Welcome to “Mountain House Mondays” where yes, we talk current mountain house projects, design conundrums and generally “where we’re at” in the furniture/decor phase of this home. You guys asked for it, so what you are going to get is in-process decision making which sometimes (like today) might be messy. I’m hoping that you still gleam some information from the indecision and learn truly about the conundrums that even “experts” deal with on a day to day basis. Todays conundrum is the riveting stool debate. This post was finished on Friday with stools pretty much decided on, but over the weekend I’ve been up here and actually experiencing the house and now … well, you’ll see.
We are hoping to shoot the kitchen in mid-February (with a reveal end of month or beginning of March) and the only thing we are waiting on are the stools for both the island and peninsula. So, I thought I’d walk you through the process of how the EHD team chooses furniture for a particular space and how we narrowed it down to the two stools that we ended up choosing.
As a reminder, here is the layout of the kitchen.
The last time you probably heard from us about this kitchen, it looked a little different in terms of material (remember this?). So for a little clarity and context, we included the final materials in the board above so you can get a sense of the vibe (but we didn’t want to give it away).
So, since we need stools for two areas (like I said, peninsula in front and island, in the middle), it’s made a little trickier because the material is not the same on both those spots. The island is a black stained reclaimed wood while the peninsula is a reclaimed beechwood (though both have a white quartz countertop). Now they can be the same stool, but I think it will be more interesting if they are not, and vintage isn’t really an option as “counter stools” weren’t really a thing until the last couple decades so most vintage stools are bar stools (for anyone wondering what the difference is, it’s a seat height difference; counter stools range from 24-29 inches in height seat to floor while bar stools range from 30-36 inches).
The problem with stools is the same problem with, well, EVERYTHING IN LIFE: finding something that is comfortable, beautiful and affordable is quite a challenge. I might even say you have to choose two generally and that getting all three is impossible. Hell, getting “comfortable” and “stylish” is already hard.
Here are a few points we had on our mind while the design team was doing research:
Ideally, I’d keep it clean and not have stools with backs on them so they can tuck under the island but over the break as we were up there (and I was cooking all day every day), people kept me company at the island for hours and therefore having a back on them became a necessity. Ideally, they’d even be padded or be something where it would be easy to put a cushion on. So on the comfort level, I need these on the island to be at least a 6-7.
But I think the stools at the peninsula can be backless as they will get less use and I really want to keep the sightline clean from the living room. I think these are more the kind that people will hang out at, but not for hours just while making a drink or eating a snack. But if they could also have a cushion, or be comfortable then yes, GREAT.
While the whole mountain house style is minimal and Scandinavian, I want to keep it relatively classic and not trendy. It’s a hard balance…comfort, stylish, cool but not trendy, timeless but not boring. But it seems fun to fantasize…so first I’d like to introduce you to my dream stools. Some of the most beautiful stools in the world.
1. Moreno Barstool | 2. Strel Stool | 3. Siro+ Bar Stool | 4. Oak Hiro Counter Height Stool | 5. Brown Leather and Oak Stool | 6. Black and Leather Counter Stool | 7. Spot Counter Stool | 8. Meru Counter Stool | 9. Leather and Wood Stool | 10. C603 Stool | 11. Tractor Counter Stool | 12. In Between SK7 Bar Stool
When I saw those (#1, #2 and #4), I had a visceral reaction. Those lines are simple but stunning. They are unique but not loud. They are minimal but still warm. They are also all very expensive, weighing in at $1,200 for #1 and I’m not sure how much the BBDW ones are but likely over $1k each.
The reason the Lawson-Fenning pick made the list is that it looks SO comfortable but without being a generic upholstered stool or one that could be found at a slot machine in Vegas. But these are already an investment and I would want them in leather which would cost even more and then Julie realized that they are too tall to tuck under the island, which was the whole point. I kept them “on the list” because they do check most of the boxes (comfort, simple, unique). Am I tempted to actually go for any of these splurge-y stools? My heart says yes, my brain and wallet says no. Besides, there are SO MANY great stools out there at all price points.
So Julie basically put together a document of all the best stools that fall in the Scandinavian vibe, that would work for the house (and my budget). We divided it into counter stools with backs and without because again, I want the people around the island to have backs, while the peninsula doesn’t necessarily need to (although ideally there wouldn’t be any backs, visually). If you are thinking that maybe a low back would be the best option, I’ll warn you that last night, I sat at a bar that had a low back and it basically felt like it had no back so it’s kind of pointless with the false sense of security a real back gives you.
1. Lovell Counter Stool | 2. Anna Stool | 3. Slope Upholstered Counter Stool | 4. Black Windsor Stool | 5. Faith Bar Stool | 6. Pause Bar Stool | 7. Gray Upholstered Counter Stool | 8. Plymouth Bar Stool | 9. Mackinder Counter Stool | 10. Klein Counter Stool | 11. Upholstered Walnut Counter Stool | 12. Remnick Counter Stool
1. Wood and Metal Square Counter Stool | 2. Perch Bar Stool | 3. Origin Backless Counter Stools | 4. Revolver Counter Stool | 5. Tan Leather and Light Oak Stool | 6. Plato Counter Stool | 7. Wood and White Metal Counter Stool | 8. Trace Counter Stool | 9. Smoked Oak and Black Counter Stool | 10. Spin Counter Stool | 11. White Ash Stool | 12. Plato Counter Stool
To keep it easy and to speed up the process (with fewer questions), Julie included the lead time and the price on these when we went over them internally.
Typically, the design team will put all options on a sheet (in Photoshop or InDesign), print it out and I basically just X out the “no’s” first. Don’t get me wrong, in this instance, ALL of these are “yes’s”—just being considered on this list means we really like something about all of these. But we have to consider the finish (the peninsula is light wood and the island is black wood), and whether we want the stools to pop or go away. I definitely don’t want them to pop, though some contrast could be nice, but also since this house is to remain as airy and calm as possible, I do want to make sure I’m not adding contrast just for the sake of contrast. Tone on tone is definitely the quieter route.
Once we got down to the “maybe’s,” she put them on another board so we could see them together.
Honestly, I love all of these. Some of them were nixed simply because of budget or lead time. If they were my dream stool that we had to wait ’til March for, we might have, but I love so many of these that obsessing over one seemed silly.
Then it came down to what looks good together:
Originally, I wanted the pair on the left, but we didn’t hear back about lead time on the stool and we are trying to move fast. Then Article came out with these stools (creating the pair on the right) which frankly do look more comfortable and have a roomier bum (with a pad!). So we ordered them to get here in time for the shoot and now the Finnish Design Shop stools are in stock and can get here in time (and we get a nice press discount).
The price difference between the Article stool and Finnish Design shop is about $80 each, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that much. Stylistically the Finnish stool looks better with the Lostine stool…what do you guys think? If you had to pick a pair for the kitchen based on the materials I mentioned, what would you go with and why?
*Last minute Update: After spending the weekend up here with my friends, I’m even MORE concerned about the need for comfort around the island. My girlfriends and I discussed how no one really wants to sit at a bar or island on stools without a back, for more than 20 minutes anyway. Now I fear that the Lostine stools should go at the peninsula (I already bought them, but we could return).
It really is a cruel cruel world that the elements that make something comfortable often make them less streamlined, bulkier, bigger, less sculptural. I’m tempted to go back to the drawing board and sacrifice a bit of that minimal Scandi vibe to get more comfort. I now have four more that I’m contemplating that look comfortable and family friendly albeit less beautiful.