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All About That Base // Vintage Counter Height Bar Stools + Making It Work

03.18.15

If you have been with me here at TDC for a bit and you remember one of my recent room reveals, you might also notice a new addition has popped up in the kitchen to family room view corridor. I am pretty excited about these gems, but in truth they didn't come easily and I had to punch the clock a bit on this project to actually make it work.

A few weeks ago I gathered up my little family and we headed east to the Alameda Point Antique Faire. Which by the way is hands down one of the best (if not the absolute best) vintage markets out there for us folks in Northern California. I never leave empty handed and this particular trip was especially good to me, seeing as I found the makings of a new set of much needed bar stools.

You see, shortly after we moved into this house I purchased bar stools and it was a happy day indeed given the prominence of my kitchen island and how much time we were likely to spend gathered around it. I searched for hours to find an option that was affordable (real people affordable, not crazy designer affordable), easy to wipe down for the kids, adjustable to counter height, and comfortable. In my mind, comfortable meant that it would be cushiony, had arms, and could swivel. Since the stools would sit between the kitchen and family room, being able to turn between the two spaces would be good. Little did I know that the adjustable factor would ultimately clash with the arms and the swivel factor and both the bar stools and my kitchen island would suffer dearly for it.

You can see a few of the wounds from the counter and the arms fighting like mad, and neither came out ahead, trust me on that. Sadly this is one of the better arm covers in the bunch and many of the other covers were lost within a couple of months. Every single day of living with these derelict stools made me sad and the damn chairs ultimately weren't even comfortable. They were almost comfortable and probably would have been, except the seat was too short and too upright. If the seat had 2 to 3 extra inches and the back sat at a slight angle, say at 95 or 100 degrees from the seat, these would have been superb. Instead they hit at a weird spot on the back of adult legs and so a person could only sit in them for short periods of time. Very unfortunate and so very sad.

But then one fine day, I carted my cute boys all the way to the bay and plied them with amazing food and endless hours on tablets to get them to agree to come along for the ride. And I stumbled upon four bar stools which were a vision of perfection with nary a flaw to be found… except a bit of dirt and rust on the stands. Then came the task of trying to stuff them in the car with both boys, the stroller, and another 4 chairs I nabbed, which I will share more about later… and I will be honest, it was touch and go there for a minute. I wasn't sure we were going to get everything to fit, but we did by some miracle of the vintage furniture gods.

It was a bit of a full house on the trip home, for sure, but these babes of mine were all smiles, shockingly. That is more than I can say for how they were feeling while we were still at the antique faire…

And I brought these bar stools in and put them back together faster than you can blink an eye… only to find that they were too high, ugh. It wasn't as if I was expecting to find bar stools and I definitely wasn't seeking them out or I might have been smart enough to remember to measure before I left – but of course I didn't.

Totally deflated and not entirely sure how to fix them, they sat there for a couple days looking all cushy with their back rests that cradle you as you sit, and nice deep seats with a ton of comfort… just begging me to hang out and stay a while. Insert sad face. Then it occurred to me that I had 4 stools that I happen to be hating on, but that happen to have bases that are not only the right height but also adjustable – you know, for the kids – and it just so happens that the way the stools attach to the seat was similar! I can't tell you how relieved I was to figure this out.

I used the new base to mark out where I need to secure it to the seat and traced the screw holes for reference. I made sure to stay away from the existing attachment locations so as to keep it from weakening over time.

To secure the base I used self tapping screws that were the same length as the screws for the existing base and I used the washers that were used on my old bar stools (the soon to be new base) to keep the screw heads from falling out of the screw holes.

I gave that sucker a test drive and it worked and fit beautifully. Oh what a relief it was…

I'm happy to report the new bases are now all nicely secured in all their adjustable counter height glory! And bonus… no rust or dirt to deal with! Yahoo.

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