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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
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Welcome to “Mountain House Mondays” where yes, we talk current mountain house projects, design conundrums and generally “where we’re at” in the furniture/decor phase of this home. You guys asked for it, so what you are going to get is in-process decision making which sometimes (like today) might be messy. I’m hoping that you still gleam some information from the indecision and learn truly about the conundrums that even “experts” deal with on a day to day basis. Todays conundrum is the riveting stool debate. This post was finished on Friday with stools pretty much decided on, but over the weekend I’ve been up here and actually experiencing the house and now … well, you’ll see.

We are hoping to shoot the kitchen in mid-February (with a reveal end of month or beginning of March) and the only thing we are waiting on are the stools for both the island and peninsula. So, I thought I’d walk you through the process of how the EHD team chooses furniture for a particular space and how we narrowed it down to the two stools that we ended up choosing.

As a reminder, here is the layout of the kitchen.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Kitchen Counterstools Line Drawing 01

The last time you probably heard from us about this kitchen, it looked a little different in terms of material (remember this?). So for a little clarity and context, we included the final materials in the board above so you can get a sense of the vibe (but we didn’t want to give it away).

So, since we need stools for two areas (like I said, peninsula in front and island, in the middle), it’s made a little trickier because the material is not the same on both those spots. The island is a black stained reclaimed wood while the peninsula is a reclaimed beechwood (though both have a white quartz countertop). Now they can be the same stool, but I think it will be more interesting if they are not, and vintage isn’t really an option as “counter stools” weren’t really a thing until the last couple decades so most vintage stools are bar stools (for anyone wondering what the difference is, it’s a seat height difference; counter stools range from 24-29 inches in height seat to floor while bar stools range from 30-36 inches).

The problem with stools is the same problem with, well, EVERYTHING IN LIFE: finding something that is comfortable, beautiful and affordable is quite a challenge. I might even say you have to choose two generally and that getting all three is impossible. Hell, getting “comfortable” and “stylish” is already hard.

Here are a few points we had on our mind while the design team was doing research:

FUNCTION

Ideally, I’d keep it clean and not have stools with backs on them so they can tuck under the island but over the break as we were up there (and I was cooking all day every day), people kept me company at the island for hours and therefore having a back on them became a necessity. Ideally, they’d even be padded or be something where it would be easy to put a cushion on. So on the comfort level, I need these on the island to be at least a 6-7.

But I think the stools at the peninsula can be backless as they will get less use and I really want to keep the sightline clean from the living room. I think these are more the kind that people will hang out at, but not for hours just while making a drink or eating a snack. But if they could also have a cushion, or be comfortable then yes, GREAT.

STYLE

While the whole mountain house style is minimal and Scandinavian, I want to keep it relatively classic and not trendy. It’s a hard balance…comfort, stylish, cool but not trendy, timeless but not boring. But it seems fun to fantasize…so first I’d like to introduce you to my dream stools. Some of the most beautiful stools in the world.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Kitchen Counterstools Dream Stools

1. Moreno Barstool | 2. Strel Stool | 3. Siro+ Bar Stool | 4. Oak Hiro Counter Height Stool | 5. Brown Leather and Oak Stool | 6. Black and Leather Counter Stool | 7. Spot Counter Stool | 8. Meru Counter Stool | 9. Leather and Wood Stool | 10. C603 Stool | 11. Tractor Counter Stool | 12. In Between SK7 Bar Stool

My dream front-runners are #1 (from Lawson-Fenning) and #2 (by BDDW).

When I saw those (#1, #2 and #4), I had a visceral reaction. Those lines are simple but stunning. They are unique but not loud. They are minimal but still warm. They are also all very expensive, weighing in at $1,200 for #1 and I’m not sure how much the BBDW ones are but likely over $1k each.

The reason the Lawson-Fenning pick made the list is that it looks SO comfortable but without being a generic upholstered stool or one that could be found at a slot machine in Vegas. But these are already an investment and I would want them in leather which would cost even more and then Julie realized that they are too tall to tuck under the island, which was the whole point. I kept them “on the list” because they do check most of the boxes (comfort, simple, unique). Am I tempted to actually go for any of these splurge-y stools? My heart says yes, my brain and wallet says no. Besides, there are SO MANY great stools out there at all price points.

So Julie basically put together a document of all the best stools that fall in the Scandinavian vibe, that would work for the house (and my budget). We divided it into counter stools with backs and without because again, I want the people around the island to have backs, while the peninsula doesn’t necessarily need to (although ideally there wouldn’t be any backs, visually). If you are thinking that maybe a low back would be the best option, I’ll warn you that last night, I sat at a bar that had a low back and it basically felt like it had no back so it’s kind of pointless with the false sense of security a real back gives you.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Kitchen Counterstools Backs 011

1. Lovell Counter Stool | 2. Anna Stool | 3. Slope Upholstered Counter Stool | 4. Black Windsor Stool | 5. Faith Bar Stool | 6. Pause Bar Stool | 7. Gray Upholstered Counter Stool | 8. Plymouth Bar Stool | 9. Mackinder Counter Stool | 10. Klein Counter Stool | 11. Upholstered Walnut Counter Stool | 12. Remnick Counter Stool

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Kitchen Counterstools No Backs 01

1. Wood and Metal Square Counter Stool | 2. Perch Bar Stool | 3. Origin Backless Counter Stools | 4. Revolver Counter Stool | 5. Tan Leather and Light Oak Stool | 6. Plato Counter Stool | 7. Wood and White Metal Counter Stool | 8. Trace Counter Stool | 9. Smoked Oak and Black Counter Stool | 10. Spin Counter Stool | 11. White Ash Stool | 12. Plato Counter Stool

To keep it easy and to speed up the process (with fewer questions), Julie included the lead time and the price on these when we went over them internally.

Typically, the design team will put all options on a sheet (in Photoshop or InDesign), print it out and I basically just X out the “no’s” first. Don’t get me wrong, in this instance, ALL of these are “yes’s”—just being considered on this list means we really like something about all of these. But we have to consider the finish (the peninsula is light wood and the island is black wood), and whether we want the stools to pop or go away. I definitely don’t want them to pop, though some contrast could be nice, but also since this house is to remain as airy and calm as possible, I do want to make sure I’m not adding contrast just for the sake of contrast. Tone on tone is definitely the quieter route.

Once we got down to the “maybe’s,” she put them on another board so we could see them together.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Kitchen Counterstools Curated Mix Final Round 01

Honestly, I love all of these. Some of them were nixed simply because of budget or lead time. If they were my dream stool that we had to wait ’til March for, we might have, but I love so many of these that obsessing over one seemed silly.

Then it came down to what looks good together:

Final Pairs

Originally, I wanted the pair on the left, but we didn’t hear back about lead time on the stool and we are trying to move fast. Then Article came out with these stools (creating the pair on the right) which frankly do look more comfortable and have a roomier bum (with a pad!). So we ordered them to get here in time for the shoot and now the Finnish Design Shop stools are in stock and can get here in time (and we get a nice press discount).

The price difference between the Article stool and Finnish Design shop is about $80 each, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that much. Stylistically the Finnish stool looks better with the Lostine stool…what do you guys think? If you had to pick a pair for the kitchen based on the materials I mentioned, what would you go with and why?

*Last minute Update: After spending the weekend up here with my friends, I’m even MORE concerned about the need for comfort around the island. My girlfriends and I discussed how no one really wants to sit at a bar or island on stools without a back, for more than 20 minutes anyway.  Now I fear that the Lostine stools should go at the peninsula (I already bought them, but we could return).

It really is a cruel cruel world that the elements that make something comfortable often make them less streamlined, bulkier, bigger, less sculptural. I’m tempted to go back to the drawing board and sacrifice a bit of that minimal Scandi vibe to get more comfort. I now have four more that I’m contemplating that look comfortable and family friendly albeit less beautiful.

 

  1. Loved the post… until you started questioning all your decisions…

    1. That’s real life.

  2. When deciding on our counter stools we prioritized comfort and no sight lines. We settled on a Room and Board style that is no longer made but is similar to the Sava. When pushed in, you do not see the back, but the back is high enough to provide plenty of support, the leather is very comfortable but not bulky at all (and extremely easy to wipe down and keep clean). I wanted something with a little more style/wood but am thrilled with the comfort level and overall and lack of sight lines with these. We spend SO MUCH time around our island……

    1. I feel that as long as the seat is upholstered and comfortable, a back is not needed. That is what we have around our island and guests will sit there for hours. It is also where I sit in the mornings reading sometimes for a couple hours on the weekend. I’ve never missed having a back.

      1. Hmm. that’s good to know. I’m literally writing this comment in a backed stool at the mountain house right now (I should be on my way home but its storming and the road home is TERRIFYING on a cliff). I wish I had a backless stool to see if I could sit here as long. At the same time there are plenty of places to sit! Like why do I need to make every single seat in this house the most desirable ever. Answer: because comfort is key to an inviting home …. I know i couldn’t write without a back, but if friends can gather and hang then that should be good enough.

        1. I think the placement of the footrest is actually more important than having a back. I always sit on the edge of backed chairs–just to have better posture, but I wouldn’t be able to do that if my feet weren’t on the floor/footrest, if that makes sense…

          1. YES I agree. a footrest is absolutely key to my comfort on a barstool. Though, it is nice every now and then to throw yourself backward against the back and just…lounge. There’s an ease to it that is a nice option to have.

          2. i do think a back rest is a must have for me but good point about placement of footrest and also comfort of the footrest! i just bought counter stools and it is a process! I loved one stool that had a really skinny metal footrest with the narrowest edge being where you’d rest you’re feet…it immediately dug into the bottom of my feet when i rested them there and was super uncomfortable! I would def try them in the space to see if aesthetics and comfort come together!

            counter stools are painful bc you always need more than one so those higher price points add up fast!

      2. I completely agree. We have stools from Crate and Barrel with no back and a removable washable seat cushion (a MUST with kids!) They are very comfy and many people (from kids to grandparents) have sat for hours with no complaints. When not in use I push them under the counter and they’re hidden.

    2. If it’s for your family, I’d go with whatever is comfortable for you. If the stool is attractive is the sight line as important?

      ALSO – what was key for us were island chairs that swiveled – otherwise they can be difficult to get in and out of…

  3. I have vintage wood stools with a high back and rush seats at my island. They are so comfortable. The raffia (?) type material that is woven to make the seats is like a cushion, but still looks streamlined, design wise. The backs are a shaker style chair. Just a thought on the seat – maybe a woven material will give you the comfort you desire 🙂

  4. Whyyyyyyy can’t we just see the actual mountain house instead of drawings? 🙂 Progress photos don’t spoil reveals for me. If anything they make me more invested in a project.

    As a general comment not directly related to this particular post, it seems like there is an abundance of planning content about your projects, and then it all goes quiet while the real work takes place and you’re like “nothing exciting over here, just shopping for some stools.” And then BAM!! THE BIG REVEAL! Why can’t we see the unfinished version too? I know there’s already been a lot of feedback about the Portland project reveals, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but… After you dish out the final reveal, my interest will be fulfilled. I won’t have a deep desire to see what it looked like before it was finished anymore, and will be ready for the next big thing. In summary: a) I really want to see this house I AM SO EXCITED!! b) once the reveal goes live this project is dead to me. -OK maybe not dead per say, but Portland project showed me that I have a real short attention span.

    1. Hey Clarissa, we are about to show you the process photos of all rooms EXCEPT the kitchen and bathrooms. The reason is once you see those rooms, you’ve really ‘seen’ those rooms because nothing will really change and they are basically done besides the towel selection. So we want actually good photographs of those. As far as the rest of the rooms I’m taking iphone shots of them today so that I can walk you through the decor and furniture selection process (we just don’t have the photos yet) and every monday you’ll see more until we are done. But I can’t let an iphone shot of this beautiful kitchen trump the actual reveal. We have the shoot on the schedule for 2 weeks from now and then we’ll publish it asap 🙂

      1. I really like this planning process. I enjoy this journey, and how you ask really really good questions! It’s very helpful for me to hear your reasoning and why/how you choose certain items. So many times I see designers on Instagram/blogs and I think to myself, “how did they pull that amazing kitchen/bathroom/bedroom/etc. together???”, and it’s so nice coming along the ride with you, having a sneak peek into your thought process. It makes designing feel so much more accessible and I can come to your articles (like this one) where you’ve done the “dirty work” and thought out different options, reasonings, etc. I really appreciate it!

  5. So glad you shared this, I am having the same indecisive thoughts. Plus since we are down sizing really do not want to spend $1K+ per island stool (need 4). Need minimal sight line, comfort (love people hanging in kitchen while preparing food/drinks) and of course stylish without being over trendy.

  6. I’m really glad that you are debating on real things (aka comfort) that most of us have to deal with. You could have easily just gone with a gorgeous, highly uncomfortable stool for the pics and changed them out to something more comfortable later, but the fact that you are trying to get the best of both world is GREAT! Keep up the good work and I’m sure it will turn out amazing in the end.

  7. I like the article stool you settled on with the remnick stool from Anthropologie…
    Also, why didn’t any Thos. Moser stools make the cut?!! They are so comfortable!!

    1. oh shoot! I forgot about them!! I literally found like 4 more stools i’m considering last night while I am up here and I almost texted my team to add them but realized it was sunday night at 6pm and that is just rude. I’m tempted to do a ‘the final four counter stool pairs’ update, but maybe i’ll just do it on stories to show you the final debate. I thought the above was final til myself and my friends sat at the island all weekend and now I want more comfort.

      1. Do it here please!!! Not stories. I’m not on the gram or any socials (and I’m guessing I’m not the only one) and would hate to miss the next step!

        1. I agree with this! I don’t do social media, just blogs and I want to see more here!

      2. If you do an update on stories, can you do a small blogpost for all of us who are not into instagram? May be a second blogpost for this one day?:)

    2. The Article and Anthropologie were my favorites together too.

  8. I completely agree with all of your girlfriends. Stools without backs are the WORST. When eating out at restaurants I prefer sitting at the bar, but if there aren’t backs on the stools I will opt for a table. It’s simply too uncomfortable to dine/relax/chat with friends when there is no where to rest your back.
    I also agree with you, that a low-back option is ridiculous, as there isn’t really any support.
    Maybe you may want to go back to the drawing board?
    As for the vintage, I bought some vintage Arthur Umanoff swivel bar stools (the cord wrapped back, wood slat seats, and black metal bases) that I had their legs cut down by a metal worker so that they now function as counter stools, and I love them! They juuuuuust tuck under the counter, offer back support, and are completely stylish. Love. Am considering having a custom leather pad made for the seats for added comfort.

    1. MOLLY THAT IS A VERY INTERESTING IDEA. I hadn’t even thought about that!! Bar stools cut down to counter? I’m headed to chairish right now…. Thank you 🙂

      1. (Blushes.) You’re welcome. Hope you find something you love that you can do the same with! I took my stools down 3.5 inches and there’s still 4.5 inches of clearance from the bottom to the crossbar in the back and 6.5 in the front from the floor to the footrest. If you like the same I see that there are 3 up for auction on liveauctioneers.com right now.

  9. Am I the only one who just haaaaates that bddw stool? Not only for the price point, but that back looks like it could snap like a twig the second a rambunctious toddler sat in it, let alone a fully developed adult. I love the Lostine stools, so lovely! The article stools actually look quite comfy to me, that wide seat base works!

    1. I think the article stool is definitely comfy and they are staying. It’s just what other stool for the island do we do that works well with it that has a back… and I think the BBDW is more of a piece of art than a functional stool.

  10. One more thing to consider is how stable they are – my son is a little older than Charlie and one of the best things I ever did was buy super heavy dining chairs. With stools the risk is even higher. Since this is for your own family, you might want to do a climb/tip test before you commit!

    1. YES. My husband, every single day, complains that our dining chairs aren’t heavy enough. And I realized after I had finalized the Lostine stools that they might be too light for them to climb up on and get in. We’ll see (they are already on their way). But agreed, having something more substantial is great for everyone,

    2. Depending on how active/wiggly your kids are, this can continue to be an issue beyond the toddler years. We have the very light DWR salt chairs (bought on Craigslist!) in our dining room, but with a rug underneath. At one point we were without a rug and both my 10-year-olds tipped out of their chairs multiple times.

      1. I am dealing with this now!! Salt Chairs are sooo light, but I love them. My 3 year old has definitely fallen already… he’s pretty sturdy though so I’m not too worried… yet.

  11. I like the Bluedot $399 #7 with-back stools from the second roundup – they seem visually quiet yet comfortable – and I like the #5 three-legged black backless stools from the final roundup – they seem like they would go with anything. I also like the Citizenery $575 #8 with-back stools from the first roundup. Although, maybe don’t buy any backless stools for now and just see how it goes? Some people like leaning up against a counter without a stool, and stools could be moved from the island to the peninsula if needed.

  12. We prioritized comfort but found the Saracina stools from target in black faux leather and love the look (even though that style is seen everywhere likely because it’s actually comfortable and stable for kids). They’ve held up to both kid and adult messes and people can sit at the counter for hours. Also can’t beat the price – 2 stools for under $200.

    1. Ooh i’m interested.

  13. The good thing about stools without backs is that kids don’t tip them over. I actually have lots of hard metal stools without backs and they are absolutely fine and I don’t mind sitting on them at all. And it’s not like it’s the only place to sit in the house either–if I want comfort, I sit on a couch or arm chair. Stools are never really that comfortable, not matter how much padding they have, so go with what looks good.

  14. But wait, no house pictures? Isn’t that what everyone was asking to see or just me? Not perfectly staged pretty pictures, just messy progress so we can see what it’s looking like? The wait is too long until the reveals and while perfect photoe are pretty to look at, messy non staged pictures are so much more relatable. Pretty please?

    1. This please! Thanks for bringing us in on choices like this — this is exactly what I wanted (plus pictures!).

      Honestly the finalists look beautiful but still uncomfortable — I think it has to do with the thin metal back and legs on the island stool. They just seem less welcoming to me. BUT ALAS I bet they would look pretty … seeing the island would be a plus to deciding!

      Safe drive home when you get to leave!

  15. This is an amazing post!!!! I’m also perma-shopping for counter stools with the exact same dilemmas. Thank you for sharing your process – now when the time comes I can go to the Rooms and Shop section and get it all sorted out. Plus I can use the “strategy” on my sofa hunt…

    1. My feeling is that the EDH team is still committed to the idea of a “reveal.” Maybe that’s an economic decision, more $ to be made with sponsors, more leeway to shop a something called a reveal to print publications. Maybe the team can figure out a way to give us one leeeeeeetle preview/hint shot of each room;).

      But at this point I’m telling my inner voice to chill out and accept that I’m never going to get exactly what I want because everyone wants something a little different, advertisers in particular:). And this is a business and we want EHD to be sustainable.

      1. I’m a writer, and I look at it this way. I wouldn’t want to show the world my first or second draft before the final is published and out there. You want your best work circulating first and then you’re happy to dive in to the mechanics of how you got there and show the messy bits.

        I think Emily is unique among designers and lifestyle bloggers in that she DOES share so much of her process and decision-making. Also practically, I imagine magazines etc would not be interested in featuring rooms that are already all over the internet.

        1. I see the point. But as a reader, I’d love to see at least some sneak peeks or badly lit ‘before’ pictures. The reason, because it creates more anticipation and excitement. Seeing those ‘before’ pictures I can visualize, and dream of what I’d do there if it was my house. Seeing a reveal would be an ‘aha’ moment because I could see how a pro would decorate a space that I have not experienced. That’s not to say that I wasnt to see detailed before, way before the reveal. Not at all. Just a few sneak peeks to boost my excitement about seeing the whole house.

  16. LOVE the article stool. The Lostine stool looks so uncomfortable. I would return those and try a different one.

  17. I’m finding it too hard to visualize stools when I don’t know what the kitchen looks like. I do like the article stool but not against black.

  18. I think you have your answer in backless vs back–both you and your girlfriends think they’re uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter how much commenters try to convince you backless stools are comfortable. You and your guests know they’re not, and y’all are the ones that are going to be sitting on them–not us 🙂

  19. I cook and entertain a LOT. As most people find, our kitchen is the gathering spot- whether it be kids keeping me company, my husband and I debriefing our days or friends hanging out during a dinner or cocktail party. I love having people keep me company while I cook and I would never not have a back on a stool. It would just not be comfortable and I’d sacrifice comfort for companionship all day long.

  20. Dear Emily,

    I feel for you. I am the queen of indecisions! I’ll add another thought dimension for you – don’t make seats too comfortable because for our own fitness and posture, we should be standing and moving around. I just loved listening to Dr Rangan Chaterjee’s podcast ‘Feel better live more’ with the Foot Collective which goes into more detail. More food for thought!

    https://media.acast.com/feelbetterlivemore/howtostaypainfreewiththefootcollective/media.mp3

    Happy deliberating!

  21. I have the Target windsor counter stools and I have to say that I really like them. Unlike many stools they are actually seat width which means you can sit on them for a long time instead of the little stools where you kind of perch on them (I do recommend getting some kind of pad). And with kids they are awesome! The legs are widespread which means when my kid pushes back from the counter he almost never tips the stool over (we had 1 fall where he did this flying kick thing…toddlers are the worst). Best thing is that we have a booster strapped to the chair because the wider seat allows for the booster and more stability.

    1. These stories make me so nervous because several years ago, a friend of a dear friend of mine lost her 2-year-old to a stupid stool tip-over. The toddler was doing what all toddlers do … standing up and flailing while eating at the counter. Went over backwards. Hit her head in just the wrong place on the linoleum flooring with a concrete sub-floor. Never regained consciousness. It was so tragic, I will never look at counter stools the same again. Please make sure the ones you choose are as stable as they can be. xo

      1. Oh my goodness, such an important warning and reminder. What a horrible, horrible loss.

  22. COMFORT.

  23. We got stools (with backs) very similar to the #5 pottery barn but from wayfair for about half the price! the quality is great, the wood is a bit lighter in person and they are very comfy! we usually eat at the counter vs the dining table. linked here if anyone is curious: https://www.wayfair.com/furniture/pdp/union-rustic-stearns-3898-counter-bar-stool-unrs4359.html

  24. I have the #4 black stools w backs from Target. We spend a lot of time at our island. They are very comfortable and sturdy. I have three kids 3,5,7 and they have not tipped them over. I would be worried about small kids in backless stools Black wood does show crumbs ect but these wipe clean easily. We had upholstered ones prior to these and I had to throw them out. And they had a ton of scotch guard on them. They get so gross. Food stuck in the cracks. ew ew ew

  25. Two things – a tiny fake back is worse than no back in my experience. Also, Industry West has beautiful, simple, wooden counter chairs with backs that are surprisingly comfortable. Love mine. (After I tried two other kinds first.)

  26. YAY MHM!! I’m going to be so excited to check in every week. I love the Mountain House and I love hearing the process when you are in the middle of things. Makes it very relatable/like chatting with a talented girlfriend. I totally get it about the backs. Based on actual usage it does seem like the peninsula could get away with no backs, but the island DEFinitely needs them. I love the Lostine stools and really all your final picks with backs except 12 (and 11 appears potentially uncomfortable) so I’d say if you want backs at the peninsula pick something fairly see-through and then go comfort all the way at the island.

  27. Thanks for sharing your thought process! I’m glad To hear about the need to try things out / discuss with others before finding the perfect solution.

  28. Love the Lostine stools paired with the Article stools. The other combo is just too matchy matchy. I get being quiet in your decor, but it’s going too far. The Article stools look uber-comfy and there is enough interest between those and the Lostine stools to work. Also get the idea of the Lostine stools tipping over. Not sure if that will be an issue once they arrive, but any stool can tip over with the mad mechanations of toddlers and little kids. Unless the stools are concrete and bolted to the floor, they can tip. Your kids will grow out of this phase, so maybe the trick is to just carefully monitor them on the stools and teach them not to be crazy.

  29. I agree that if you’re going to be sitting at the counter for a long time, you want a stool with a back. My posture is already terrible and no back= slouch city. My partner and I decided we could live without a dining table in our 800 sq ft apartment so we only have stools at the counter and I sit there and use it as my desk sometimes also. We have the spindle back ones you showed from Target, they are OK. They are solid wood and sturdy and CHEAP but also larger and clunkier than they probably need to be. If I were to swap them out it would be for the Remnick ones from Anthro (#12), they are gorgeous in person and SO comfortable, just wish they came in black.

  30. Comfort is king. I get that you’re creating content and it needs to be beautiful, but if you are truly imagining this as a family space and a place to gather with friends, pick a comfortable stool where people are most likely to sit. We have a long peninsula in my kitchen and both my kids and I often choose to sit there so we can visit with my husband when he’s cooking. I will sit there for an hour even though the seat hurts my bum and I often have to go grab a living room pillow to sit on. I wish daily for more comfortable stools and it’s something I will buy as soon as I have $50 to spare for something used.

  31. Whatever you do don’t get a stool with a totally flat seat and hard edge; it’s incredibly uncomfortable to sit on more than a few minutes at a time.

  32. Sight line from the other side of the island looking at the stools: will the stool backs blend too much with the cabinetry? I know from the living room they’ll contrast with the blackish island, but from the other side of the island, all you’ll see is light-ish wood. Unless there is enough contrast between the stool backs and the wall cabinetry.

  33. I just can’t commit to the cost of bar stools.
    I’ve found that I’ll splurge on what I love and stools aren’t in that category.

    Our island that i’m buying for has a sliding door to the screen porch behind it (behind the stools) and our whole house is designed with windows and views, so my focus for bar stools is to tuck below the counter- hence no backs.
    And to stick with the low cost I want, I’m getting three from Target. If someday I have “cheap buyers remorse” I’ll learn from it and invest in something more. Till then it’s hard to go from the cost of building to filling with furniture….

  34. I love a back with comfortable seat( or a covered thin foam pad in leather or cool fabric ) and had to have the swivel seat!!! The scraping of the chairs back and fort was killing the pleasure of conversation.
    My friend had seats built( a long time ago) with a back but it was built like a suitcase with the back you push in and out for varied heights of people. ( they locked into place, she was under 5 feet and her husband was 6’6”) she knew people in the biz but I’m sure it wasn’t cheap to do.

  35. Team backrest. Maybe too big and not the vibe/style you’re going for, but we have these from Rejuvenation and they are comfortable, the back is a sufficient height, and heavy enough to withstand an aggressive toddler. There used to be a lighter colored wood option too but looks like that’s maybe gone now.
    https://www.rejuvenation.com/catalog/collections/bayley-counter-stool

  36. I didn’t see it specifically referenced below in the “sturdiness” convo below, but I had tried a stool with 3 legs vs the 4 legs and kept tipping over in it. I see that the no back in your Pair Option 1 group only has 3 legs… something to think about. But also, I’d search vintage and cut to height if I were you… at least try for one set.

  37. I live in an original midcentury home so my bar area is made of maple. Most current designs show a white or painted bar with wood stools. I would love to see some options for stools that can bring contrast with a wood stained bar!

    1. Happened to just be scrolling through this slideshow – fantastic wood midcentury bar with barstools 🙂 https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/1100-architect-laura-santos-manhattan-townhouse-slideshow

      1. Thank you!!

  38. I’m also shopping for counter height bar stools. I am probably going for backless to be able to tuck completely under the counter top overhang. But also learned this hard lesson from friends who were adamant about having backs on theirs for comfort, but got swivel seats and now the edge of their granite island is all chipped up from the seat backs smacking into the counter.

  39. C’mon, don’t leave a girl hanging. What are the 4 more comfortable ones that you are now considering?

    PS – It is such a relief to bear witness to your contemplations after so much choice paralysis of my own. ‘Cause, y’know, misery loves company.

  40. We went through the same debate. A few things to consider regarding children sitting in them – (my boys are 7 and 11). I think stools with backs are better for kids since they never just sit nicely and you don’t want them flying over the back. And it is easier for them to climb up if the stool doesn’t have arms. I also find for myself it is easier to pop up and down with out arms – we eat most meals at our island and I am up and down a trillion times as the kids ask for napkins, more water etc. We ended up with Profile counter stool from DWR. Simple lines, leather seat is comfy and easy to keep clean and back is supportive without looking over done. We have Farrow and Ball Railings island and got the stools in walnut/black leather.

  41. Kids grab the back of the bar stool to hoist themselves onto the seat of the stool, so anything that swivels or is too light is an accident waiting to happen. I am now obsessed with the Citizenry stool in the Dream category. I probably should have skipped over that group of pics!

  42. These are the best and most comfortable bar stools. The back is low enough to be unobstrusive but high enough for comfort.

    https://www.roomandboard.com/m/catalog/dining-and-kitchen/counter-and-bar-stools/hirsch-counter-and-bar-stools-with-leather-legs

  43. “Glean” vs. “gleam” information (feel free to delete comment once edited ;)).

    1. 🙂

  44. I think having a back on a stool is vital. When eating you want to be able to lean back and take a breath and when you don’t have a back you end up hunched over your plate and and feel rushed and uncomfortable. And, when I am at a friends house where the choice is to stand, lean or sit at a bar stool with no back, I will stand.

  45. I’m glad to see the BluDot got cut. My friend had theirs and they pilled terribly.

  46. I think the perfect solution is a Marcel Breuer Cesca style stool (the ones with the cane seat/back and chrome tube metal legs) – they are SO comfortable but also incredibly stylish and timeless.

  47. Be careful about the legs! We have had counter stools with skinny round black metal legs for years, and want to replace them. We can’t get felt pads (protection for those beautiful wood floors) to stick for any length of time, no matter what we try. Drives us crazy!!

  48. I did a stool search last summer after my kitchen remodel. My requirements were comfort, easy to clean and sturdiness. My final choice was the Lowe’s counter stool from C&B. I have 9 year old twin boys and we spend a lot of time at the island and these stools are holding up incredibly well. They are well built (with a very solid footrest) and can be easily wiped down with a sponge – a must with kids. And the backs are low enough that they don’t over power the island and they are a nice transitional style. My runner up was the Phoenix counter stool from CB2 which has a more MCM style.

  49. I’m surprised no one else has mentioned the colors decision. So the island is darker cabinetry and the peninsula is light. Are you wanting the stools to contrast or blend with each? I love the no sight lines only if the stools are only used occasionally. But the way you describe living here I’m on team full back. I actually didn’t feel like the Lostine counted as a full back. Will it hit tall people and short people equally comfortably? Or is it a spine bruiser masquerading as supportive? But back to the colors. Does it make sense to have the same full-back in two finishes to match each cabinet or does that seem like a manifestation of indecision? This is exactly the kind of thing that would occupy my mind for WEEKS and I truly love this blog above others because you share your pain. I (think) would ultimately go with a mix of both styles and finishes like the Lostine/Article combo. Although I preferred the In Between Finnish style #12 from the dream list for the high back and would toss and turn about this Citizenry temptresses from same list. Do they fit under the counter? My COMFORT for you is: there are a LOT of ways to be right.

  50. I’m telling you the barstool struggle is real! 🙂 And I cant agree more..you want your guests to saddle up and stay …and your kids won’t use them. My friend said it was the biggest mistake bc her kids never sit in the ones she bought (no back). They need to lean back! I just bought these, I’m excited bc they are modern, warm, and a little MCM so coukd work for you! https://www.wayfair.com/furniture/pdp/corrigan-studio-ramsey-255-bar-stool-cstd6154.html?refid=TEM_WF_262&mmid=2207051289&csnid=B22E52DF-5845-4403-9052-310946B3C2FB&libra_c=&libra_d=&libra_g=&cltr=&experiencetype=1#close_modal

    1. Oh, I really like those stools from wayfair. Very cool lines. I too have been wanting to replace my counter stools for years but just haven’t found some I love enough to commit to. I’ve been considering these but am not sure they are interesting enough. Though they do look sturdy and comfy and a bit mcm to me.

      https://www.houzz.com/product/60800704-faux-leather-upholstered-walnut-wood-finish-counter-stools-set-of-2-black-midcentury-bar-stools-and-counter-stools

  51. I recently went through the exact same dilemma haha. Comfort over look while finding the right price point. Almost impossible. I finally decided on the Hans Wegner Elbow Stool. They have a back & come in varying tones of wood, with either a woven cord or leather seat. I think I would’ve chosen a different color for what I have going on, but I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have randomly complimented & asked where I found them. One gal happened to see them in a insta story where you ever so slightly see the kitchen in the background haha. So maybe check them out .. they are very comfortable & slip right under the bar, so no line of sight. But good luck, you’ve got great taste, can’t wait to see it all come together. Actually digging those sexy curvy backed citizenry chairs in the pic you have shown above.

  52. Funny, I have had many homes with many bar stools with backs and without. Everyone (me included) hated the ones with backs as it makes it so difficult to get in and out of them. Even the swivel are a pain cause your legs bump into the person beside you when you try to get out. Backless ones you can just hop on and hop off or turn around and face the great room. Each to her own! Fun to look at all the options tho!

  53. Style is important in your space.Having said that comfort makes your space more livable. I think that the lastine back stools are beautiful however, they don’t seem to have enough back support. Some of the others on the first list are very beautiful and have much better support. This is your space to relax and enjoy and should be beautiful and comfortable.

  54. FYI – you have #10 in counter stools with backs credited to Crate and Barrel but it’s really Pottery Barn. Don’t want you to burn any bridges with anybody…

  55. Comfort is king and I will almost always vote for the backrest!
    – I just purchased a really small place in Santa Fe and we went nuts looking for counter stools that look great, comfortable and fit the house / Santa Fe style. We finally settled on the RH Klismos with the seat in leather. The stools have an architectural shape that looks really great as the backs peak over the counter.
    – Additionally, when I get to redo my Portland kitchen, I will have my old Dakota Jackson bar stools cut down that we still love after 20+ years!
    Really like the #5 counter stool in the final round to go with the Lostine…what is it???

  56. I don’t understand why the lostine stools are no longer considered comfortable. They look great and they have a back.

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  57. We had to eat at our kitchen counter for months while the rest of the house was being renovated and I confirm that stools with no/low back are pointless. We literally threw ours in the bin after a week. I swung hard in the other direction but I would add one more factor to your search- washable. My stools have backs that get greasy handprints on them and padded seats that collect crumbs along the seams. It’s not a dealbreaker but every few months I have to drag them all to the tub for a serious scrub, no fun!

  58. PLease share how comfortable /sturdy the Lostine stools are when you get them! They are on my short list.

  59. Very Informative Blog… Anyone is looking to change the boring look of your house then buy timber Cladding Online for Trendy Touch to your Dream Home.
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  60. After reading your article and all the responses, I’m about ready to break into song; “All the stools I’ve loved before…”. For me, comfort, swivel, clean-ability and ability to push under countertop + price would be what mattered. Then choose the best looking styles that fit the above parameters and find THE ONE … and THE OTHER ONE.

  61. I have never found a comfortable barstool. I’d have to have some custom-made. I’m not especially short (5’3″), but my feet never completely reach the foot rest. The backs of my thighs hurt from my legs just hanging off the edge. Or I get cramps in my feet from trying to reach the foot rest.

    If I ever had a kitchen big enough for an island, I’d have a normal chair height section for my stools.

    And I kinda hate that BDDW stool. Looks like a tinker toy.

  62. I absolutely love posts like this! Thank you for the detailed explanations, including the re-thinks & what-ifs.

  63. I’ve had backless stools with small round seat and they were sooo uncomfortable! We lived with them for a few years but, boy, it was not easy. I then bought saddle-type, backless stools and they were a dream for our behinds. But after a couple of years, I saw them everywhere. That’s not fun. I replaced them with neat stools from Ikea with backs. I really wanted a back. I love the way they look but the molded plastic can be a little challenging. Not as comfy as I would like. So the hunt is still on.
    Bottom line: small round seat is an absolute no-no. Good luck!

  64. I feel like the Lostine and Finnish combination is a little too closely matched. Even though both of the backless options have cushions I prefer cocoon shape of the Article one over a flat seat. Also I like how the crossbars on the Article stool mimic the Lostine. I also think the little bit of contrast in color is complementary so my vote is Lostine/Article.

  65. A back is critical for many people. Do not omit from the island.

  66. Sorry but it’s glean, not gleam.

  67. Definitely need backs.

  68. This one is padded with footrest and back, and configurable in the seat and legs. And fits the scandi, edgy look.

    https://www.danishdesignstore.com/collections/designer-collections-afteroom/products/afteroom-counter-chair-plus-menu

    It is similar to the one from Burke Decor and to the Lostine stool.

    I agree with: swivel is good unless easy to move the stool or to get on and off, a back is a good thing, although I also find I often sit forward on a stool of computer chair (it’s good to sit back every once in a while), and that comfort and style are often at odds! 🙂

    You have some beautiful options there! I like the ones in the photo at top, but I get the low back thing.

  69. Perhaps it is too late to comment on counter stools now? I am also looking for counter stools. As my husband and I are not so young anymore…65 & 60, respectively, we would greatly appreciate stools that swivel. I can’t find any cool options, except for ridiculously expensive ones at Charish or 1st Dibs. If anyone knows of cool counter height swivel stools, pass them on!
    P.S. this is the first time I have made a comment on a blog. If I’m doing it wrong, please forgive me!

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