Bar stool spacing – what are the design standards for bars?
To design a bar for economic viability, the question is how much space should be between bar stools.
DESIGN STANDARDS FOR BARS
In bar design we’re always asking our clients how close they want their bar stools. The average size for a commercial bar stool is 18” x 20”, as shown in this example. The most common mistake I see is when people attempt to place the stools too close together, when featuring 3” side-to-side clearance. It’s important to note the following:
- By architectural standards, 3” of bar stool side-clearance will allow less than 5% of male users access without disturbing the adjacent patron.
- On the opposite side of the bar I’m featuring backless stools placed 12” apart; this will accommodate 95% of the patrons. The trade-off is one less stool for every 10’ of bar length.
- Not many bar owners would opt for the latter solution, but a good compromise would be 6” of side-clearance as shown with both the backless stool and the first stool.
- Side-to-side bar stool clearance of 6” is the most popular choice among the majority of our commercial bar design clients.
Don’t be fooled by the center-to-center bar stool dimension people often discuss, as the information can be misleading. Use the above bar stool options and your interests will be better-served.
STRIVE TO CREATE A BALANCE BETWEEN CLEARANCE AND COMFORT
Creating generous side-to-side bar stool clearance and optimizing the number of seats is a balancing act affected by the sizes of the stools themselves. As a general rule, the most expensive bar stools are the largest. Backless bar stools will provide the maximum number of seating opportunities, as shown in our earlier example. Shown here is the model 709-30 Labella bar stool by MTS Seating, a very popular manufacturer of hospitality seating. This stool is 16” x 16” and costs about $100 ea. A larger, more comfortable bar stool is the MTS model 902-30, which is 21” x 23 ½” and costs about $300 ea. Cut sheets for these and other MTS seating are downloadable below.
THE OPTIMAL BAR STOOL SPACING
The takeaway today is to not overcrowd your bar stools. Backless bar stools will help maximize the number of seats and for best results, prudent bar design is to plan for 6” – 12” of side-clearance.
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