If you’ve ever agonized over choosing the right bar stool for your space, you’re not alone. It’s a seemingly simple concept…with about a million variables that could take your overall design down different pathways.
Whether you’re looking for kitchen bar stools, actual bar bar stools, nook bar stools, or something else entirely, here are 24 things to consider that, we hope, will help you narrow down your search. Don’t worry. The perfect bar stool is out there, and you’ll find it.
1. Function – What will they be used for?How often?
Basically, the first thing you need to think about is in what space the bar stools will be going. This will provide a perfect starting point in your search. Will they be at the kitchen island and be used every day, many times a day? Or will they be tucked away in the basement kitchenette for the occasional holiday party?
2. Style – Modern?
Because bar stools are a taller seating piece, they tend to be noticeable. A glossy modern stool or three can go a long way toward making an entire area feel more contemporary, if that is your aim.
3. Style – Industrial?
Metal, wood, even leather – the combination of the primary materials for industrial style are perfect for a variety of bar stools. If the style of your space happens to be leaning toward industrial already, enjoy the many bar stool options that complement that design.
4. Style – Eclectic?
You might be best served by simply gravitating toward the type of bar stool that you love…just as you gravitate toward the variety of treasures you’ve already incorporated into your space. The bar stools will feel right at home.
5. Style – Something else altogether?
A little retro meets industrial meets vintage with some bar stools. This can create the perfect transition between two seemingly disparate spaces, if that’s what you need.
6. Color – Neutral?
If natural, earthy tones speak to you in general, then keep this look going in your bar stool choice. There are plenty of beautiful neutral bar stools out there…and you’ll know that, with its being neutral and all, you will love it in your home.
7. Color – Blend In?
Nothing blends in quite like acrylic, and bar stools made this way are no exception. This adds a sleek, contemporary, almost commercial feel to the bar space.
8. Color – Stand Out?
Even if the bar stool is the only color in the entire neutral space, it can be enough to add fresh life and personality.
You’ll want to measure your counter height and make sure there is enough space between the bar stool seat and the bottom of the counter. A 10”-12” difference is recommended for optimum comfort and functionality.
10. Frame – Metal?
Metal has many benefits as a bar stool medium. It is durable, easy to clean, and stylishly versatile. Metal bar stools also tend to be visually lighter-weight than other types of stools, which is definitely something to keep in mind.
11. Frame – Wood?
By their very nature of being wood, wooden frame bar stools tend to carry more visual punch than other materials, which are able to be manipulated for weight-bearing capacities. Wooden frames can be quite versatile, as they look fantastic in a cottage setting as well as provide a lovely earthy contrast in a more contemporary one.
Upholstered seats are, as a general rule, certainly more comfortable than their non-padded counterparts. But there are pros and cons when considering upholstery on a seat that sees more than its fair share of staining potential.
13. Seat – Fabric?
Fabric is definitely one of the easiest ways to bring in color and pattern into a space with bar stools. (Spaces that, typically, may be short on both of those design aspects.) Fabric bar stools tend to be comfortable and pretty, although probably the hardest to clean.
14. Seat – Leather?
Whenever food and drink are in the picture, leather is a solid upholstery option. Period.
15. Seat – Something else altogether?
Wood, plastic, fiberglass… What your bar stool seat is made of can be anything, really. Not that this fact makes your decision any easier. But if you’re stuck, think about practicality – if you want to be able to wipe it clean, something non-upholstered might be the way to go. (Except for leather.)
16. Functionality – Kid-Friendly?
If kids are in the picture, you’ll definitely want to weigh more heavily those characteristics such as sturdiness (to prevent their accidentally tipping over), durability, and ease of cleaning.
17. Functionality – Adults Only?
Of course, if the bar stools will be used exclusively (or, at least, primarily) by adults, you can afford to safely go with lower backs, more delicate stability, and swivel options.
18. Shape – Square?
There’s something about the crisp, no-nonsense lines of a square bar stool that make it a perfect choice in a modern kitchen. Structure, order, and functionality in one piece. Done and done.
19. Shape – Circle?
Sometimes a space with lots of hard angles, such as a kitchen, can greatly benefit from a few curves here and there. A rounded bar stool might be just the thing.
20. Design – Backrest?
A backrest tends to be more comfortable. If your bar stool is in an area you’d like people to stop and stay awhile, this is definitely an option to consider.
21. Design – No Backrest?
Just because a bar stool is designed without a back doesn’t mean it will lack comfort. Plus, stools without a back can be space-savers, tucking neatly under the countertop.
Multiple options for swiveling bar stools exist – they can swivel out from attachment to the counter itself (a space-saving function) or the bar stool’s seat can swivel on top of its own frame. Keep in mind arm rests if you opt for swiveling; if you have arm rests on your bar stool, they should be lower than your counter to keep from destroying the counter’s edge over time.
23. Paired with Nearby Chairs?
If your bar stool area is nearby other chairs, you might consider coordinating the seating throughout the space. This isn’t to say you should run out to the nearest furniture store and buy a set of identical-except-for-height chairs and stools. But you could consider keeping one style element similar for consistency, such as the wicker seats in this photo.
We’re all woefully constrained by budget in our decorating dreams, are we not? But the good, no, great news is that no matter your budget, if you consider these 24 things in your search, you will be able to find a bar stool that completes your space perfectly.