Bar tables, or high tables, are great for socialising and work perfectly in compact spaces. But which type is right for you? What kind of height and shape should your bar table be? And what about materials and any additional features you might want? Follow our guide to find the perfect bar table for your needs.
A bar table, or high table, refers to any table that is higher than a standard table (which generally measures about 75 cm in height). Also known as counter height tables and pub tables, these leggy tables measure around 110 to 120 cm. They come in a range of models and your choice of design will depend on the space you have available and your personal needs.
The shape of the table (usually round, square or rectangular), as well as its size, should be chosen to match the number of guests you expect to welcome. You'll also have to consider the size of the room. A counter height table, for example, is great for a smaller space.
The material of the table should be chosen to fit in with the décor and furniture of the room (classic, rustic, industrial, contemporary and so on). You'll also have to weigh up the care requirements of different materials alongside the various advantages, disadvantages and price of each model. Some of the most common materials used to make bar tables include solid wood, composite wood, chipboard, safety glass, metal or even steel and stone.
Don't forget to look out for any additional features that may come in handy, such as height adjustable or even foldaway models that can be stowed away when not in use.
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The height of the bar table, as well as what you want to use it for, will differ depending on the type of model.
Classic bar table
A classic bar table measures about 90 to 110 cm in height. Commonly called a pub table, these tables are often used alongside bar stools or tall chairs to dine with family, have breakfast or have a drink with friends. The stools should measure about 20 to 30 cm less than the height of the table.
Island bar tables
Currently very fashionable, island or semi-island bar tables are tall tables that are also fitted with storage compartments. These tables can be used as both an extension of your countertop and as a table. Usually measuring around 90 cm in height, an island table can be placed in the centre of the room or at an angle to an existing worktop.
Counter height tables
Counter height tables allow you to eat standing up. They are therefore a little taller than other bar tables at around 110 to 120 cm in height. A handy addition to a small kitchen, these tables can be used for eating on the go or grabbing a coffee with breakfast in the morning and usually feature a smaller tabletop.
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The shape of a bar table will affect its overall look as well as the number of diners it can accommodate.
- Round bar tables are ideal for more compact spaces and won't overwhelm the room. Usually held up by a single leg, these petite models feature a small tabletop (approx. 60 cm) and are usually 2 or 3-seater.
- Square bar tables offer an original alternative to a standard dining table and can even be placed in a corner if you don't plan to have a lot of guests or are just looking to make more space.
- Rectangular bar tables can be used to accommodate more people but this means that they do take up more room. Even the smallest models should be able to fit at least four diners around them. You can always set up the table against a wall to save on space when it is not in use.
- It is possible to find more original shapes (triangle, oval, etc.), but you will need to be careful about where you place them to ensure you find the best spot for your room.
Your choice of material will dictate the look of the table, as well as its care requirements and price.
- Laminate wood tables (made up of many layers of synthetic materials held together by resin) and melamine wood tables (chipboard covered with a decorative paper soaked in melamine resin) both offer a wide variety of designs and colours. These materials are easy to care for and less costly than solid wood. They are, however, less hard-wearing.
- A chipboard or MDF table will also offer a wide range of patterns and colours at a reasonable price range. These materials are also hard-wearing and easy to clean. However, they are not heat- or scratch-resistant.
- Solid wood tables offer a wide range of different tones and wood species (oak, beech, pine, teak, etc.). They are generally favoured for their natural look and strength. However, some types of wood are sensitive to heat and water, and all must be maintained regularly.
- A tempered glass bar table will offer a lighter aesthetic and will be resistant to both water and heat. However, dust and finger marks will show up easily.
- A metal bar table (aluminium, zinc, cast iron, etc.) can provide a bistrot-style ambiance and will be easy to clean.
- Stone tables are extremely hard-wearing and original in terms of style. Natural stone is, however, very heavy and relatively expensive.
Bar tables may come with a few different features designed to make them easier to use or store away.
- Foldaway tables are great for occasional use as they can be folded out when needed and stowed away when you're done. These tables are particularly handy in small spaces.
- Height adjustable tables (or those with extension poles) can be adjusted to different heights to match your needs.
- Covers specially designed for bar tables are designed to cover up the entire bar or counter height table (legs included) and can be handy if you're hosting an event, for example.
Guide written by:
Anne, Painter, Cambridge, 59 guides
After 8 years of trade, I turned professional: I trained myself to be a painter and carpet fitter, either on my own or with 16 year old comrades. 9 months later, following vocational training, I created my company.
I’m a self-taught DIYer and decoration enthusiast, I love to find and restore furniture and to create unique decoration pieces. I completed the renovation of my sister’s house with my niece: electrics, tiling, plasterboard...we did it all. And today, if I can share my experience I'm happy to do it. Good Luck.