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Bar stools come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, and choosing the right set of bar stools is key to creating functional, comfortable seating around your breakfast bar, kitchen island, basement bar, or outdoor bar. In addition to being practical pieces of furniture, bar stools are decorative accent pieces that help you set the tone for a room, whether your style is minimalist, rustic, industrial, traditional, French bistro, coastal, or contemporary. Changing the style of your bar stools is an easy way to update your décor without renovating the whole room.
Below, our picks of the best bar stools available on the market.
Best Overall: Winsome Satori Stool
It’s hard to go wrong with a classic wooden saddle-seat bar stool. This basic, space-saving shape has been around for decades, and the backless seats can scoot almost all the way under the countertop to give you more wiggle room when not in use.. The seat is wide but on the shallow side, great for perching at the countertop, but not so large that it will crowd the pass-through space in a small or medium-sized kitchen. The carved seat is comfortable to sit in, and the braces along the legs offer a natural footrest. Made of solid beech wood with a walnut finish, this stool is done in a medium wood tone that works in both casual and formal spaces. These stools are available in both bar and counter height, so they’ll work for just about any kitchen or bar table. Try the Winsome Wood Saddle Stool in the counter-height size if you need a shorter option.
Best Budget: Winsome Wood Tabby 30" Beveled Seat Bar Stools, 2-Piece Set
A stylish bar stool for under $25? Totally possible! To find a budget-friendly bar stool, look for ones made of inexpensive materials, like wood or aluminum, with a no-frills construction so you’re not paying for bells and whistles like swivel mechanics, upholstery or extra design details. What you’ll find: Stools like these that are solid, well-constructed, and made of real wood, in a warm finish that works well in many kitchens. This classic round four-leg design works well in casual spaces, and can lend a friendly tone to formal kitchens, too. And unlike a lot of other budget-friendly furniture, these stools come fully assembled.
Best Metal: Flash Furniture 30'' High Backless Metal Indoor-Outdoor Barstool with Square Seat
Metal is a durable material that works with a variety of kitchen decors, from rustic to modern and even traditional. And because metal can come in so many finishes and colors, it can take easily take on different looks, even in the same basic shape. The square-topped metal stool is a longtime favorite in restaurants and cafes that has made its way into the home. In neutral colors like black, silver or white, it can seamlessly blend into a space without making too much of a style statement, a great option if you already have dramatic lighting or tile. But in a bright color, like orange or Kelly green, it can inject the room with a playful personality, just by changing up the seating. These metal stools are stackable and can be used both indoors and outdoors, making them a versatile option for many spaces.
Best Outdoor: GDF Studio Stewart Outdoor Brown Wicker Bar Stool
Whether you have a bar set up in your backyard or a higher table for dining, a weatherproof bar stool is a must to truly enjoy the space. Typically, outdoor bar stools are made of the same materials as other outdoor furnishings, such as wicker, metal, treated woods and plastic. Your outdoor bar stools don’t have to match your other outdoor furnishings exactly; in fact, it can be nice to contrast materials and textures in the entire space. These outdoor bar stools offer a great combination of comfort and durability. A high back and generous arms, combined with the woven seat and back, make them comfortable for lounging for lengths of time. They’re made of PE wicker over a coated iron frame to make them weather-resistant. And the wicker look is a classic for outdoor furnishings for its tropical feel.
Best Swivel: Roundhill Furniture Contemporary Chrome Air Lift Adjustable Swivel Stools
Swivel stools are great for entertaining or for placing in areas where you might transition between conversing with people in one spot and then another. Many people like having the option to move around as they sit, and if you’re concerned about scratching your floors (if you have hardwood, for example), swivel chairs can be a good option since people don’t need to scoot them away from the countertop to get right into their seats. Swivel bar stools are available in a range of styles, from a classic chrome diner-look stools to pub-style wooden ones. This streamlined set is a more modern take on the swivel, with an ergonomically curved seat and shiny chrome base. It’s available in three solid colors. And as a bonus, this swivel seat is also adjustable from counter height to bar height, making it easy for both children and adults in a range of heights to get comfortable at the countertop.
Best Counter Height: Threshold Windsor Counter Stool Hardwood
Wood is a tried-and-true material for seating. It’s sturdy, can be carved or stained in myriad styles, and is pretty much impervious to spills if you address them quickly. Wooden stools also has more give than their metal counterparts, making them more comfortable for most people to sit in. Add to that a tall, generous seat back, like this Windsor-style seat, and you have a counter height stool that family and guests will be happy to hang out in for hours. This classically shaped stool comes in black and white, plus three more peppy colors to work in a range of spaces. In a classic neutral, it can fit in with a formal or traditional space, but in a bright color like lemon yellow or mint, it’s a truly modern update for a fun dining space.
Best Upholstered: Threshold Brookline Tufted Barstool
While barstools tend to be considered a more casual seating option, a traditionally styled upholstered bar stool can be just as formal as a true dining chair. In elegant kitchens, they can match the tone and in more casual ones they are one of the most comfortable options for seating. Plus, you can typically find more patterns and colors in fabric than you will in other materials. That fabric can be covered or replaced in a few years if you want to change the look or need to spruce up shabby, tired fabric. While fabric or leather seats will require more upkeep than wipe-clean plastic or metal ones, a material pre-treated with stain resistance usually cleans up quickly. This tufted upholstered bar stool comes in both counter height and bar height and in a range of soft neutral tones and elegant pastel colors, as well. Millennial pink, anyone? If you need a shorter bar stool, try the Threshold Brookline Tufted Barstool in the 24-inch height.
What to Look For When Buying Bar Stools
Back or Backless
One of the most important choices you can make about bar stools is whether or not they have a back. This is a matter of style but more importantly of personal comfort. A bar stool without a back takes up less visual space but requires you to balance and sit up straight, which might be harder for kids and older family members. A bar stool with a back allows you to relax more and might be preferable if your kitchen island doubles as a homework station, or if you eat all your meals there, rather than just use it as a place to grab a quick cup of coffee or an after-dinner drink. Pay attention to back heights, which can range from low to high and should be chosen with your comfort in mind.
Choice of Materials
Bar stools come in a variety of materials including wood, rattan, wicker, vinyl, leather, and powder-coated metal. Rattan and wicker bar stools tend to be more lightweight, making them easier to move around, and meaning they will make less noise when pulling them in and out. Metal bar stools lend your space an industrial look and are easy to wipe clean, but can feel cold and hard when sitting for long periods. Upholstered bar stools add comfort, but keep in mind that they will inevitably get spilled on, so be sure to look for water resistant, easy to maintain, durable fabrics. If you’re outfitting an outdoor bar, you’ll want to choose materials that will look good weathered or are designed not to fade or discolor under UV rays.
Just like any chair, the wider the seat generally the more comfortable for a range of users and body types. But if you are short on space, consider narrower bar stool widths that will allow you to pack more seating in. Adjustable height bar stools work well for families, and swivel chairs are both comfortable and fun to sit in for restless souls. Consider protecting your ears from the sound of wooden bar stools being dragged across bare floors by looking for (or adding) rubber grips on bar stool feet.
How tall should a bar stool be?
If you are designing a home bar, look for bar height bar stools, which range from 28-33 inches and are commonly 30 inches high to fit under a standard 42-inch bar counter. For a kitchen island, which at a standard 36 inches tall is slightly lower than a bar counter but higher than a standard 30-inch table height, choose counter height stools that generally range from 24 to 27 inches tall.
What height bar stool should you get for a 42” counter?
A 42” counter is considered bar height, meaning that you will want to choose a stool between 28 to 33 inches tall at the seat.
How high should bar stools be for a kitchen island?
Kitchen islands typically have counter height rather than bar height proportions, meaning that you should choose counter height stools that generally range from 24 to 27 inches tall at the seat.