Kitchen Stools

July 10, 2014

Barstool Treehouse3

Images and text by Gabrielle.

Way back when I shared the Living Room tour, I received several emails asking about our barstools — they peek out of the corner in a photo or two in the tour. All this time, I’ve been meaning to share, and I finally prepped some photographs.

The stools look so simple, but it took me a ridiculous amount of searching before I figured out what would work best here. The parameters I had in mind:

1) We needed stools that could be both counter height and bar height — most of the family prefers counter height, but Oscar and June like something taller. I considered stools that were available in the same design at two different heights, but decided I wanted stools that were adjustable — so that if in the future we decide we want them all at counter height, we won’t need to replace the bar height stools.

Barstool Treehouse4

2) I wanted the stool seats to spin. Because the stools are right in between the kitchen and living room, people sitting on the stools end up taking part in conversations happening in both places, and I wanted people to be able to easily spin from one direction to another without getting off the stool.

3) I wanted something that didn’t have a huge footprint. The counter is not that wide, and I was hoping to fit five stools. Along the same lines, I also wanted backless stools — chair backs would block the view to the kitchen when sitting on the sofa.

4) Since the whole space is done in light colors, I wanted the same thing for the stools. It they were dark, I knew they would be the first thing people would see in the space because they would draw the eye — and I wanted the stool to be more functional instead of a centerpiece.

Barstool Treehouse1

5) Lastly, the stools needed to be within my price range.

So, I hunted and hunted — in brick and mortar shops, and online as well. I found lots of options that were close, but not quite right. Some were out of my budget, others were the right look, but didn’t offer two height options.

And then I found these. They were (almost) perfect! I ordered one to test out in the space, and concluded that if I recovered the tops, they would be just right. The stool seats spin. There are two different heights in the same stool. The footprint is small. Bingo!

Barstool Treehouse2

To recover the stools, I chose Crypton fabric. It’s designed for kids and pets and is super durable. I used the same brand on the toddler beds we built years ago and it held up beautifully! The fabric feels like normal soft fabric against the skin, but it wipes totally clean. I love this stuff! In fact, if you’re concerned about stains on your sofas, Crypton would be a smart choice for upholstery. The shade I used is a grey/blue called Herringbone Loon. It’s really lovely.

Though I take on simple upholstery projects from time to time, I hired this one out — I wanted welt along the top edges, and the last time I tried welt it was a total fail. Hah! Also, this was the only time I’ve ever had a brand new piece of furniture recovered, and I confess, it felt odd to do so. If it had been anything bigger than a stool, I don’t think I would have been willing!

Tell me friends, how picky are you about searching out the ideal furniture? I feel like I’ve turned up the pickiness factor as I make design decisions for The Treehouse, because I feel like we’re going to own this home for a long, long time. So I’ve been going slowly and trying to choose carefully. I’d also love to hear: have you ever recovered a new piece of furniture?

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Emme July 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I really like those… especially recovered! I’ve considered recovering new pieces before, but I’ve never actually done it! So, in the end, did you order extra stools for when you want all counter height? (Am I correct in believing these are not adjustable?)


2 Design Mom July 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Oops! I didn’t explain clearly. These stools are adjustable. The legs have an extension. I really like them, because the extension blends in.

So, we can make these all counter height, or all bar height, or a combination of both.


3 Amy July 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I love the stools and like the idea of using a lighter color and lower height so they don’t compete – those are the things that seaparate designers from the rest of us! I also think it’s funny that you say you’re going slowly because we’ve owned our house for ten years and you’re way ahead of us. :) I love seeing the Treehouse transform and hearing about your design decisions as we head into renovating our house.


4 Design Mom July 10, 2014 at 4:45 pm

That makes me so happy to hear, Amy! I’m in the middle of photoshoots for my book and I’m pouring over the text trying to make it as useful as possible, and hoping it will be helpful to people. Reading that you like hearing about my design decisions is encouraging! The book is full of that sort of thing. : )


5 Claudia Boress July 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm

I love reading someone’s thought process when it comes to design. Especially furniture purchases. To live with something is like a member of a family. It’s emotional! I enjoyed reading how you came up with your decision for these stools, which I love btw!


6 Zoe - SlowMama July 10, 2014 at 4:54 pm

You’re right – they’re the perfect stools. And I’m so impressed at your upholstery work! I want these for my own. (When I have a new house with a kitchen island, that is.)


7 Design Mom July 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm

This is the first time I’ve had a Kitchen Island since I went off to college. I’m a big fan. For us it means so much more counter space, and we can have the whole family working around the island at the same time.

Also, see my note about the upholstery in the response to the comment below. : )


8 Zoe - SlowMama July 11, 2014 at 9:44 am

Ah. Well then, you hired the right person! :-)


9 emma July 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I love that the adjustable height legs are so discreet, it took me a moment to figure it out!

And your upholstery work is impressive indeed!! Could you please do a tutorial for that at some stage too?

Your home is looking wonderful btw, Congratulations!


10 Design Mom July 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm

How embarrassing! I didn’t mean to imply the upholstery work was my own. Just updated the post with this: Though I take on simple upholstery projects from time to time, I hired this one out — I wanted welt along the top edges and the last time I tried was a total fail. Hah!

Sorry about that.

And I love the legs too. I’m really pleased with these stools!


11 Emme July 10, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Would you be willing to tell how much it cost per stool for the upholstery? (If not, that’s okay.) I’m always curious how much smaller projects like that would be when I see something that just needs a little tweaking!


12 LP July 10, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Yes, please do share. IMHO, I can’t imagine that re-upholstering them would make them affordable.


13 Design Mom July 11, 2014 at 9:49 am

Hi Emme! I had a sofa and the stools recovered at the same time, and the price was all lumped in together, so I don’t know what the break down was per stool. But I’m sure if you email a photo to a few upholsterers in your area than can give you an estimate pretty quickly. Also, I should note, I provided the fabric for the stools, which must have lowered the price as well.

I had budgeted $150 per stool, so even with the upholstery, I felt like I was still in my budget. Of course, if I had skipped the new upholstery, the stools would have been an even better deal!


14 Dale July 10, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Amazing how many options and time it takes to wade through.
We have been helping a friend renovate a vintage airstream , creating a bar /cafe. Epic project !! we have been looking for bar stools with similar criteria to yours.
I think I am going to tackle the upholstering, no welting for me, although yours look so slick !
Thanks for the post


15 Design Mom July 11, 2014 at 9:49 am

Renovating a Vintage Airstream? I’m already hooked!


16 Amy3 July 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm

I love these! The color of the fabric is my favorite!


17 Design Mom July 11, 2014 at 9:50 am

I love the color as well. It’s subtle and has a lovely sheen to it.


18 Matilda July 10, 2014 at 8:49 pm

I know what you mean about slooow decorating/furnishing. My boyfriend and I moved in what is my first unfurnished apartment, and really started from scratch, which has been intimidating. I think of the quote from William Morris: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” whenever I’m picking something out. It’s so important to be intentional about what you bring into your home!


19 Design Mom July 11, 2014 at 9:51 am

That quote is the best! It’s currently used in my book. Such good words.


20 Joanna July 11, 2014 at 12:12 am

Oooh! Perfect timing! I’m just about to embark on a bar stool hunt myself! But suddenly I realize that it might not be as straight forward as I had assumed! ;-) (I’m kind of maxed out on all the decisions we had to make for the kitchen renovation already… ) Living in a high cost country (Norway) I have never had anything new reupholstered. I’m guessing that with these bar stools it would probably triple the price, at least. Oh well. Your thoughts on the process were quite helpful though. Thank you!


21 Design Mom July 11, 2014 at 9:53 am

Oh man. No idea on upholstery prices in Norway. Maybe you can go for a modern stool in wood and skip the upholstery altogether. Woods and whites always seem at home to me in Scandinavian houses.


22 Gina July 11, 2014 at 7:24 am

That’s it. I need your brain. We have been in our house for a year and are trying to make thoughtful long lasting decisions as we buy furniture, but I’m afraid we inevitably miss the mark sometimes with our untrained eye. I absolutely love how you think of everything.
PS now with two little people I’ve pretty much given up on my blog-trolling days of yore. But I always make time to come back here because your content is consistently beautiful, thoughtful, thought-provoking or inspired. Thank you for being among the greats! I never feel like my time on Design Mom is wasteful. You are unique, inclusive, and genuine.


23 Design Mom July 11, 2014 at 9:53 am

Gina, your P.S. made my day. Thank you a million!


24 Marlena July 11, 2014 at 7:50 am

We moved into our second house almost a year ago and I’m way pickier this time. I know what I want and I want to only buy something once, so I’m holding out. For example, we really need another lamp in the living room, but the one that I was is $300, so I’m saving for it versus getting an IKEA or Target one (believe me, we have plenty of IKEA and Target). It can be maddening living in a house that still feels not quite put together, but I feel like I have more ideas and pride in what will be a 20-year home for us, if not longer.


25 Design Mom July 11, 2014 at 9:54 am

That is how most of my house feels. Progress is slow! But we’re getting there.


26 Dee Wilcox July 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I love the stools! And that fabric is truly lovely. I’ve bookmarked it for reference later.

I’m curious — my almost four-year-old loves climbing on the stool for her daddy’s desk and spinning around, but it makes me so nervous. Do you have any rules or guidelines for your littles and their use of the stools, or do you just let experience do its work?


27 Dee Wilcox July 15, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Also — just bought our third house in January, in East Nashville this time. I, too, have the feeling we’ll be here a long, long time, and I am WAY pickier. It’s either age and wisdom. Or, you know, age and wisdom. :)


28 pam November 29, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I loved this post and had been thinking about them for a while…they are exactly what I need for an island with seating on both sides. Love that they will nearly tuck under the counter and almost disappear. Anyways, I just ordered 8 of these on sale for 63 dollars each! I am going to try the upholstering myself …wish me luck!


29 Anna April 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Hi there, I’m the person that’s always straying off topic here! But, can I ask where you got those very wide wood counter top pieces? You’ve made a great interim solution with the counters between kitchen and living room!


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