You might remember that below photo from a post Emily did earlier this summer about finding her dream dining room chairs. Well, something to come out of that post that we weren’t expecting was your reaction to the pairing of her vintage Cherner chairs and her existing Hedgehouse barstools. The TDLR feedback? They don’t work together. Hard stop. In fact, there was a 21-comment thread built off of the first comment of the day alone (not to mention the plethora of other standalone “ditch the barstools” snippets amongst the 242 total comments). Noted. So what now? She mentioned in Monday’s post that she’s gearing up to tinker with her LA home, so stay tuned for more updates at an EHD blog near you, but it prompted us to do a little “window shopping” for barstools to see what’s out there right now.
A few things to keep in mind if you’re on the hunt for barstools for yourself:
If you’re looking for kid-friendly options, you’ll want something that’s a bit heavier and really solid. Imagine a little person clawing their way up a flimsy little barstool… a disaster waiting to happen. Look for something around 12 to 15 pounds. Anything too heavy and those tiny muscles won’t be able to move the chair to get into it, but anything lighter, and it would be a tipping hazard. If you have full-grown people in your house, heavier is usually better for sturdiness and stability in general. Another key feature to keep in mind with kids is to try to get something with a back and with a swivel (which could help with the in-and-out on a heavier stool). Though I totally get that an awesome vintage version (you know, like these from Chairish) might be stylistically enticing, you might want to ignore their siren call if pint-sized marinara handprints are of concern.
At the mountain house, Emily struggled with finding a barstool for her island that satisfied her form and function desires, and landed on these from Industry West that work both for long-sitting-tush-comfort and kid-friendly-ness.
On the other side of the kitchen on the peninsula, she used these from Article. Because they are used less often than the ones at the island, there was less of a concern for long-term comfort (though luckily, the cushioned seat on these happen to be nice for a good amount of sitting time).
Basically, think about what you’re looking to accomplish and how often your stools will be used (and by who). If you see yourself and your family using your bar stools every day (or say, it’s the only dining seating in your home because you don’t have a stand-alone dining area), something with a back and a cushion that’s easy enough to pull out and push back is what you’re going to want to look for. But if they are more a “visual space filler” that might get a perch from a kitchen visitor here and there, maybe keeping your pick more streamlined and architectural is the way to go. Up to you. You’re the boss, applesauce.
That being said, there ARE some “rules” (well, more need-to-knows, really) to consider on your shopping journey. Fact: Stools typically come in two heights—counter-height and bar-height, but…how do you know what you actually need in your own home? Whether you’re pairing them with a taller table or adding them to an island, here is a quick “cheat sheet” to know what to use when:
Barstool Buying Guide Cheat Sheet
If your counter/table (the bottom of it, not the top, since it’s really about where the leg can comfortably fit) is…
- roughly 35-37 inches high, you’ll want to go with a counter-height barstool that is typically anywhere from 23 to 28 inches floor to seat.
- anywhere between 41-43 inches high, a bar-height stool is what you need, which runs from 29 to 32 inches floor to seat.
- anything above 44 inches (likely something custom), this falls into the “extra tall” category of barstool, with a 33- to 36-inch floor-to-seat height.
Now, there’s also the question of HOW MANY barstools to use comfortably. Your mind might jump to “I need four people to be able to sit at this island” so hence you buy four stools, but if you want comfort (i.e. not being elbow to elbow when seated), you want to make sure to allow about 6 to 12 inches between the edge of each barstool.
Alright, now that you’re a barstool shopping boss, it’s time to put your expert knowledge to work. We rounded up lots of options in different styles and budgets, new and vintage, and both with backs and backless for both counter-height and bar-height needs. One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of big-box stores actually carry both heights in a style, so if you see something you like in counter-height, for instance, but need something a little taller, click through because you’ll likely find more options.
1. Hayden Round Stool | 2. Perch Stool | 3. Cora Velvet Counter Stool | 4. Iron Modernist Stool | 5. 1970s Mid-Century Modern Faux Ostrich Upholstered Stools | 6. Dalfred | 7. Ercol Originals Counter Stool | 8. Bordero Adjustable | 9. Rocket Stool | 10. Skogsta | 11. The X Stool | 12. Carlisle Metal Counter Stool | 13. Calvin Counter Stool | 14. Rhodes Metal & Wood Seat Square Counter Stool | 15. Gordon Stool
I’m really into the shape of #4 and the down-to-earth-yet-glam #1 with both brass and leather. If you have a HEALTHY budget, #2 has really special details and a unique silhouette. The subtle two-tone wood situation is also a nice touch. On the flip of that is #13 ($27!!!), #10 which has a pretty small seat but is VERY cute IRL, and #14 which comes in at $55 a stool. The white metal frame on that one would be nice against wood-toned cabinets for a little contrast or even to blend in in a white kitchen. Oh, and #5 (a vintage pick from Chairish) would be so great reupholstered in a punchy fabric, or maybe even something really sleek like a dark emerald green leather.
1. Meisel | 2. Tejido | 3. Lenox Velvet Counter Stool | 4. Paton Black Oak Windsor | 5. Modern Retro Metal Chair | 6. Prouve Stool | 7. Rake Brass | 8. Late 20th Century Barstools | 9. Ali Counter Stool | 10. Classic Café Walnut Stools | 11. Cline Stool | 12. Naomi Dempsey Flannel Tufted Stool | 13. Fanbyn | 14. Silas Seagrass | 15. Cosmopolitan Astor Upholstered Stool | 16. The Camp Stool | 17. Mid Century Luna Stool | 18. Slope Upholstered Stool | 19. Portside Stool | 20. Modern Petal Stool | 21. Sylmar Counter Chair | 22. Sling Stool | 23. Dakota Adjustable Wood Seat Barstool | 24. Transit Stool
We’ve long been a fan of the metal and leather strap thing going on with #1 from Jayson Home, but also the natural texture of #2 is also SO good. #22 are the stools in Emily’s mountain house, #5 is SO rad (and from AMAZON), but also, pretty obsessed with the director’s chair with a twist from #8.
1. Hanna Bar Stool | 2. Paton Black Oak Windsor Bar Stool | 3. Wrought Iron Bar Stools by Arthur Umanoff | 4. Burano White Leather Sling Stool | 5. Domino Bar Stool | 6. RD Bar Stool | 7. Jeanneret Barstool | 8. Primitivo Blue Velvet Bar Stool | 9. Era Counter Stool | 10. Azalea Mink Bar Stools | 11. Joe Colombo Birillo Swivel Bar Stools | 12. Maxx Metal Bar Stool | 13. Mid Century Bertoia Counter Stool | 14. Silver Orchid Gordon Upholstered Gold Metal Barstool | 15. Jack Leather and Wood Stool | 16. Anna Stool | 17. Barstool With Backrest | 18. Natural Wicker Loren Bar Stool | 19. Modern Upholstered Bar Stool | 20. Perkins Bar Stool | 21. Siro Bar Stool
We’ve entered bar-height stool territory now. A few favorites: #5 (always a fan of anything caned), #9 for its classic design, #10 for the glam yet cool shape and material, and #16 for the delicate design that somehow still feels edgy (Emily considered these HARD for the mountain house).
1. Randle Tractor Bar Stool | 2. Shaw Walnut Stool | 3. Jeanneret Stool | 4. Perch Bar Stool | 5. Doré Barstool | 6. Joi Leather Bar Stool | 7. Alban Bar Stool | 8. Spot Barstool | 9. Antonio Sciortino Bar Stool | 10. Champagne Cork Bar Stool | 11. Pivot Bar Stool | 12. Mid-Century Modern Wrought Iron Bar Stools | 13. Cane Bar Stool | 14. Factory Bar Stool | 15. Dakota Adjustable Stool
HOLD THE PHONE! Did you see #7 and #8? Pricey? YUP! But man are they good looking for anyone with the budget for them. Something like #15 is great because it’s adjustable up and down (I’m 5’3″ so I’ll always appreciate something that cranks me up higher than my taller counterparts), and the chunkiness of the seat on #6 and #14 look both cushy/comfortable but also a little more substantial for a kitchen with a more minimal design.
*Looking for more related product roundups?
We’ve got ’em in two different places for you to satisfy all your shopping needs. Check out: