Kitchen Seating Options

Finally… a blog with mostly just a ton of pictures in it! Don’t worry, we will guide you through them, but it’s almost a holiday weekend so we want to help you relax some. What better way to do that than get some kitchen inspiration?! Today we are focusing on some kitchen seating options and quickly reviewing some of the things to consider for each. Ready? Let’s go!

Bar Height – Linear

As you might imagine, bar height is similar to what you may find at a bar. It is raised from a standard 36″ height – usually around 42″ above the floor. Biggest pro? It hides anything you have behind it, like a sink piled high with dirty dishes. Biggest con? More corners and surfaces to clean/maintain. Here you see we put a raised wood bar height counter at a wet bar in the clients’ home. Perfect for easy serving. The seats are in a linear fashion, so easy to chat with your bartender!

Counter Height – Linear

Now take that same concept – lined up chairs/stools – and lower it about 6″ or so. Voila! Counter height seating. The biggest advantage is having a single surface to clean. It also is a much cleaner and streamlined look. You do need to mind the overhang though. Lowering your bar means you need more knee space. A good rule of thumb is adding 3″ of knee space for every 6″ that you get lower to the floor. But, this is the most common kitchen seating install we get asked for and design.

Counter Height – Conversational

But what if I want to talk to the people seated with me? A linear situation will only work for two, maybe three people maximum. But after that, it’s hard to hold a conversation with your friends. Why? Imagine being the person in the middle turning their head back and forth every other sentence. Call your chiropractor! For people who truly entertain, a more conversational space works better, and you can do this at any counter height! This means either curving your counter or having some guests sit around a corner. Check out this four-person conversational setting in the kitchen below.

Table Height / Built-in – Linear

We’ve done bar height and counter height, but a true table height drops another 6″ or so. Think of a dining room table. It’s probably only around 30″ high, and so this is also the most comfortable seated level for people. Why? This height is usually low enough that most guests can keep their feet flat on the floor. That being said, you want to make these seats the most comfortable. Below we have a simple banquette on the back of the kitchen island. Again, this seating is linear so they had to add additional chairs in the room to make it more friendly for conversations.

Table Height / Built-in – Conversational

And below is our award-winning banquette! This takes the idea of a conversational space and drops it down to our table height. We still integrated the built-in into the kitchen island, but the shape allowed us to perfectly build around a 42″ table. So, instead of just four people – like our counter height conversational space – the counter surface is able to be used from all sides. This means that we can seat anywhere from six to eight people at this rounded table, perfect for larger gatherings. We imagine this being the most perfect “kids table” at your next Thanksgiving feast.

Table Height / Separate

We don’t want to forget that you can always go back to kitchen seating basics. Maybe you have a longer kitchen space, but don’t need all of that to be kitchen/cabinet space. Simply leave enough walking space for a small breakfast table. The best part? You can always change this out later, or get a table with a leaf to extend for your larger gatherings. As a note, we recommend leaving at least 44″ of space from the table to a “tall object” like a wall or cabinet. This will allow people to easily walk around the table without hitting the seated person. This option does take up the most amount of floor space because of that, but that’s really the only con we can think of.

Single Zone – Dual Height

Here’s where we start getting fancy by incorporating more than one option for those wishing to sit. Here, we have created two different heights on a single island. Why? Counter height is great for all of the things mentioned above, but this client wanted a lower height option for smaller children. Usually, bar stools are too hard for them to get up into, so a standard table height option is best. It also means less potential of falling to the ground, so it can be a safety concern as well. Lower heights are also ADA friendly, so are perfect for those with physical disabilities that may need something catered for them. The big pro for these being on the same island? Everyone, regardless of where they sit, will easily be able to converse with one another since they are placed in an L-shaped format.

Dual Zone – Dual Height

Lots of guests? Need more options? Trying to space things out more? Take the same idea of having two (or more) seated counter heights and separate them. This kitchen has a raised counter for guests to use while cooking so they can stay out of the chef’s way. It’s also great for serving drinks and appetizers at the start of an event and hides the main sink from the view of the living room. However, there is also a multifunctional table height counter inside of the kitchen space. This can be used as a makeshift home office (shout out to COVID-19 and all of the Shelter-In-Place orders right now), a lowered prep surface for shorter cooks, or overflow seating for larger parties.

Dual Zone – Single Height

And finally, if you don’t want to sacrifice your standard kitchen seating counter height, you don’t have to. Say you have a similar situation to the clients below. Your island isn’t quite big enough to seat four people like you noted on your kitchen wish list (that we know you have all written up by now) but you want options. The two seats on the main island in the kitchen don’t take up a ton of storage or counter space and allows you to sit and read through a recipe comfortably. The peninsula on the other side can sit three to four additional people, perfect for gatherings and serving. Keeping everything at one height doesn’t give you as much user flexibility, but definitely gives you the cleanest look. And, something you may not have thought about: it makes it easier to shop for matching stools!

Are you inspired? Thinking about switching up your kitchen seating during your next remodel? We also recommend checking out our Countertop Overhangs 101 and these Cozy Breakfast Nooks for some more ideas.