stools come in both counter and bar height (28-30”) which are designer for 41-43” tables. This is the size you’ll often see at bars and as restaurant ‘hi-tops’ tables. Occasionally, you’ll run into an extra tall height bar or table at 44-47”. If so, select a 33-36” stool.

Along with choosing a stool in the proper height for a comfortable seat, you’ll also need to select how many stools to fit in a space. Around a square table, the answer may be easy, but sometimes it’s difficult to choose if a kitchen counter should have three or four stools. Your answer may depend partially on your needs, but also consider how much space you have. For a narrow stool (16-18” seat), allow 22” of space per stool. For a stool with a wide base, say 19-22”, then increase that to 24-25” of space. Add additional space if stools have arms or swivel. Once you know your spacing and seat height requirements, all that is left is finding the perfect style!