With bar stools at the island or counter, you can host fun cocktail parties or share meals with your family in the kitchen or on the patio. This casual yet elevated décor is often the first thing people see when they enter a space. So don’t make them an afterthought. Take the time to find the best bar stools for entertaining your family and friends.
As you shop for the best bar stools for your kitchen or patio, you could get overwhelmed by all the options. Read on to learn about important shopping considerations and what to expect from a high-quality product.
- BEST OVERALL: Walker Edison Industrial Faux Leather Set of 2 Stools
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Winsome Satori Stool
- UPGRADE PICK: Christopher Knight Home Ogden Bar Stool 2-Pc Set
- BEST BACK SUPPORT: Boraam Augusta Swivel Stool
- BEST CUSHIONED: Angel Line Cambridge Bar Stool Set of 1, Cushion
- BEST SWIVEL: Roundhill Furniture Swivel Bonded Leather Bar Stool
- BEST FOLDABLE: Linon Triena X Back Folding Stool
- BEST FOR OUTDOORS: AC Pacific Modern Industrial Metal Set of 2 Barstools
Bar stools are not something you buy on impulse. From size to color to comfort, there is much to consider when you select a set for your home. Just because you like a design does not mean it is the one. When shopping for bar stools, always consider the following.
Width and Height
Don’t find out too late that the stools of your dreams are too low or too high. Even at the right height, a full set of your favorite bar stools could be too wide to fit in their designated space. Always measure carefully before buying.
Stools typically come in two heights:
- Counter-height stools measure around 24 to 26 inches.
- Bar-height designs range from 28 to 30 inches.
Certain extra-tall bar stools stand as tall as 36 inches. For your comfort, we advise budgeting for 7 to 14 inches between the seat of your stools and the underside of your counter or bar.
A stool’s width will also help determine how many you can fit in the designated space. If your stools are too tightly packed, they will be too inconvenient to use. You’ll want 6 to 12 inches between each pair of stools so your family or guests can sit comfortably together.
Weight affects both ease of use and safety. When a bar stool is too heavy, pulling it out from under the counter or stowing it away becomes a strenuous affair. If you have kids, heavy stools will be inaccessible for them. On the other hand, if a stool is too light, it may topple over when a stout person sits on it or when a kid starts to climb it.
A stool weighing between 12 and 30 pounds is usually a reasonable middle ground. Stools with more weight at their base will be less likely to topple over.
Common materials for bar stools are wood, metal, and rattan. When selecting a design, consider the desired aesthetic for your kitchen—whether you aim for minimalist, luxurious, rustic, or industrial—as well as quality and cost. If your budget is limited, simplicity is key. In the right space, a plain wooden stool can look just as smart as a fancy upholstered piece.
If you have children or you plan to use your stools outside, you may want to avoid fabric or at least opt for a model that is easy to wipe down. To protect your floors, be sure to add felt pads under your stool legs, especially if the chosen material is abrasive.
Before you shop for bar stools, assess the design of your kitchen or outdoor space. What is the color scheme? Which tones pop out? If the décor is understated, your bar stools can bring a splash of color or bold design. If, on the other hand, the room is already bold enough, you may want to opt for a subtler style.
Also determine how often you’ll use them. If you intend to eat dinner at the island every night, avoid bulky impractical designs. Frequent social functions may warrant a swivel stool so guests can jump from one conversation to another. If, however, you want stools mainly as decoration, aesthetics can outweigh practicality.
If you plan to use your bar stools often and for extended periods of time—for instance, if your kitchen doubles as your office, or your island is also your dining table or a kids’ homework station—you may want cushioned stools for extra comfort. Some models include a thin cushion, while others go all out with padding on the seat, backrest, and armrests.
Cushions, however, are tougher to clean. If you anticipate frequent spills, a cushionless ergonomic seat may be the better alternative. It espouses the shape of your behind without being dry-clean only.
If you intend to sit for long periods of time, back support is just as important as seat padding. Backless stools save space and look sleek, but they can also lead to bad posture and back pain.
A high backrest provides more support, while a shorter one may allow for more freedom of movement if you get up regularly. If your stools swivel, make sure that backrests won’t hit one another at every turn. If needed, budget extra room in between each pair.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
If selecting an indoor bar stool is a question of style and practicality, outdoor ones should be designed to withstand all kinds of weather. They should be sturdy, heavier, and waterproof. If not, you may need a tarp to cover them after each use. You may also have to tie them down so they don’t blow away in the wind.
Alternatively, you can also opt for stackable designs, which you can easily store away when the weather runs amok. Outdoor stools will need to be cleaned more frequently, so any cushions should be removable.
Our Top Picks
Now that you’re equipped with our list of considerations, it’s time to start shopping! Here are eight of our favorite bar stools.
These Walker Edison stools are neither bulky nor extravagant. Their minimalistic design makes them a safe and classy choice for most kitchens. The synthetic leather upholstery is sleek and easy to clean. Their thin metal legs are wide enough to keep you stable without tangling with other stools. The curved, cushioned seat includes a backrest for long dinners and working at home.
This model is available in three heights: bar height, counter height, and chair height. Measuring 18 inches in length and 22 in width, it will hold adults and children comfortably. At 30 pounds, it is also stable and safe, without being inconveniently heavy. If you add felt pads under the legs, you may not even need to lift it at all. You can slide it under the counter without fearing for your floors. And the best part: you get two stools for the listed price.
The Winsome Satori Stool is simple yet effective. Its wooden design and walnut-colored finish make it a stylish choice at a reasonable price. Padding-free, it instead relies on its wide-contoured top and slightly curved seat to provide comfort and support.
It is available in either counter height at 24 inches or bar height at 29 inches. Measuring 17 inches in width, it is narrow enough to allow for multiple stools in small areas. But it will still accommodate most adults and children. For parents, note that this lighter-weight stool may topple over when a little one climbs it. But the four sturdy square legs should keep it steady under most circumstances.
Looking for a more luxurious alternative to your current bar stools? The Christopher Knight Home Ogden Stools are great design pieces for the kitchen or living room. Their beige upholstery paired with espresso wooden legs brings subtle character to any room. The sumptuously cushioned seat, backrest, and armrests offer total comfort. They swivel, which makes them a great choice for social gatherings at home.
They may be on the pricier side, but they come in a set of two. If you intend to buy more than one set, keep in mind that one alone is 22 inches wide. The curved backrest and armrests make them less suitable for tight spaces. They are, however, perfectly suited for lounging areas, home bars, and spacious L- or U-shaped counters.
The Boraam Augusta Stool comes with a sturdy, curved, and cushioned backrest for consistent comfort and no back pain. Its solid hardwood finish with black faux leather is classy and versatile. This stool can help create a pub atmosphere or an elegant café aesthetic. It is equipped with a swivel seat and padded with high-density foam. It is sturdy, comfortable, and easy to keep clean.
At 16 inches, the seat’s width is great for narrow spaces, although you should note that the backrest is a smidgen wider. It is available at either 24 or 29 inches high, for your counter or your bar. With its flared legs and 27 pounds of mass, it is stable and safe. If you have children, keep in mind that the swivel seat could pose a risk if they try to climb it alone.
The Angel Line Cambridge Bar Stool is all comfort and no bulk. With its faux leather cushion trimmed with nailheads, it is comfortable and elegant. Its square legs are stable and won’t get tangled with the neighboring stool. At 17 pounds, it is neither too light nor too heavy. You can easily take it anywhere you need extra seating in the house, and you won’t topple over in a moment of distraction.
The seat measures 18.5 inches wide, which should be comfortable for most adults and children. Its backless design makes it conveniently stowable under your table, counter, or island. If you spill anything, no worries! The upholstery is nonabsorbent. A little wipe will clean it up.
This stool by Roundhill Furniture is not your typical swivel stool. With its checked faux leather seat pad and sleek chrome base, you get a cozy feel and modern aesthetic in one streamlined design. It includes a padded backrest and a 2-inch cushion for extra comfort. The weight distributed in its sturdy base makes it stable and safe for all users.
It is airlift-adjustable, from 21.5 to 30 inches high. This means you can use it anywhere, from a dining table to a bar. At 17 inches wide, multiple stools will fit in tight spaces and still accommodate most adults and children. The simple yet elegant style makes it suitable for a variety of interior designs.
When you imagine foldable stools, you may think “plastic” and “unfashionable.” Neither is the case with the Linon Triena X Back Stool. With its espresso wooden finish and cushioned seat, it is just as stylish and comfortable as nonfoldable alternatives. But it stows easily in closets or other storage areas as extra seating for company.
Extra structural support at the front and rear further stabilizes the legs. The seat is 16 inches by 17 inches, making it slightly longer than most stools but still a standard width. The backrest provides great back support. To clean it, just wipe it down.
Who says outdoor stools need to look coarse and rough? With their distressed black finish, these AC Pacific Metal Barstools look modern and sleek. They are made of sturdy steel, and their peg-shaped legs are reinforced for extra safety and durability. Without upholstery or cushions, they are waterproof, weather-resistant, and easy to clean. The backrest is easy to assemble but also optional if you prefer backless stools.
At 11 pounds, they are among the most lightweight options on the market. Leaving them outside unattended may see them getting blown away by the wind, but their airy design makes them easy to move and store when not in use. Measuring 17 inches in both length and width, they can comfortably accommodate most adults. Plus, you get two stools for the listed price!
If you still have questions before you start shopping for bar stools, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions by buyers like you.
Q. Should bar stools match cabinets?
Consider the color scheme and style of your entire kitchen before selecting bar stools. The color or tone you choose to accent may match your cabinets, your countertop, your appliances, or any other decorative element.
Q. How much overhang do you need for bar stools?
A comfortable seating area should provide around 10 to 12 inches of overhang for comfortable knee room. A deeper overhang is possible but may require additional reinforcement or support.
Q. How do you make your bar stool more stable?
When a loose screw isn’t to blame, uneven flooring may be the culprit. To solve the issue, either place a mat under each stool or add extra floor pads under the legs or base.