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Bar stools offer stylish, comfortable seating that will never go out of style. They're great for breakfast bars, kitchen islands, and counter-height tables, and they'll add instant class to your home decor. But all bar stools are not created equal.
You'll have a range of options to choose between, like backless or backrest, bar-height or counter-height, and swivel or fixed. Before you buy, though, you need to know what height you're looking for to ensure the perfect fit. From there, you get to move on to the fun part of actually picking a style you love.
If this sounds like a lot of work for bar stools, don't worry. We've already done the research for you, so all you need to do is measure your table or countertop. And we've included a list of some of the best bar stools on the web to make your job easier.
What’s the difference between a bar stool and a counter stool?
Choosing the wrong height is one of the most common mistakes people make when outfitting their home bar or dining room. It seems like they'd all be the same height, so you might buy the first set you see on Amazon or at Walmart. But when you get them home, the height will likely be off. This is because there's a difference between bar stools and counter stools, also known as counter-height bar stools.
“Always double check to make sure your bar stools or counter stools are the correct height — this is the most important step in picking the appropriate stool for your space,” says Andrea Schumacher of Andrea Schumacher Interiors.
"Standard bar-height stools should have seat heights of 29 to 32 inches and are paired with table heights of 41 to 43 inches. This is the average bar-stool height and fits most home bars and bar tables.”
“Counter-height bar stools usually measure 23 to 28 inches from the floor to the seat and are used with 35 to 37 inch high countertops. Most kitchen counters are around this height to match the height of standard kitchen appliances. Standard bar-height stools should have seat heights of 29 to 32 inches and are paired with table heights of 41 to 43 inches. This is the average bar-stool height and fits most home bars and bar tables.”
In addition to counter-height stools and bar stools, there's height variance in each category. And then there are adjustable bar stools, but they usually make finding a fit easier rather than harder.
For comfortable seating, you want the seat height for your dining chairs or bar stools to be between 10 and 13 inches shorter than your table or countertop. This leaves a comfortable amount of room for sitting and moving around in the chair.
Meet the experts
To create this guide we consulted a range of interior design experts. Keep reading to hear from:
The Delancy Stool from Maiden Home is handmade and inspired by midcentury styling. It features a plush, comfortable seat with an expertly crafted solid ash frame. On checkout, you can select a fabric or leather seat from a range of color and textile options. You'll also have a range of wood finishes to choose from to customize your stools further. Finally, you can choose between metal finishes for the footrest and heights of 26" and 30" for the bar stools.
“With its subtly curved back, The Delancey is a great choice for families with kids or individuals who need more back support from their counter or bar stool. The curved back also looks great tucked into a kitchen island or bar,” says Stephanie DeAngelis, design advisor at Maiden Home.
The Sarno Bar Stool from Inside Weather is part of the Sarno modern dining collection. Like most things from Inside Weather, it's highly customizable with an iconic silhouette. At checkout, you have the opportunity to choose from a range of shapes, styles, and comfort options for the backrest and cushions. And with over 400 fabric and finish choices, you can design a truly unique bar stool with zero compromises.
The product page lists the total height of the bar stools as 41.5" with the seat height at 30.74". The materials used to make the Sarno bar stool are carefully selected for a quality experience. For example, the solid wood frame is made from FSC-certified Ash with an eco-solvent finish. And the excess from all materials consumed is recycled to avoid waste.
The TA Bar Stool from TOOU by Industry West is among the best budget options with an affordable price point. It has an elegant design with an ergonomic seat and a sturdy metal frame. The solid seat comes in a wide variety of vibrant color options to customize the essential look.
The TA Bar Stool has a total height of 41.3" and a seat height of 29.5". The design would fit in with retro and contemporary home decor in any room of the home.
Brand: AllModern Price: $221 for Set of 2 (usually $297, currently 26% off)
The Aisha Upholstered Bar Stool Set on AllModern is another candidate among the best budget options. These bar stools feature a low-profile modern silhouette with a metal base and low-back seat. They have rustic faux leather upholstery with visible stitching for an authentic appeal.
The comfortable seats feature foam cushion filling, and you can choose from a range of eye-catching upholstery colors. On checkout, you can also choose between a 30.5" seat height and a 23.5" seat height.
The Lunden Swivel Bar Stool from Arhaus cuts a classic profile with a minimalist-inspired silhouette. It fits with the rest of the Lunden dining chair collection and will bring color and comfort to any dining area. It features a solid, reinforced hardwood frame that's SFI-certified and comes with a beautiful hand-stained finish. For comfort, the Lunden boasts a generously-padded upholstered seat and backrest with dense foam made partially from plant-based material.
The Lunden Stool also features a swivel stool seat with a memory swivel motion for smooth rotation. The espresso-toned legs are lacquered for added protection, and the upholstery is made from sustainably certified Crypton® Nomad Performance Fabrics for easy cleaning.
The Anders Low-Back Bar Stool from Apt2B is another faux leather option that would look right at home in any industrial modern space. The faux leather upholstery comes in a versatile Weathered Coffee color. And since these swivel seat bar chairs are sold in a set of two, it creates an attractive price point.
The Anders Low-Back Bar Stool The stool features a black steel base with a pneumatic-lift lever so you can adjust the seat height as needed. It alters the seat height between 23" and 32", which is enough range to work with almost any countertop or breakfast bar.
The Tammy Bar Stool from Lulu & Georgia could give any home bar a contemporary coastal appeal with a woven rattan seat. It features a sleek steel frame and a classic molded seat around which the rattan is woven to create a pop of natural texture. And it's so comfortable that your guests won't want the conversation to end.
The Tammy Bar Stool features a total height of 39.5" and a 31" seat height. It would fit well with most coastal spaces, but the rattan design would also work well in modern kitchens. Breakfast bars and kitchen islands work well when paired with bar stools that have a touch of character.
The Nordviken bar stool from Ikea is comfortable with a curved backrest and deepening in the seat. It's designed to go with the Nordviken bar table and comes in your choice of black and white finishes. The stool has a total height of 39.75" and a seat height of 29.5", and it leads the best budget options on our list.
The high back design with a curved stool shape provides excellent lower back support to prevent your back from getting tired after extended time spent seated. The deepening in the wood seat also distributes your weight evenly over the chair to reduce pressure on your sitting bones.
The Wingback Upholstered Bar Stool from Pottery Barn is designed with world-class comfort in mind. The seat and back are filled with comfortable polyurethane foam and polyester fibers, and they're tightly upholstered in your choice of colors and fabrics. The frame features steel legs with an antique bronze finish and a splayed, tapered style that fits the signature modern look.
The Wingback Upholstered Bar Stool is perfect for adding a touch of glam to the kitchen, but this design would also work well in the living room at a shared counter. On checkout, you can choose between a 26" counter stool and a 31" bar stool height.
The Stanton Stool from Maiden Home is an effortlessly versatile piece. It features natural materials with a hand-carved frame made from solid ash wood and an airy shape. The Stanton Stool also features tailored upholstery to provide casual comfort in any setting.
Customization options include a range of leather, velvet, merino, chenille, and other fabrics in a range of colors for the upholstery and beautiful finishes for the wood. You can also choose between a 26" counter stool and a 30" bar stool height. The Stanton Stool also features a metal footrest that comes in different metal finishes.
“The Stanton is a minimally chic piece. It really lets our craftsmen’s woodworking skills shine, and it seamlessly mixes materiality between a leather or fabric seat with wood legs,” says Stephanie DeAngelis, design advisor at Maiden Home. “It’s a versatile piece to design with and can both a traditional or more modern aesthetic.”
The Bartlett Backless Bar Stool from Fyrn is a bit of a star in restaurants across the United States. It's made for bar-height counters, featuring a comfortable seat and a broad profile to encourage lingering over good conversations or extra drinks. If the Bartlett backless bar stool is durable and lightweight enough to survive daily use in restaurants across the country, we're confident that it can make itself at home anywhere.
You can choose between a wood and leather seat, with vegan leather options available for those who prefer cruelty-free products. Customization options include multiple color selections for the wood finish, metal brackets, and leather seat (if chosen). And the best part is that all parts are 100% repairable or replaceable for life.
The Jai Solid Wood Bar Stool from AllModern offers comfortable seating with a saddle seat and ergonomic footrest. It features clean, sleek lines with a curved, powder-coated metal frame in black for a contemporary industrial style.
The Jai Solid Wood Bar Stool is 30" high. It features angled legs and floor protectors for stability, and a solid iron frame. The saddle seat is made from natural, sustainably-sourced mango wood, which offers a beautiful grain and texture. And at $118 each, it's definitely among the best budget options.
The Reclaimed Elm Emerson Barstool from World Market is a simple, rustic option that would fit right in with most breakfast bars and bar-height counter areas. It has a no-nonsense design with a comfortable seat, ideal for enjoying long conversations, especially with foot rails on all four sides. With a relaxed, classic style, this beauty could fit in with almost any space.
The Reclaimed Elm Emerson Barstool is made from reclaimed solid elm wood and is available in three beautiful finishes. It stands 30" high and is made with a thick, solid wood frame that's lovingly hewn and sanded to create a smooth texture.
Brand: Industry West Price: $212 (currently marked down from $265)
The Ladder Bar Stool from Industry West is a neutral, timeless piece with a classic profile. It boasts a white frame topped with a circular wood seat that's smooth, flat, and perfect for topping with a cushion. The stool's feet feature wooden accents, and the ladder-like rungs create visual appeal while offering several footrest options.
This bar stool stands 29.5" high and does not include customization options. And while it's not mentioned on the product page, this stool might be a good fit for those searching for a stackable option.
The Dakota Adjustable Stool from Urban Outfitters is sold in a set of two. This stool features a swivel seat and has an adjustable height that ranges from 22.75" to 30.75", so it can adjust as your life changes. In addition, it’s made from bamboo and metal, giving it an attractive industrial look. You can use the Dakota Adjustable Stool at any breakfast bar, dining table, bar, counter, desk, or workstation.
The Dakota Adjustable Stool is white with a natural bamboo wood seat. The seat is flat and round, and the stool features a small footrest fixed to the metal frame. It has a smaller profile and could fit in with almost any decor style.
Picking the right bar stool can be a challenge, even if you have the height right. You want something that will last for years to come but still fit in with your space. But don't worry, we've asked the experts for advice to take the work out of finding the right fit. Keep reading to learn more.
Bar stools come in a range of materials to match every space. But the materials impact the performance just as much -- if not more -- than they impact the looks of the piece.
“I suggest that the footrest rung be covered in a metal if you are purchasing a wood stool," Sharon L Sherman from Thyme & Place Design told Living Cozy. "This will protect the finish and the wood from wear and tear created by shoes and boots."
Searching for bar stools with durable metal footrests is a good idea if you anticipate heavy use in shoes and boots. It's also ideal if you want your bar stool to last a lifetime, although wood can be a sturdy, long-lasting material as well.
“Wood is a great material for bar stool frames and seats, offering a traditional look with durability," said Andrea Schumacher. "Upholstered barstools emphasize comfort and can really tailor to your style, this is a great way to add a punch of color! Just make sure the fabric is easy to clean! Metal bar stools often fit the modern aesthetic and are one of the most durable options.”
Think about how you anticipate your bar stools being used and how often you think you'll use them. This can help you decide where your focus needs to be on the materials you choose.
“Regarding the seat, performance grade fabric, leather, or even poly resin (polypropylene) for more sustainable options will be great options to look into when purchasing a set or bundle of bar stools," said Interior Designer Karen Gutierrez of Mackenzie Collier Interiors. "As long as the materials help the bar stool to be more durable, whatever you choose, will work just fine. One thing to keep in mind, though, is to make sure you know how to clean the bar stool whether that is the fabric or if you opt for no fabric at all, be cautious with water stains.”
As with any furniture purchase, you also want to look for quality construction that you can rely on for years to come. And if you can find a brand that offers repairs or replacements, even better.
“These stools tend to be used a lot. Exposed screws are something I would avoid," said Sharon L Sherman. "Durable materials like aluminum are great choices. I personally like to use stools that swivel. This will protect the floor from constantly being pulled in and out. Make sure that the stool has a sturdy base. You don’t want to have a mishap with a tipping stool, especially if they are very heavy."
Style is a much more personal decision, but it can also impact the experience of guests when relaxing at your breakfast bar or table. Look for a style that fits in with your home, sure, but also one that can accommodate your guests and enhance your dining experience.
“We love barstools that have a footrest, this adds a nice touch so people have somewhere to place their feet," Andrea Schumacher Additionally, swivel barstools make it easy for guests to turn around and talk among themselves. Don't cheap out on the material, you’re going to want to spend plenty of time sitting there without the worry of stains or wear and tear."
“Most bar stools will be standard height, but it is crucial that homeowners and consumers pay close attention to the differences between a kitchen island bar stool and a countertop bar stool," Interior Designer Karen Gutierrez told Living Cozy. "Countertops are normally designed in a way that is accessible to anyone that's sitting or standing and can be used with bar counters, adjustable height restaurant tables, kitchen tops, or in any dining area.”
We've already touched on the importance of picking the right height. Counter stools have shorter seats than bar stools, and they're not usually interchangeable. So on average, you'll see heights of around 26" for a counter stool and approximately 30" for a bar stool.
Remember, your seat height for your bar stools should be 10 to 13 inches shorter than your breakfast bar or table.