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When it comes to designing your kitchen, the kitchen island is often the centerpiece of the room. It’s where you prepare food, entertain guests, and even eat meals.

Choosing the right stools or chairs for your kitchen island is just as important as selecting the countertops or oven hood. Not only do they need to be comfortable, but they should also complement the overall style of your kitchen.

Before you start shopping for kitchen island chairs, it’s important to know the measurements you need to consider. The size of your kitchen island will determine how many chairs you can fit and what size they should be.

rattan counter height stools at a blue kitchen island

The average kitchen island size is around 40 by 80 inches, but you should also consider the space around the island for easy movement. When selecting chairs, the height, width, and depth of the seat are important factors to consider for comfort.

However, choosing kitchen counter stools isn’t as simple as just picking your favorite. So today I’m sharing some tips on how to choose the best chairs or stools that will work for your kitchen island, with beautiful designs for every budget.

Seating Options for Kitchen Islands

When it comes to choosing seating for your kitchen island, there are a few options to consider. The most common options are stools and chairs, but the type of seating you choose will depend on your personal preference and the size of your island.

three white and wood island chairs at a white kitchen island.
Riviera Rattan counter stools at Serena & Lily


Stools are a popular choice for kitchen islands because they take up less space than chairs and can be easily tucked away when not in use. They also come in a variety of styles and heights, so you can find the perfect match for your island. When choosing stools, consider the following:

  • Height: Stools come in different heights, so make sure you choose the right height for your island. If your island has a bar-height countertop, you’ll need stools that are about 28 to 30 inches tall. If your island has a standard-height countertop, you’ll need stools that are about 24 to 26 inches tall.
  • Elbow room: Make sure there’s enough space between each stool so people can sit comfortably and move their arms without bumping into each other.
  • Number of stools: The number of stools you can fit at your island will depend on its size. As a general rule, you should allow about 24 inches of space per stool.


Chairs are another option for kitchen islands, and they can provide a more formal look than stools. However, chairs take up more space than stools, so they may not be the best choice if you have a small island. When choosing chairs, consider the following:

  • Height: Chairs should be about the same height as stools, so make sure you choose the right height for your island.
  • Style: Chairs come in a variety of styles, so choose a style that complements your kitchen decor.
  • Number of chairs: The number of chairs you can fit at your island will depend on its size. As a general rule, you should allow about 24 inches of space per chair.

Bar Seating

If you have a large kitchen island and want to create a bar seating area, you’ll need to choose stools that are about 28 to 30 inches tall.

You’ll also need to make sure there’s enough space between each stool so people can sit comfortably and move their arms without bumping into each other.

Measurements You Need to Know

Counter Height vs Bar Height Stools

Not sure which size you should get?

natural rattan swivel chairs at a gray kitchen island.
Avalon Rattan Swivel Bar & Counter Stool from Serena & Lily

Counter height stools vary in height from 24-26 inches, which is the appropriate height for standard counter height of 35 or 36 inches. I know what you’re thinking – why are they not a standard height? I don’t know, but I wish everything was a standard height because it would make decisions a lot easier!

Bar stools on the other hand, are much taller at about 28 to 30 inches, to fit comfortable at a bar that’s 40 to 42 inches off the ground.

How Do I Choose the Right Height For My Kitchen Island Stools?

To choose the right height for your kitchen island stools, measure the height of your island from the floor to the top. Then subtract 10-12 inches to determine the ideal height. This will allow for enough legroom and comfortable seating.

It’s important to note that counter-height stools typically have a seat height of around 24-26 inches, while bar height stools have a seat height of around 28-30 inches.

Counter Stool Width

Whether you’re looking to purchase a chair or a stool for your island, the width greatly varies – anywhere from 18 to 24 inches wide is pretty standard.

Ideally, you’ll want about 8-10 inches between chairs or stools so that they can easily be pulled out for people to comfortably get in and out.

Experts say that you need between 24 and 30 inches per person at the island to sit comfortably. To easily calculate how many counter stools will fit, just measure the total length of your island in inches, and divide it by 24 (if necessary, round your answer down). The answer is how many stools will fit comfortably at your island.

three island counter stools with text overlay showing the width between chairs at a kitchen island.

The chairs that I chose for my island, the Serena & Lily Balboa Counter Stools are on the narrower end, at less than 18 inches.

This will allow for 3 chairs across my 90 inch kitchen island (with an 83″ nook for seats), with plenty of space on each side for maneuverability and ease of access to the island.

Balboa counter stools at kitchen island.
Balboa Counter Stools

Kitchen Counter Stools Under $300

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a designer look! All of these counter stools are under $300, with several less than $200 a piece. I mostly included counter stools with backs since that’s what most people are looking for.

collage of counter stools under $300.

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 //11

High End Counter Stools

If you have a larger budget, then some of these counter stools will be a beautiful addition to your kitchen. Most also come in bar stool height.

collage of high end counter stools.

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10

Counter Stools Should Be Part of Your Kitchen Design

Your choice of counter stools should be an intentional part of your design. For my mostly white kitchen, it was important for me to bring in warmth through natural wood tones and brass. The rattan of the Balboa Counter Stools has both, so they were an instant winner for me.

If you want a more traditional look, you may consider a painted or upholstered chair. If you like to tie in a modern look, the leather or woven leather is a great look. Natural wood is perfect for a farmhouse style kitchen, and the rattan and woven Parisian style chairs and stools have a coastal vibe.

Other Considerations Before Purchasing

Think about what you’re going to be using the kitchen island for, and who will be sitting there the most.

If you have little kids, backless stools will not be ideal. Chairs with a back and maybe even sides would be a better option.

Likewise if you have older kids doing homework at the island or you think you may use it as a workspace.

Don’t forget to think about the materials of the chairs, too. I made sure to get chair cushions that are stain resistant (little kids!). If your kids are particularly messy, you may need to forego cushions altogether and opt for wipeable painted wood chairs.

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One Comment

  1. Another important factor in choosing barstools is the weight that the chair can safely hold. My son is 6’7 330 pounds. The chair needs to be beautiful and sturdy.
    Thank you for all of your ideas.