Projects & Improvements

“Counter Height” Is Your Must-Know Number if You’re Planning a Kitchen Redo

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Renovating a kitchen is an exciting time as you pick out flooring, scour websites for faucet ideas, and add color-inspiration pictures to your Pinterest boards to create a personalized space. However, during the process, you may encounter a few home terms that your contractor or interior designer often uses that leave you scratching your head. A couple such terms? “Counter height” and “bar height.”

Quick Overview

What is Counter Height?

“Counter height” is between 34 inches and 36 inches high. Most counters in kitchens and bathrooms are counter height. “Bar height” is taller, at about 42 inches high.

If you’re working on a kitchen remodel, it’s crucial that you know the difference between these two terms. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a space that doesn’t fit your needs, if you opt for something that’s counter height when you really mean bar height (or vice versa). Here’s what design experts say you should know about counter height, bar height, and when to use which.

What is counter height?

According to Ollie Glasgow, an expert in the kitchen worktops industry, counter height generally ranges between 34 inches and 36 inches, depending on the application. That height is the measurement between the floor and the top of the countertop.

A counter-height stool will have a seat that is 22 to 26 inches high.

Counter height is best ergonomically for most body types to do different tasks while standing, such as preparing food in the kitchen or using your bathroom to get ready for the day. And what about heights that fall outside that range? “Anything lower falls in the table height range, and anything higher is considered bar height,” Glasgow says.

Credit: Natalie Jeffcott

When should you use counter height?

Counter height is typically used for workspace areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Architect Ladina Schöp relays that the concept originated with the need for comfortable, efficient work areas based on ergonomic principles. “It provides a comfortable and ergonomic working surface, reducing strain on the back and arms,” she says.

Although the term is generally used in design, construction, and real estate to ensure aesthetically pleasing, functional spaces, it’s also become familiar with homeowners as understanding increases about the phrase. Counter height includes clear counter space and areas that cover appliances, such as the dishwasher, meaning that commonly used countertop items, such as a toaster or utensils, are within easy reach for users.

Credit: Lula Poggi

What is bar height?

Bar height is taller than counter height, typically coming in at 42 inches tall. If you’re shopping for an area of your kitchen that has bar-height counters, you’ll need to look specifically for bar-height stools to accommodate them.

A bar-height stool will have a seat that is usually 29 to 30 inches high.

What is table height?

Table height is lower than typical counter height, coming in at 28 to 30 inches. A table-height seat will be 18 to 23 inches high.

Should you use bar height or counter height for dining?

Designer Alexa d’Argencé​​​​ says that if you want to add dining space within your kitchen, extending your counter height space flows more naturally. “It’s much more pleasant than the disjointed effect that happens when you tack on a bar height,” she says. Although you can add a bar height space, it’s best to do it separately instead of placing it along the same line as your countertop. 

D’Argencé’s clients also enjoy perching at a lower counter dining height versus the higher bar height, which is another reason she suggests simply extending your counter space. However, this will also impact the type of chairs you need for that extra dining space. “Just be aware that you will need a shorter counter-height stool to go with this dining height,” she adds. Fortunately, counter-height stools are becoming increasingly easier to find.

When is it okay to veer away from counter height?

Besides the aforementioned bar height, there are other instances where it’s acceptable to veer away from the standard for various reasons. For example, taller individuals may find that counter height causes them to bend over too much, so a heightened countertop would be more practical. Contractors can also customize a lower counter height to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

If you need to raise or lower your countertops, do what’s best for you and your lifestyle. “The flexibility to tailor counter height based on specific requirements ensures maximum comfort and accessibility,” adds Schöpf. Although resale value may be a consideration for some, having a personalized home that will make you more comfortable is sensible and will help create a space you enjoy long-term.