Three stools nestled into a kitchen island

The difference between counter height and bar height

If you’re remodeling your kitchen or designing a new one from top to bottom, you may run into some confusion when choosing between counter and bar height for your kitchen island. Either can be used for seating, however, the different heights offer varying benefits when it comes to style and functionality.

Use this guide to compare the common kitchen island heights to help you determine the option that fits best with your family’s lifestyle.

Side-by-side image of counter and bar height measurements Side-by-side image of counter and bar height measurements

Counter height vs. bar height measurements

Bar height surfaces are typically between 41-43" tall, whereas counter height sits six inches lower, usually between 35-40". Islands at bar height are usually a few inches too tall to conveniently use as additional work space, while counter height surfaces typically sit at a natural working height.

What is the standard kitchen island height?

On average, kitchen islands are standard counter height, usually around 36 inches tall. This is likely because counter height surfaces typically allow you to use the space to prepare your meals with your family sitting comfortably around the island.

However, some kitchen island designs offer dual-height surfaces that combine counter and bar height to separate the workstation from the seating area. This can provide a versatile space for both meal preparation and cozy family gatherings.

Choosing the right kitchen island height

The ideal height for your kitchen island depends on your family's lifestyle and personal preferences. To help you with your decision, explore the following tips for choosing counter height vs. bar height.

  • If your kitchen is the hub for after-school homework sessions or family parties, you may want to consider a bar height island. This height works as a partition that allows you to chat with your guests without them crowding your workstation.

  • For homes with younger kids, a counter height island may be the right choice. Counter height stools are shorter than bar stools, making them more accessible to shorter people.

  • Opting for counter height is a smart choice if you plan on installing a cooktop in your kitchen island. It provides a practical elevation, keeping the burners at a natural height.

  • If your family is on the taller side, bar height counters and seating may be more comfortable and practical compared to counter height.
  • For smaller kitchens with limited counter space, a counter height island offers more practical workspace, as it sits at a natural working height.

Kitchen counter height for tall people

For families with taller members, bar height counters and kitchen islands could be more suitable as work surfaces compared to standard counter heights. Standard counter height measurements only consider the average person’s height, which may make them slightly too short for taller individuals.

Two stools at a kitchen island Two stools at a kitchen island

How to select the right counter stool height

Finding the right stools for your kitchen island requires an understanding of counter vs. bar height and counter vs. bar stool height. To help provide ample leg space and comfort, counter stools are generally between 24-27" tall, and bar stools are often between 28-33" tall.

Standard counter height 35-40″
Counter stools 24-27″
Bar height 41-43″
Bar stools 28-33″

Explore Whirlpool® Cooktops for a kitchen island counter

With a Whirlpool® Cooktop built into your kitchen island, you can streamline your kitchen and centralize your cooking and preparation space. Whether you choose gas, electric or induction, Whirlpool brand has cooktop options designed to help prepare your family’s favorite meals.

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