How to Make a Chair the Height of the Counter

Gone are the days when all meals were taken around dining room tables of a standard height. Whether you sit at a pub-style table, a counter-high bar or a custom-made table, you'll need chairs to match. If you've already picked out the chairs of your dreams, you may still adapt them to work with your counter.

Counter seating needs to be a particular height for maximum comfort.

Step 1

Measure the height of your counter from its bottom edge.  Subtract 10 to 12 inches from the bottom edge of the counter to determine the ideal height for your seat.

Give yourself slightly more leg room if your counter has a large overhang. 

Step 2

Select chair legs designed for "bar height" tables, if your counter is 40 to 42 inches high.  Opt for "counter height" chair legs if the counter is 35 to 36 inches high.

Use "extra-tall" or "spectator" chair legs for a table that is 45 to 48 inches tall.  Select a material and color that coordinates with the chair plan.

Opt for a swivel-style chair base if you prefer to move while sitting. 

Step 3

Detach the standard-length legs from your chair, either unscrewing them by forcefully turning the leg or sawing them off with a hand saw.  Sand and varnish or paint the chair, if necessary, while it is detached from its base.

Start with heavy gauge sandpaper and progress toward finer paper.  Finish sanding with moistened, very fine sandpaper for a glossy look.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions completely for all drying times of any paint or varnish. 

Step 4

Work with another person to hold the chair atop your new, counter-high chair legs in order to test the height.  Measure the distance from the seat to the bottom of the counter to confirm it is sufficient.

Screw a thin shim of wood to the bottom of the seat if the new legs are not quite long enough.  Sand down the exposed side of the shim for a smooth finish.

Attach the legs to the base of the seat or the shim using the drill. 

Things You Will Need

  • Chair
  • Hand saw
  • Shims
  • Electric drill
  • Screws
  • Barstool-style chair legs
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Varnish (optional)


  • While you're replacing the legs of your chair, use the change to update the chair's style and coordinate it with the rest of the room. For example, a chrome cage-style bar stool frame can give a sleek chair a retro look.


  • Follow basic safety procedures whenever using power tools, keeping them unplugged when not in use and wearing safety goggles whenever drilling.
  • Only apply varnishes, paints or any other substances that produce fumes in a well-ventilated area. If you must apply them within your living quarters, keep the windows open and do not leave them to dry in the same area where you sleep.

About the Author

Danielle Hill has been writing, editing and translating since 2005. She has contributed to "Globe Pequot" Barcelona travel guide, "Gulfshore Business Magazine," "Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico" and "The Barcelona Review." She has trained in neuro-linguistic programming and holds a Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature and literary translation from Brown University.

Photo Credits

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