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As kitchens transition into somewhat of a second living room and dining room, new demands must be met. One of the first is seating. Whether you’re eating, drinking, working or just waiting for water to boil, you’ll want a place to sit down and relax. The best way to introduce some seating? Stools.
Bar stools for the counter or an actual bar (if you have one) are fantastic because you can maximize seating while keeping floor space free. They’re ideal for turning your kitchen into a hangout spot where you can easily serve breakfast to the kids, cocktails to your friends or make video calls while cooking.
What to Know Before Buying Bar Stools
Although bar stools are simple (four legs and a seat) you might be surprised at the variety of options out there. Below are some of the factors you’ll need to consider when picking the right bar stools.
Height: Most stools will be marketed as “bar stools” but they really come in either bar height or counter height. Counter-height stools are usually 24 to 27 inches tall for a counter that’s about 35 to 39 inches tall. True bar stools, on the other hand, measure 28 to 33 inches tall and work best for bars that are 40 to 43 inches tall.
Width: You’ll want 6 to 12 inches of space between each counter stool, so measure your space and check the width of any stools you like before buying.
Weight: The heavier the stool, the better. This will offer more stability and a better overall feel. Heavy bar stools are especially good if you have kids, as they’re less likely to tip over if any tots climb up or move around while seated. Most stools are around 10 to 12 pounds with some weighing closer to 15 pounds.
Style: As with any furniture, you’ll want to consider the style of your kitchen or bar area when picking new stools. Four legs and a seat can take many forms with different materials and designs.
Material: The seat material is very important – and not just for comfort or style. Cloth or leather might be comfortable and attractive, but they’ll stain and wear easier than wood or metal. If you have a messy kitchen or bar area (no judgment), go for something that can be wiped down.
1. Signature Design by Ashley Challiman Bar Stool
Ashley Furniture might be a billion-dollar brand, but the American operation still makes high-quality home goods with attention to design trends. When Ashley started out back in 1945, the brand specialized in wood furniture, and it seems they still know their way around the material.
These Challiman bar stools get top marks in both style and function, earning them our number one spot. This duality is largely thanks to the construction. The legs are made of metal, which provides sturdiness and a rustic, sculptural look. On the bottom, you’ll find L-shaped feet which ups the sturdiness even more.
Veneered plank wood seats continue the rustic look with a distressed, characterful finish. This wood is also great because it can be easily wiped down in case of spills.
The stools work with a range of counters and bars with a versatile 29-inch height, but they’ll be best at a low bar. The only downside with the Challiman stools is their 19.5-inch width, which might be a little large for some kitchens and bars.
PROS: Rustic style, sturdy, well-made.
CONS: Wider design. This is a circular stool; those preferring a square or rectangular stool will want to consider other options on our list.
2. Winsome Square Leg Bar Stool
If you’re looking for simple, versatile stools, go for these wooden stools from Winsome. The brand specializes in straightforward wood furniture and decor items that work for a variety of spaces.
Design-wise, the stools are very straightforward, if not a bit plain for some. But that’s a good thing if you like a minimal look, or if you want something that can blend in with any decor. In terms of dimensions, the stools are ready for nearly any kitchen or bar with a slim 13.6-inch width. This means you can pack a few stools into small spaces (say, tucked under a counter or even stored in the closet for when you need extra seating).
The stools are made with solid wood and come in black, natural or walnut finish. But because these stools are slim and 100% wood, they’re quite lightweight but may not the most sturdy compared to more heavy-duty models on our list.
PROS: Versatile look, slim, easy to assemble.
CONS: May be too plain for some people’s decor sensibilities.
3. Angel Line Cambridge Bar Stools
For low counters, we recommend these 24-inch Cambridge bar stools from Angel Line. They can even be used at a dining table for little ones or adults if you’re suddenly out of seating during a party.
We’re big fans of the stool’s design. They feature wood legs with an espresso finish and grey, faux leather seats. The seats also utilize a handsome nailhead trim. The look is more traditional, so anyone with a modern interior might want to consider something else.
One of the best characteristics of these stools is a heavy, sturdy design weighing in at 15 pounds. This ensures little movement and keeps them safely planted. The faux leather seats are also quite plush, so you can comfortably spend hours in these stools while hanging out or working.
PROS: Heavy-duty to stay put on the floor. Cushions make this a comfortable pick.
CONS: Shorter height than other picks on our list.
4. Nathan James Hylie Counter Bar Stool
This Hylie bar stool from Nathan James is the highest quality pick of the bunch, and it’s definitely worth considering if you want something that merges form with function.
The Hylie’s best feature is a 4-inch thick, cushioned polyester fabric seat. This makes it possibly the most comfortable stool on our list. But the fabric does have one drawback: it can stain. If you have kids or frequent spills in the kitchen, it might not be the best option. However, one way to get around this is by applying FabricGuard right away.
The stool’s legs and footrests are crafted using pinewood which gives them a more premium feel. This high-end construction makes the stool very durable.
Another reason why we like the Hylie stool is its options. You can pick from eight colorways and two different heights (24-inch or 29-inch) to fit any kitchen or bar – no matter the current look.
PROS: Comfortable, stylish, high-quality.
CONS: Lightweight, easily stained.