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Rules for Picking Barstools (+75 Favorite Picks for All Height & Back Needs)



photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: target’s new see it in your space feature (+ 50 new product favorites)

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.

photo by veronica crawford | from: my updated LA dining room + my dream chairs (kinda)

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.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the reveal of the mountain house kitchen

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.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the reveal of the mountain house kitchen

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.

photo by zeke ruelas | from: casa soria kitchen reveal

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.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the portland project kitchen reveal

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.

Emily Henderson Stools Counter Height Without Back New

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.

Emily Henderson Stools Counter Height With Back New

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.

Emily Henderson Stools Bar With Back New

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).

Emily Henderson Stools Bar Without Back New

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:

The Best Bar Stools Are On Our Shop Page & All Our Kitchen-Shopping Related Posts In One Place

Fin Mark


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I own and love in 2 homes the Ikea $40 stool that adjusts up and down. None better at the price.


A note on barstools for kids: we had swivel counter stools and found them a bit unsteady and difficult for our toddler to climb on and off of (and once she was up, it often wasn’t at the right distance from the counter). We switched them out for a backless version with a wide base (similar to the shape of #2 in the backless bar stool grouping) and find them to be so much better for kids. The backless shape means that kids can climb up from the back and be at the right distance from the counter with no… Read more »


Thanks for this advice! Am currently in the process of buying counter stools and would have totally went with the swivel for the kiddos!


Another thing to consider… I had swivel stools with backs with kids and they loved spinning or turning side to side and hitting the back of the stool on the side of the counter. We had an tiled counter, which meant a few cracked tiles!

Kristine Williamson

Great roundup, but I’ve never seen any advice on how to pick/pair barstools with nearby dining chairs/table. Any suggestions?


Same. This is what I need to know! How to pick the barstools in reference to my decor…including kitchen chairs. I was so thrilled to see this post but sadly didn’t get the styling info I really needed. Appreciate all the stools examples though!

Sherry B.

I was thinking the exact same thing, have an open concept dining area, have a table and chairs but now need bar height stalls to look good with the dining area table and chairs, help!

Amanda Piacentino

I have the DWR bar-height w back #9 and love them! We’ve had them for a year and a half and none of my 3 maniacs have fallen. They clean up so easily with magic eraser sponge. I got them after I saw them in Emily’s kitchen before the Hedgehouse stools.

Rebecca Unter

We LOVE our counter stools from HAY. They are slightly contoured in the seat for comfort and the base revolves, not just the seat.


Now that I see this post, and I see the picture of the casa soria kitchen reveal again, it makes me want an update. I have an idea for a new post – UPDATES! how the space has changed, evolved since living in it for a year + etc. What worked, what has changed, what failed. What do you think??


I have three of the Jayson Home barstools that I purchased on FB Marketplace for $25 each! I had no idea they were a higher end brand, the previous owner said they were “vintage, from a bar in Chicago that closed it’s doors…” Keeping them forever now, haha!


Definitely the width of the seat is important to note. We had Number 10 – Ikea Skogsta and man is a smaller seat uncomfortable even after sitting for a short while. Sold them fairly swiftly!


I literally look up your sourcing for everything! Love tyhis!


Also to add, it’s nice to have a bar somewhere on the stool to rest your feet too!


This is great! We are looking to replace the barstools in our kitchen and this post is helping me narrow down what I’m looking for. Thanks!


One other key thing to look at is how much clearance you have between where the stools sit and where you walk. If the legs of the stools go past the back, you’ll stub your toes every time you walk past the island because your eye relies on where the back is not the legs. It seems like Emily’s black ones do that in the mountain house, but if there is enough clearance that would not be a problem.


We just put two of these in our new kitchen and they are sturdy, comfortable, and have character; they’re handmade by artisan Brad Smith:


Are shadow chairs and stools not ‘in fashion’ anymore?

Paula Carr

I’ve never found a comfortable barstool for me. I have short legs. If the footrest doesn’t adjust, I will be in GREAT discomfort after maybe five minutes. That’s why given a choice I’ll always pick a regular sized chair.


I’m in the market for some barstools and I love all these options- thank you! One question- I’m also shopping for a new kitchen table and chairs that will be adjacent to my island- should I be looking for chairs for the table that match? Similar wood tone? Help!

Elena Sullivan

I would like to give some feedback about the West Elm stools (#18 under “Counter Height Stools w/ Back”). I bought them for my island three years ago and I LOVE them! HOWEVER, it is important to know: there are little round metal bits on the bottom that help the stools glide along the floor. If you have children, (or really, anyone) eventually those little metal things will break off. (I have six stools, each with four metal bits, so 24 in total.) When this happens you are left with little jagged parts that can scratch your floors. I was… Read more »

maria jane

wow, amazing and informative stuff. I was also looking for these items which I can place in my office canteen. You can visit my website and suggest me the best tools for my work.

Bekah Schweiger

#4 under counter height stools stopped me in my tracks – the link is wrong though. It doesn’t click through to the right chairs. Personally, I found mine using a reverse image search on Amazon for $125 a piece.

Have a great day!

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