10 Best Bar Stools for Bars, Counters and Outdoors

Whether at the kitchen island, outdoor bar or your adjustable-height desk, bar stools are a must. Here are some of our favorites.

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10 Best Bar Stools For Bars, Counters And OutdoorsVIA MERCHANT

The best bar stools bring a luxe look and extra complexity to counters, basement bars and tall office desks. That’s one reason why interior designers project that they’ll only grow in popularity during 2024. “Adding texture (whether it’s a pattern or textured material), can add a lot of depth and interest to the space,” says Melanie Zaelich, Owner, Home Stylist and Interior Designer at Happy Place Interiors.

A good bar stool not only ties together a room, but it also offers additional seating for family and friends during the holidays and house parties. That’s why no matter what style you opt for, it’s crucial to find a bar stool that holds up to the test of time.

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Kody Unfinished Stool via merchant

Best Overall Bar Stools

Kody Unfinished Stool

When it comes to the overall best bar stools, versatility ranks pretty high on our list of importance. Whether it’s for a standard basement bar or a counter-height dining nook, this compact stool blends in seamlessly. Between the bouncy foam-filled bucket seat and sturdy steel frame, this classy chair oozes quality.

As a bonus, choose between two different heights — bar height and counter height — and 15 color and material selections. Ringing up at just over $100 per chair, they’re a worthy (and inexpensive) investment. Keep an eye on these, since they’re also frequently on sale.

Pros

  • Sturdy steel frame
  • Cozy foam-filled bucket seat
  • 15 different colors
  • Two height choices
  • Front bar footrest
  • Easy to assemble
  • Lightweight at only 12 pounds

Cons

  • Small, but still holds most adults under 250 pounds

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Fitz Counter Stools via merchant

Best Counter Height Bar Stools

Fitz Counter Stools

Adding additional seating to kitchen counters saves kitchen space, but counter height bar stools adhere to different height guidelines than traditional bar stools. These Scandi-inspired stools sit at 24 inches tall — the ideal height for the standard 36-inch kitchen counter. Available in both walnut and oak finishes, each stool boasts a selection of four different cushion shades.

The curved backrest offers additional support and comfort and a solid wood splayed frame makes them incredibly sturdy. Spot-clean any spills with a damp cloth to keep them looking fresh for years.

Pros

  • Fits under most standard counters at 24 inches tall
  • Solid, sturdy rubberwood construction
  • Two finishes and four cushion colors available
  • Built-in footrests
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • May require extra attention during assembly

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Farrah Patio Bar Stool Ecomm Via Wayfair.com1 via merchant

Farrah Patio Bar Stool

Best Outdoor Bar Stools

Simple and constructed from durable marine resin plastic, these bucket seat outdoor barstools arrive contoured for extra comfort. Apart from being weather-, water-, UV-, rust- and stain-resistant, each seat comfortably holds up to 300 pounds. Because the diamond-beveled seat doesn’t allow water to pool, cleaning is as easy as wiping the stool down with a damp cloth.

It’s safe to leave them out year-round, making them the most low-fuss option for outdoor bars. Even better, the smart modern design doesn’t skimp on style.

Pros

  • 300-pound weight capacity
  • Safe for year-round outdoor use
  • Durable marine resin plastic materials
  • Contoured seat for extra comfort
  • Resistant to water, UV rays, stains and weather

Cons

  • Not as comfortable as options with cushioned seats

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Pippen Swivel Bar & Counter Stool (set Of 2) Wayfair via Wayfair.com

Best Swivel Bar Stools

Pippen Swivel Bar Stools

These Pippen bar stools are meant to stand out. The gold basket-style seats shine, especially accentuated with comfortable cushions, atop gold-finish metal legs. Want to take it up a notch? Add a bar cart accent or some sheepskin-style throws for extra texture and verve.

Bonus: These stools are GreenGuard certified, meaning they meet industry standards for low chemical emissions. So your space can be as safe as it is stylish.

Pros

  • Striking swivel style
  • Three height options
  • 330-pound weight capacity
  • Rubber foot caps protect the floor
  • Easy to assemble
  • GreenGuard certified

Cons

  • Limited color options

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Best Bar Stools With Backs

Ashley Valebeck Modern Swivel Barstool

For modern farmhouse or rustic-inspired spaces, this two-tone bar stool is a simple way to revolutionize your kitchen space. Thanks to simple assembly and an assortment of customization options, over 5,000 Amazon reviewers contributed to its near-perfect 4.6-star rating.

“These bar stools are beautiful. They have that farmhouse vibe and the colors go perfectly with my black-and-white decor theme. Very easy to put together with little assistance to hold the round base,” says verified purchaser Elizabeth B.

Pros

  • 360-degree swivel seat
  • Over 5,000 positive reviews
  • Three height options
  • Five different finishes
  • Solid wood and metal construction

Cons

  • Backrest requires a Phillips screwdriver to install

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Braxton Upholstered Velvet Bar Stool via merchant

Best Modern Bar Stools

Braxton Upholstered Velvet Bar Stool

Some folks with small kitchens prefer utilizing their counter for dining. However, these modern stools are so cozy that you may choose to use them over a dining table most nights. Available in both bar- and counter-compatible heights, the metal legs and soft, velvet material make them an inviting spot to enjoy breakfast.

Pros

  • Modern, stylish design
  • Plush velvet and foam upholstery
  • Curved backrest
  • Ergonomic armrests
  • Stain- and rust-resistant
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • May require two people for assembly

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Amazon Basics Solid Wood Saddle-Seat Barstool

Best Wooden Bar Stools

Ranking as number one top-sellers on Amazon, these saddle-seat bar stools are also some of the best budget bar stools online, ringing up at only around $30 per stool. Choose from simple walnut, black or white options and enjoy a choice of three different heights.

The generous 300-pound weight capacity ensures that these sturdy stools withstand the test of time. A contoured saddle-style seat — rather than a solid plank — offers additional comfort not found in most wood stools. They’re also compact, a feature that’s ideal for small kitchens.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Over 27,000 positive ratings
  • Contoured seat
  • Solid wood construction
  • Metal cover on front rail protects finish

Cons

  • Not suitable for small children

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Best Leather Bar Stools via merchant

Best Leather Bar Stools

Brenner Bar Stools

The Brenner bar stools from Pottery Barn do classic style right with their semi-aniline real leather seats. This means the leather is lightly treated with a non-toxic dye that penetrates through the leather, rather than sitting on the surface. This allows the hide’s natural markings to show through and makes each piece distinctive and easy to clean.

The molded leather seat features a shallow scoop that makes for a pretty and comfortable perch. Welded steel legs provide the perfect foil to the warm leather. The leather is available in cognac, cool gray and sleek black to fit just about any modern, industrial or traditional setting.

Pros

  • Constructed from real semi-aniline leather
  • Generous 275-pound weight capacity
  • Lightweight at just over six pounds
  • Leather available in two different shades
  • Welded steel frame

Cons

  • Sunlight will discolor leather over time

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Gable Metal Bar Stool via merchant

Best Metal Bar Stools

Gable Metal Bar Stool

A stylish outdoor kitchen bar deserves some equally stylish outdoor bar stools, like these metal ones from West Elm. A minimalistic design and small footprint make it perfect for both compact patio spaces and indoor spots like basement bars.

Despite the sturdy aluminum material, at only 12 pounds they’re lightweight enough to move from place to place. It’s easy to stash them indoors during winter.

Pros

  • Compatible with indoor and outdoor bars
  • Durable aluminum frame
  • Small enough to store during winter
  • Nylon glides on feet to protect floors
  • Contract-grade quality

Cons

  • Expensive

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Boucle And Rattan Counter Bar Stool via merchant

Best Rattan Bar Stools

Boucle and Rattan Counter Bar Stool

We can’t find anything that rivals the stylish design of these rattan bar stools from Nathan James. The striking, modern rounded back features woven natural rattan paired with a real oak finish frame. While often found on outdoor wicker furniture, rattan also adds a retro-vintage vibe to indoor spaces.

Generously padded seats add an extra dimension of comfort to these striking mixed-media seats. Choose from either brushed light brown or warm pine finishes.

Pros

  • Natural woven cane backing
  • Solid wood frame
  • Fun and stylish retro look
  • Durable linen weave seat

Cons

  • Pricey

What To Look for When Buying Bar Stools

There are hundreds of different bar stools available. When searching for the perfect piece to tie a room together, Zaelich advises considering the following:

  • Aesthetic/Style: The stools should follow suit to the style of your home and furnishings. A mid modern kitchen could have bright orange bar stools whereas a traditional home would likely have leather or upholstered stools.
  • Quantity: Every stool is a different width, so measure your island and the stools together and keep around four to six inches in between.
  • Material: Wood, metal and leather or vegan leather are the easiest to keep clean as you can just wipe them down. Fabric brings a softer texture into a space that is typically full of hard surfaces and therefore brings an element of balance and comfort.
  • Color: Consider whether the stools are near a kitchen table and what color and material those chairs are. Keep the stools complementary to the chairs, but not matching exactly. The stools should have contrast to the counter.
  • Weight: Consider who will be pulling the stool in and out and how heavy it is to move.
  • Dimensions: The dimensions are important. Measure the length of the island and consider how much space is behind you. Consider how deep the seat is and how much it would stick out from the overhang when someone is sitting in it. This would typically add another 18 inches or so.

There are also some considerations that depend on your unique home scenario, i.e. kid-friendly options for families. Whether you’re seeking the best bar stools for kitchen islands or a minimalist design for finished basement bars, there are a few types of stools to consider. According to Zaelich, these are the main features to look for:

  • Backs vs. Backless: The most important feature to consider is whether or not you want a back and if you have space for a back. Having a back is much more comfortable and is better for young kids.
  • Swivel: Many stools swivel, which can make getting in and out easier, but also the kids might have too much fun on them.
  • Foot Rest: A footrest is also a consideration for most people.

No matter what type of bar stool you’re searching for, the options below are a good place to begin. Our shopping experts included options for every budget and decor style. Updating any kitchen or coffee bar space is simple thanks to these researched picks — all you have to do is click “add to cart.”

Why You Should Trust Us

I’m an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. My work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune and Teen Vogue, among many others. I’m currently living my own how-to story as my husband and I work through a complete gut remodel on our 1921 home — while parenting three young children.

Emily Way is an Associate Shopping Editor for Family Handyman with experience researching products and recommending the best designs to consumers. She researched and updated this piece. Way consulted Melanie Zaelich, owner, home stylist and interior designer at Happy Place Interiors.

Melanie Zaelich is an accomplished, award-winning interior designer, known for her down-to-earth approach and creativity. As the only interior designer with a consult-based, à la carte business model in the Twin Cities, Melanie is transforming the way people experience interior design. Her work has garnered regional and national design awards. Melanie is an associate member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), an active member of Women in Construction and a True Color Expert.

How We Found the Best Bar Stools

Finding the best bar stool is about more than just looks. That’s why our shopping experts combed the internet, locating stools that meet every expectation for our readers. We found highly-rated bar stools compatible with multiple budgets, bar heights and built styles. Using criteria we’d use for our own purchases, our shopping editors take into consideration the opinions of family and friends along with seasoned interior design experts.

FAQ

What is the best bar stool height?

To find the best bar stool height, Zaelich recommends breaking out the tape measure. “Measure the length of the island and consider how much space is behind you. Consider how deep the seat is and how much it would stick out from the overhang when someone is sitting in it. This would typically add another 18 inches or so,” she says.

In general, standard bar stool height breaks up into three different categories according to Zaelich:

  • Counter-height stools range from 24 to 26 inches tall.
  • Bar-height stools (or pub stools) are 28 to 32 inches tall.
  • Extra-tall barstools are rare. Most people have counter or bar height. Extra tall bar height is around 34 to 40 inches tall.

What is the difference between bar stools and counter stools?

Apart from the height differences described above, counter stools and bar stools are pretty similar in construction. “However, each stool has different functionalities and features,” notes Zaelich. “For instance, a bar stool is more likely going to have a bar between legs for a footrest and a counter stool may not.”

What can I do with bar stools without a bar?

“There are many ways bar stools could be repurposed,” says Zaelich. “Bar stools with wooden legs could be cut down to create counter stools. Round, backless stools could be used for plant stands and those with wooden legs could be cut down to create small side tables, footrests or a cute stepping stool.”

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.