counter stools

Yes you can make those wood bar stools fit your counter.  Here’s an easy DIY fix to make bar stools into counter stools (and a quick makeover too!).

Bar stools typically sit at 30″ high, this is fine and dandy if you have a proper bar where the countertop is elevated higher than the working countertop space.  Kitchen designs are trending now away from the proper bar towards one even countertop surface.  No worries, you can still use those bar stools for your counter by easily cutting off the bottom 4″ to reduce the stools to a counter height of 26″:

counter stools1

(The white stools above are counter height and in the picture for comparison purposes.)

In addition to fixing the height of your stools give them a fresh look with a quick paint job and a new design:

counter stools14

How to modify bar stools to counter height (and refinish with star detail):


  • wood bar stool(s)
  • scrap 1×4@20″and 1×2@4″ or similar, wood glue, wood screw
  • circular saw or hand saw
  • sandpaper
  • paint (for legs & stars) & paintbrushes
  • stain (for seat) + cloth & cotton swabs
  • ballpoint pen
  • clear polyurethane & foam brush
  • clear paste wax & brush or cloth


Step 1: Make a guide for measuring the 4″ cut from each stool leg.  Having a guide ensures each leg will be cut exactly the same length.  Pieces needed for the guide:

counter stools4

Step 2: Attach the 1x2x4″ piece flush to one side and near one end of the 1×4 with a wood screw and glue.

Step 3: Place the guide (the flat portion of the 1×4) up against the bottom of the stool legs lining up the 1×2 with one leg, mark the 4″ cut line.  Repeat this process for each leg.

Step 4: Cut legs using a circular saw (or hand saw), try to keep your cut parallel to the rungs.

counter stools5

Step 5: Sand.

Step 6: Paint. (I used one coat Annie Sloan paris grey.)

Step 7: Sand to distress edges.

Step 8: Stain seat portion using Minwax Provincial.  Be sure to tape off legs where they meet the seat.

Step 9: Use a cotton swab to apply stain to distressed areas of legs.

counter stools6

Step 10: Print out star pattern.  (Download the free pattern here.)  Center pattern on seat and trace stars using ballpoint pen with enough pressure to create slight indent in wood.

Step 11: The indent is visible.

Step 12: Paint the stars on and inside the indents.

Step 13: Distress stars with sandpaper.

counter stools7

Step 14: Seal seat with clear satin poly, two coats.

Step 15: Seal legs with clear wax.

counter stools8Your stools are ready!  And don’t forget to add some felts to the feet for easy sliding on your floors.

counter stools9

Now when you see those wood bar stools at garage sales this Spring grab them! You can easily modify the legs to fit your counter height eating area.

   counter stools15

They’re solid wood, easily portable, user friendly and you can paint them any color to match your decor.

Signature Fonts
Learn more about Jaime ~

20 replies
  1. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    Hi.. thanks for the tutorial. I am nervous that my legs will not come out level. I need an even 3 inches off each leg. My stool looks similar to yours but with the chair back.. any other suggestions to help?

  2. C Curtis
    C Curtis says:

    I also have the opposite problem … really pretty counter height upholstered chair/stools … but I moved into a house with Bar height island. The legs are cherry. I guess there is nothing I can do? In other words, I need to add height. Any thoughts? At the very least, maybe get some inexpensive round bar stools and have them recovered with the existing fabric?

  3. Kelly Joyce
    Kelly Joyce says:

    I have a set of stools I bought at a yard sale. I want to make nightstands out of them, however they are too tall. I want to cut them. So can I just cut from the bottom or do I need to take the seat off and cut from the top and bottom? Thanks.

  4. Jayme
    Jayme says:

    Just to think this whole time I have been looking for new chairs when I can just cut down the ones I have… genius… You just saved me $100’s.

  5. Betty
    Betty says:

    I have a wonderful counter height corner until and I want a counter height. Do you think I could just take 4″ of the chairs?

  6. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Can you add wheels to the legs of a bar stool after it is cut down? (I want to be able to scoot around my kitchen and sit while working at my counters.

    • Jaime Costiglio
      Jaime Costiglio says:

      Nancy you could add wheels, measure your wheel height and subtract that from the total height to be sure you cut off enough leg. Just be careful with wheels as they can be unpredictable when you sit down! Good luck.

  7. colleen
    colleen says:

    i SO enjoy receiving and reading about your projects. at my home, i have the opposite problem with barstools. my counter is 48″ high, therefore the stool seats need to be at least 36″ high. any idea on how to heighten a barstool? thanks!

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      I DO have an idea. Years ago I saw a friend had cut PVC pipes that fit around their dining chair legs to raise the chair up several inches for their toddler. Granted this was a chair, not a stool, so make sure it is sturdy and can’t topple over first.

      • colleen
        colleen says:

        what a GREAT idea! Lowe’s here I come!!!! thank you! i will let you know how it turns out!

  8. Terri
    Terri says:

    I never thought of redoing the seat and distressing the legs…thanks for the great idea to freshen them up!

    • Nora
      Nora says:

      I just did it!! OMG! It worked beautifully. I can’t believe it. I actually ruined another pair of stools last month and had to throw them away. Then I went on the internet. I thought there has to be a trick to this. The jig worked great. I did buy a Japanese Pull saw to get a finer cut. I felt I had better control than the jig saw or the circular saw with my arthritis. It’s easy. Just trust the jig!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] over to Pretty Handy Girl where I’m sharing how to cut down your standard wood bar stools to counter height: And […]

  2. […] How to Cut Bar Stools Down to Counter Height Stools […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.