Adding convenient, space-saving seating, like bar stools, helps you make the most of your kitchen. Whether you have a kitchen island or a tall countertop, the best bar stools can nestle away when not in use and become valuable real estate when you have company.
To find the best bar stools, we researched various options and factored in considerations like size, material, comfort, and assembly. We also spoke to several interior designers for advice on selecting bar stools: Pamela O’Brien, Principal Designer at Pamela Hope Designs; Lisa Tornello, interior designer and founder of Millroad Studio; Lesley Myrick, a luxury interior designer; Yasmine El Sanyoura, a Home Designer at Opendoor; and Lexi Goddard, a Senior Designer at d+k.
“Bar stools are a great addition to any home with a raised counter and knee space,” says O’Brien. “Family and friends will use them frequently for quick meals, visiting, and daily tasks.”
Choosing the right bar stool also reflects how you use your space. “If the kitchen is the family hub, go comfortable. If you use your kitchen as more of a centerpiece while entertaining, go for lightweight options that can be easily moved,” says Goddard.
Our top pick is the Winsome Satori Stool, which can fit both small and large kitchens, thanks to its classic saddle seat and wood frame. It comes in three neutral colors and is lightweight and backless, so you can move it around and slide it under counters.
Who it’s for: People who want a versatile, no frills bar stool at a budget price.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a bar stool with a back.
This wood bar stool has a timeless design that pairs well with any decor. The saddle seat is broad and contoured for extra comfort, and the base features bars to rest your feet. Because the stool is backless, it’s also great for small kitchens—you can move it around or tuck it under a bar when not in use. It comes in three finishes (walnut, black, and natural).
Price at time of publish: $45
- Dimensions: 16 x 18 x 29 inches
- Material: Wood
- Weight Capacity: 220 pounds
Best Budget Bar Stool
Haobo Home Industrial Metal Barstools
You don’t need to empty your bank account to equip your kitchen with bar stools, as evidenced by this set of four wood and metal bar stools. Streamlined and functional, these sturdy bar stools provide enough seating to host small gatherings or supplement your additional seating areas. If you remove the backs, these stools are also stackable. They’re also available in three heights: 24, 26, or 30 inches.
Price at time of publish: $148 for 4
- Dimensions: 16 x 16 x 36.7 inches
- Material: Metal, wood
- Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
Best Upholstered Bar Stool
Wayfair Fondren Bar Stool
Who it’s for: People who want stylish and comfortable bar stools.
Who it isn’t for: People with small children or messy kitchens.
Add a pop of color to your kitchen with these stylish upholstered bar stools. You have plenty of customization options, from the upholstery color (coral, royal blue, green, yellow, or pink) to the legs (either brown or bronze). Plus, the upholstered seat has foam padding and anti-scratch pads under the legs to protect your floors.
While upholstered seating can add a touch of elegance to your home decor, they are more challenging to clean, so if you’re worried about kitchen messes or have small children, you may want to opt for a different design.
Price at time of publish: $399 for 2
- Dimensions: 17.7 x 17.7 x 37.4 inches
- Material: Wood, steel, plywood, polyester
- Weight Capacity: 250 pounds
Best Swivel Bar Stool
World Market Round Wood And Metal Adjustable Swivel Stool
Who it’s for: People who want a rustic and adjustable bar stool.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a modern bar stool.
This industrial stool adds a bit of rustic flair to any kitchen. The round, wooden seat swivels and has an adjustable height, while the curved metal legs give the stools a minimalist look. The seats don’t have a back though and weigh almost 19 pounds, so they’re not great for hours of sitting or redecorating. Still, the vintage look and slender design makes a statement without going overboard.
Price at time of publish: $130
- Dimensions: 14 x 24.5-29.75 inches
- Material: Mango wood, metal
- Weight Capacity: Not listed
Best Adjustable Bar Stool
Flash Furniture Erik Barstool
Who it’s for: People who want a contemporary bar stool with adjustable heights.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a stationary bar stool.
Whether you want to tailor your bar stool to a particular counter height or accommodate different heights, this adjustable bar stool makes adapting easy. The Flash Furniture Erik Bar Stool has a handle underneath the seat that adjusts it from counter to bar height and has a footrest on the base for extra comfort. The stool also has a padded back and upholstered seat that comes in fabric or vinyl.
Price at time of publish: $133
- Dimensions: 20.5 x 21 x 33.5 inches
- Material: Metal, fabric, or vinyl
- Weight Capacity: 330 pounds
Best Metal Bar Stool
Amazon Basics Metal Bar Stool Set
Who it’s for: People who want a durable, stackable bar stool at a budget price.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a bar stool with a back.
For low-maintenance seating, it’s hard to go wrong with a metal bar stool. These Amazon bar stools come in a set of four, are water- and rust-resistant, and are stackable, so you can store them in a space-efficient way. The feet have rubber padding to prevent scratches or damage to your floors, and they come in easy-to-match black or dark gray.
While these stools are ideal for small homes and storage purposes, if you find yourself sitting on your bar stool for an extended time, you may want to select stools with better support and padding for comfort.
Price at time of publish: $154 for 4
- Dimensions: 17 x 17 x 30 inches
- Material: Metal
- Weight Capacity: 200 pounds
Best Rattan Bar Stool
CB2 Cesta Rattan Bar Stool
Who it’s for: People who are willing to splurge on a stylish yet laid back bar stool.
Who it isn’t for: People who want an ultra-durable bar stool.
This stylish rattan bar stool will be a conversation starter in any room. It has a slim silhouette, with matte black iron legs and a rounded seat with a natural (and neutral) look. While this seat is arguably one of the most stylish pieces on our roundup, it does come at a higher cost than most other options, but if you’re willing to splurge then this style can’t be beat.
Price at time of publish: $349
- Dimensions: 19 x 18.25 x 33 inches
- Material: Iron, rattan
- Weight Capacity: Not listed
Best Velvet Bar Stool
AllModern Kody Bar Stool Set
Who it’s for: People who want luxe-looking bar stools.
Who it isn’t for: People who want larger bar stools.
Add a little extra luxury to your house with these velvet bar stools. They have a cushioned bucket seat upholstered with soft velvet, making them the most inviting seat in any kitchen. Plus, they come in a variety of colors, including neutrals like gray and black as well as bolder hues like blush pink and sapphire blue. They are narrow compared to other bar stools, so they’re best for smaller counters or rooms rather than sprawling spaces.
Price at time of publish: $184 for 2
- Dimensions: 16 x 14.25 x 32 inches
- Material: Metal, manufactured wood, velvet
- Weight Capacity: 250 pounds
Best Leather Bar Stool
Pottery Barn Brenner Leather Bar Stool
Who it’s for: People looking for a sleek, leather bar stool.
Who it isn’t for: People looking for a low-maintenance bar stool.
Sleek and comfortable, these leather bar stools can fit seamlessly into any room. The one-piece sculpted seat is made with full-grain leather with natural markings and variations that make it unique to your home. You can order the stool individually or as a pair, and at only 8.5 pounds each, you’ll have no problem rearranging your kitchen or bar area as needed.
Just remember that because they are genuine leather, keep them out of direct sunlight and avoid cleaning the seat with detergents.
Price at time of publish: $458 for 2
- Dimensions: 17 x 16.5 x 34 inches
- Material: Steel, leather
- Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
Best Wooden Bar Stool
Laurel Foundry Modern Farmhouse Almaguer Bar Stool
Who it’s for: People who want a durable bar stool with back support.
Who it isn’t for: People whose style is more mid-century.
Whether you have a farmhouse aesthetic or just want a versatile bar stool, wood pairs beautifully with almost any decor style. This bar stool is made from solid acacia wood and rubberwood, making it both sturdy and traditional in style. It has a slightly molded seat and a full back to let you sit comfortably for hours. This pick is one of the heavier options at 21 pounds, so keep that in mind if you want to move your bar stools around easily.
Price at time of publish: $173
- Dimensions: 18.25 x 18.5 x 29 inches
- Material: Acacia wood, rubberwood
- Weight Capacity: 250 pounds
Our top pick is the Winsome Satori Stool, a solid wood bar stool with a sleek design that can suit most kitchens. It has a contoured seat and backless design that can nestle comfortably under your countertops. If you prefer a bar stool with more cushioning and a back, you may want to consider the Mercury Row Fondren Bar Stool, which is sold as a pair and comes in various unique colorways.
How to Shop for a Bar Stool Like a Pro
“Many homeowners choose stools that are too big for their space,” says Tornello. She recommends looking at the width, depth, and height before picking your bar stools.
- Width: You want to leave enough space between your stools for people to sit comfortably. “If the widest part of your stool is 16-18 inches, allow 21-22 inches of space per stool. If the widest part of your stool is 19-22 inches, allow 24-25 inches of space per stool. If your stool swivels or has arms, leave even more space,” recommends Tornello.
- Depth: “Buyers rarely consider the depth, and this is where a lot of mistakes happen,” says Tornello. Some of the stool should sit under the counter overhang when not in use, but you also need enough room behind the stool for a walkway when in use. “For spaces that are narrow, we often recommend stools with no backs that can tuck under the overhang. Saddle stools tend to not be as deep and are a good option for these spaces,” she says.
- Height: Whether you have a counter or a bar, measure the topmost point and leave plenty of legroom between the top of the stool and your countertop.
Bar stools come in various materials including wood, metal, steel, aluminum, fabric, leather, and more. The best materials will depend on personal preference and specific needs. However, bar stools are “one of the busiest [seats] in the house, and material matters,” says Tornello. For families with young kids, she recommends stools made with low-maintenance materials such as wood, woven leather, or metal.
How you use your stools will also impact what material you choose. “If you plan to use the stools for eating, easy-to-clean surfaces are best. If you plan to lounge in your stools, soft upholstery and ergonomic shapes are desirable,” says O Brien.
Consider whether you want a back on your stool, as that affects style and comfort. “Large stools with tall backs and armrests tend to be heavier and more substantial, which can anchor a large island. Backless or lower-backed stools without arms are lighter, easier to move, and might be better for a more minimal look or around a smaller bar area,” says O’Brien.
“If you don’t plan on sitting in the space for long periods of time, then a stool without a back, especially if you have low countertops, is a great option,” says El Sanyoura. “However, if you are using the space for everyone in the home to convene, then I suggest getting stools that have backs because you want the place where people frequent to be comfortable.”
Most bar stools require some assembly, but if you’re not particularly handy, you may want to read through the description and reviews to see how involved any assembly process is. Also, double-check what tools are required and if they come included.
Questions You Might Ask
Are bar stools with backs better?
Bar stools with backs aren’t necessarily better than backless stools, but it comes down to your usage and design preferences. “A bar stool with a back is arguably more comfortable for long periods of time, so if your bar stool is going to be doing the job of a dining chair (you eat dinner at your kitchen island every day, for example), a stool with a back is ideal,” says Myrick. “If the stool is used more for perching on while grabbing a quick breakfast or having a casual conversation over a glass of wine, a backless stool is just fine.”
What kind of stool is best for a kitchen island?
Since a kitchen island tends to be a busy area where people gather (and spill things), you want to consider the durability of a bar stool, and choose a material that can withstand high-traffic use, recommends Myrick. Also, consider how you will use your bar stools. If you want people to hop on and off for casual meals and parties, you may opt for a backless bar stool, but if you want people to be seated comfortably for full meals, you may want to choose something with a back.
“For a modern kitchen style, I love sturdy stools with metal legs and upholstered seating and backing. They are sleek without being uncomfortable. Leather is a great material for the kitchen area because it is also super easy to clean when accidents happen,” says El Sanyoura. “I also like stools with swivel chairs because they give guests the ability to turn around and engage with others without having to get up from their seats. If you’re looking for ways to bring warmth into your kitchen, opt for wood stools with a cushion or upholstered seat. Bringing in natural elements like this will help add layers to the kitchen and make it feel more lived in!”
What’s the difference between a bar stool and a counter stool?
The difference between a bar stool and a counter stool is their height. “Bar stools are for bars, which are typically 42 inches high, and counter stools are for counter height, which is typically 36 inches high,” says O’Brien.
Whatever your bar or counter height is, you need to be able to sit comfortably at it, so “choose a stool that has a seat which is approximately 12 inches lower than your counter,” says O’Brien. “That means bar stool seats are about 30 inches above the floor, whereas counter stool seats are about 24 inches above the floor.”
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Lesley Chen, a contributing writer for Real Simple with six years of experience writing commerce, home, and lifestyle stories. To compile this list she thoroughly researched bar stools and rounded up the best options based on size, materials, back vs. backless, and assembly. For expert advice, Lesley spoke to Pamela O’Brien, Principal Designer at Pamela Hope Designs; Lisa Tornello, interior designer and founder of Millroad Studio; Lesley Myrick, a luxury interior designer; Yasmine El Sanyoura, a Home Designer at Opendoor; and Lexi Goddard, a Senior Designer at d+k.