Counter Stool Dilemma

It seems like I have a lot of decorating dilemmas lately…

My latest dilemma involves the counter stools I mentioned in a recent post.

Wood counter stools at kitchen island


When I gave you a tour of my renovated kitchen, I mentioned that I still need to replace these temporary stools.  I just have not been able to commit to some permanent ones.

Besides my indecision, I also feel a bit limited in my stool choices.  Our island has a piece of trim below the counter top to give the island a more furniture look to it.  The problem is, the trim takes up valuable leg space between the stool and the counter top.

The temporary stools I have in there now are only 24 inches high and as you can see, there is just enough space now – but I really shouldn’t go any higher.  That really limits me.  Counter height stools generally range between 24-26 inches high but it seems like most of the ones I like are 26 inches.  I don’t want anyone to feel stuck when they sit at my counter!

I also can’t decide if I want to go backed or backless with the stools.  I have gotten so used to sliding these stools under the counter leaving plenty of place to stand.  I love that there are no backs in the way.

On the other hand, we planned our kitchen layout so we have plenty of room between the island and the fridge so it would never seem crowded.

The counter hangs over about 16 inches so most stools will fit underneath.  The only area we have to worry about is on the end of the counter where only one stool would sit.  There is only about a 10 inch overhang there due to my last minute panic to add floor space by the stove…

Oh yeah, and I didn’t even mention that I am still going back and forth on color!  It’s hard to match the color of the island so I am thinking possibly white stools…or maybe black…??

And then I have to consider the fact that I will be replacing the kitchen table and chairs!

Here is where I am at so far…

I talked to a sales person in Restoration Hardware and she suggested going with black to pick up on the black from the lighting.

I mentioned liking the Madeleine Stools but the seat was 26 inches high.  Too high – especially if I added a cushion down the road.  She suggested this combo…

The Trestle Table in black…

Restoration Hardware

Madeleine Side Chair…

Restoration Hardware

And for the counter stools, she suggested the Bennett cushioned stool with black legs and on of the natural ‘Perennial’ fabrics (which cleans easily).  This stool is 24 inches high.

Restoration Hardware

Here is how they would look with my counter.

I like this idea but I am not completely sold on so much black.  I don’t know if I like the black stools against the brown cherry island and I don’t know if I want all the black at the table.  I am afraid that combination will be too heavy with the rest of the kitchen being white.

Another combination would be to go with white counter stools like these Constance Stools from Ballard…

Ballard Designs

Their seat height is 24 3/4 inches so they would fit.  I ordered the chestnut stained one a few months ago but the color clashed with the island.  So now I am thinking white…or black?

Then I could go with a wood stained table and maybe chairs that would coordinate with the counter stools?  A company called Bermex that makes custom tables and chairs had some wood samples in a furniture store.  I brought in a piece of my island wood and found one that was very close…

So I am thinking of possibly matching the table to the island and doing different chairs…?  I don’t love the selection of chairs and counter stools that the company offers so I would probably just order the table from them.

I also found these cute stools on the Kirkland’s website.

They are 25 inches (but a little lower in the middle).  I visited their retail store to see if they had any to see in person.  They just had one with the blue leather in the store but I got to see the color of the wood.  It matched my island pretty well so I just ordered one of these with the ivory seat.  As soon as it comes, I will try it in my kitchen.  They are not expensive so I wonder how they would hold up…we’ll see.

I also like these from Crate and Barrel…

Crate and Barrel

The cushion would make them comfy but I don’t know…maybe I should go try these out…

Decisions, decisions….

So basically, I am looking for:

  • 4 counter height stools
  • 24 to possibly 25 inches for seat height
  • Needs to work with a cherry island (a browner cherry, not a red cherry)
  • Need to also consider what table and chairs would work in there.

Oh yeah, and painting or staining my existing table is out.  I thought of doing that but the table I have needs to be a little wider – like 42 inches wide.  The new light fixture I have in there is wider than the old one and we keep hitting our heads…ugh.

I know, too much info for one blog post but I am kind of thinking as I type!  And by the way, I am not being compensated in any way to mention these companies.  They are just examples to show you as I shop…

So, by looking at my kitchen and hearing my dilemmas, what kind of counter stool would you suggest?  I would love to hear your opinions!

Update – These are the stools I ended up purchasing!


Thanks and have a great day!


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  1. Hi Shelley, we have stools like the Kirkland one you're waiting for, but we ordered them locally. They were available in a few different wood stains and paint with leather colors in just about every color of the rainbow. They're very comfortable, but we don't use them everyday, so I can't say how they'd stand up to heavy use. Ours are sturdy and very well made. I'd bring as many different styles, sizes, shapes and colors of bar stools home from local stores as you can to try them out before ordering. And I think it's a good idea to think about how your table and chairs will look with the stools. A lot to consider! Good luck, I know whatever you choose will look fabulous.

  2. Hi Shelley… If you are going to use the stools/chairs a lot I recommend get some with backs on them. We bought a lot of stuff at RH and were so pleased with their service. We got kitchen chairs that complimented our counter chairs. You can see them on my Mass home tour. Your kitchen is positively gorgeous. I just sent your link to my sister because she is doing her kitchen over too. Enjoy your day!

  3. Hi Shelley… If you are going to use the stools/chairs a lot I recommend get some with backs on them. We bought a lot of stuff at RH and were so pleased with their service. We got kitchen chairs that complimented our counter chairs. You can see them on my Mass home tour. Your kitchen is positively gorgeous. I just sent your link to my sister because she is doing her kitchen over too. Enjoy your day!

  4. So funny that I'm working on a post about my bar stools. I painted my mismatched temporary stools and they looked awful so off to the Ballard's outlet I went and got a really good deal on three nice swivel stools. They were marked down to outlet prices plus 50% off. I had to get them. I would lean towards the color of the RH stool that you show and not black. I do like the idea of backless for yours to tuck under the counter. It just looks like they should be tucked under when not in use. I think dark ones will just be lost against the dark wood. I say natural or white.

  5. Have you considered cutting some of the leg off? I did this already for my pub table downstairs and it worked like a charm. Love the trestle table and as for the crate and barrel option, all I can say is, steel or metal is cold on the tush, hence I went with a plastic one. I think you have the breakfast table and chairs figured out, good luck with the stools shelley!

  6. I've got the same dilemma. I had two RH Madeline counter stools (black) and was considering painting them in the spring–then I thought about painting my dining room furniture black, so now I am totally confused. Decided to wait until I get to know the house a little better. BTW, the cushions for the Madeline are fairly flat, IMHO, but they may still be too high for your counter and trim. I almost ordered upholstered counter stools for the man cave bar, and then I realized that fabric wouldn't work with my DH and make him miserable (he's a human Saint Bernard).

  7. So many decisions, Shelley! Just love how your kitchen looks – so beautiful! I'm pondering on the choices, but think I would choose my table and chairs first then my stools. Happy Thursday!

  8. I love the look of the Kirkland stools. We have backed stools at our kitchen island since it's just the comfortable way for us to sit and eat there… we eat most of our meals there at the counter so comfort was totally necessary for us. Or for my husband I should say. XO Oh, and I live with a human St. Bernard also. LOL

  9. I know what you mean Shelley. We are remodeling our kitchen and the lower cabinets will be delivered next week, then the granite counter top. To date my biggest dilemma has been cabinet hardware. It took me weeks and dozens of samples to make that decision. Ugh! We have chosen counter stools in the same style as those you pictured from Kirklands. I have found it's not the big decisions that take the most time, it's the small things that make you lose sleep! Good luck in your quest to find the perfect counter stools, table and chairs for your home.

    1. I agree with you Jeannie! I have taken way less time choosing permanent fixtures in my home than I have with things like counter stools. Good luck finding your hardware. Enjoy your new kitchen!

  10. Check out Arteriors home I used semi backless ones for a client for the same reason and they worked well.

  11. We have some similar to the Kirkland ones, but ours are not cushioned & they are 29" tall & work perfectly at our counter-height island. If we used ours all the time, I would definitely go with the cushioned style. I like the backless, because it's so pretty to see the expanse of the island not interrupted. I think I would probably go with white to match your cabinets. Good luck!Carol

  12. How about a backless upholstered swivel stool. Bed, Bath and Beyond offers an array of choices. also in 24".

  13. I have to say I hate chairs/benches/stools without backs. They look pretty, but to sit in them for long stretches (say, while you are making dinner and I'm enjoying a glass of wine whilst watching you make dinner) is very uncomfortable. This is just in case one day I get to see this gorgeous kitchen in person:-)

  14. I am having the same issue. We built a lakeside cabin with white cabinets, white with faint light gray veined Quartz counters, white farmhouse sink, stainless appliances and stove hood, white glazed beveled subway style backsplash, lots of white but pretty and bright. I have looked at pale wood stools, stainless with leather seats, and every one you have looked at! I thought of backs for comfort but I plan to use the 9' island for buffet serving and in one house I was forever trying to find a corner for the stools. I sit more forward and don't lean back, but guests may want backs. I am buying 3 stools as I don't see 4 people ever lined up in a row. I have black accents on stainless appl. So think of black. Keep telling us what you decide and the thought behind your choice. Thanks.

  15. Oh, Shelley, your kitchen in just beautiful! I love the linen fabrics from RH. I think they would be a great fit. Thanks for sharing at the Creative Circle link party!

  16. Hey Sweet girl, Thanks for leaving me some comments. I did not read all all the comments above and if this was already mentioned disregard. I love your kitchen so much, anyways I like the natural linen color stools or a off white not creamy but more of a weather white/gray stool. Have you looked at World Market? They have tons of stools and great prices and they are nice quality. Even one that looks industrial would look good. Maybe I will find it on Pinterest and send to you. It's wood and black iron and no back I believe. Another idea is if a stool doesn't work you could always try trimming the legs with a saw. I know that sounds crazy but it may solve your issue with height. As far as tables, that's a tough one. Getting the right size is difficult and the right finish. RH is amazing but very expensive. Have you tried the PB Outlet or PB catalog?

  17. Beautiful kitchen! I like the Kirkland bar stools for your kitchen. They look to be the right height and I think they would be very complimentary. I have stools with backs and while there is plenty of room to get by them when they are pushed under it still feels tight to me because of the corner wall that is behind them. All of your choices will be very pretty. I am joining you from Inspire Me Tuesday.

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