Bar Stools Style Guide

A Complete Guide to Buying Bar Stools

A Guide to Select Perfect Bar Stools

As kitchen islands grow in size, bar stools continue to grow in popularity. Whether you have an island, a bar, or simply need additional seating, stools come in a vast array of unique styles, colors, finishes, heights, trims and embellishments. It’s the perfect way to add stunning finishing touches in gathering places in your home. In fact, most people are quite surprised when they really dig into all that’s out on the market these days!

Since bar stools are an investment, you’ll want to double check the height and width of your counter top. From there you can start to pick from details like curved legs, intricate wood carvings, leather cushions, and painted finishes.

Whatever the style needs in your home, explore the guide below to make an impactful choice, high on style points:

  • Popular bar stool styles
  • Swivel bar stools
  • Unique bar stools
  • Tall bar stools
  • How to find the perfect size bar stools
  • Seat types
  • Finishing touches
  • Raising the bar

Popular Bar Stool Styles

Even though each home has a different style and mood, we’ve observed popular bar stool styles based on what people buy or share on social media. Here is a brief tour of five leading style categories including contemporary, traditional, transitional, modern and rustic/lodge bar stools for sale.

If your home has traditional decor, look for different styles of leather bar stools with arms for inspiration. These bring a classic elegance to your space with curved legs and wood carvings, and guests will find the leather cushion more comfortable. The intricate details will add a formal, upscale feel to your room, while adding balance to the homey nature of this aesthetic.

A transitional stool might feature curved legs and dark colors similar to traditional styles, but it easily works in many different home styles with its neutral fabrics and slim proportions. A few traditional details also help to keep the style sophisticated and timeless. A contemporary style stool will not have detailed carvings. These types of stools emphasizes simplicity, clean lines, lighter colors, and comfort throughout.

Because usefulness characterizes the modern style, a modern bar stools are typically square and easily stacked for storage in a small space. They come in a variety of colors and finishes. Unique rustic bar stools, on the other hand, will characteristically feature details of distressed wood or metal which give your home an industrial look.

We also carry a number of designs for bar-height bar stools, counter-height bar stools, and backless bar stools.

Swivel Bar Stools

Many people like having the option of moving around while they sit. Swivel bar stools are the perfect alternative to stationary bar stools. You can easily turn to face the kitchen or swivel your seat to talk with family or watch TV.

Swivel bar stools come in two variations: fixed height and adjustable height. Both types give you the freedom to rotate 360-degrees while sitting. But can also adjust the height of the stool lower or higher depending on your preferences. Some also come with footrests to adjust for height. Browse our selection of fixed height and adjustable swivel bar stools. Keep in mind that the height of your counters should fit the maximum height of the stool.

If you plan on spending lots of time sitting at the counter, you may want a bar stool with a back. They provide extra comfort for after those long days spent at work or school. They are also a great alternative for households with kids. Bar stools with backs may be a better option for added support and safety.

Unique Bar Stools

You might be looking for something totally unexpected in your home – a real conversation starter or sharp accent – so we have plenty of unique bar stools styles to choose from. If your style is more traditional, consider ornate woodwork as an interesting feature for your furniture. Many have unique carvings on the back and trim, from filigree to Fleur de Lis. Nailhead trim adds instant class to your stools, as well as a luxurious detail. Claw feet can be another fun and formal aspect on a stool.

If you want a sleek look, try a modern bar stool profile. These usually feature reflective metal, such as chrome, a low back, and adjustable height to display their characteristic usefulness. You’ll even see different styles of bases beyond the typical four legs. Acrylics are another favorite modern look, and clear acrylic works perfectly in small spaces that might be cluttered by additional furniture.

Distressed finishes are especially popular in a farmhouse or shabby chic home. Many times, these stools will present mixed materials, making them even more versatile for different spaces. The mix of distressed wood and metal carries on that practical industrial character, while adding a warm vintage feel.

Tall Bar Stools

Another great style is tall or extra tall bar stools. These types of stools can be great for social events where guests will be seated or standing. Tall bar stools allow for easy conversation without your standing guests looking down at someone who is seated.

The tallest stools, also called spectator or stadium stools, work well on the edge of a room or behind standard seats and couches when watching a game or movie.

How to Find the Perfect Size Bar Stools

Finding the right counter or bar stool height can be challenging. To help lift some of that burden, we’ve put together a quick guide on how to find the proper measurements.

Most bars range between 40’’ and 42’’ while counters range between 34’’ and 39’’. Your bar stool height should be about 9’’ and 11’’ from the bottom of the bar or counter. Measure from the floor to the top edge of your counter or bar to determine which stool height you need. Then take that number and subtract 10 to 13 inches, depending on how much leg room you want.

It’s also important to distinguish between seat and back height. For example, a seat that’s about 31 inches high will fit great beneath counters that are between 41 and 45 inches.

A diagram to show steps for effective bar stool seat height measurement

Diagram of Seat Height Measurements

You may also want to consider the distance from the seat to the bottom of the stool in comparison to the height of those who will be using it. Consider buying adjustable bar stools to accommodate people of various heights.

Seat Types

Another aspect to consider when purchasing a bar stool is the seat type. The most popular options are round, saddle, and square seats. The round seat is a common choice and looks great when swiveled around at any angle. It also keeps the casual feel typical for bar stools.

The saddle seat is comfortable and sturdy but can be wide for most kitchen islands or bars. Double check your measurements carefully before buying. In dark wood, square seats tend to look more formal and traditional; however, the popular metal bar stool is square and great for stacking if storage is necessary.

Finishing Touches

Last but not least, let’s talk about the many finishes for bar stools. (What’s pictured here isn’t even half of what we offer, so be sure to use the left navigation on the Bar Stools page to refine your search!)

Of course, there are different metals for your stools. Copper is a traditional and warm style that works with different décor – a great thing to consider if you move often. For the modern millennial, try the rose gold finish! This sleek style will definitely make a statement but can be a fun touch for minimalist spaces with little color. Pewter is another metal that leans traditional but also feels rustic, making it perfect for that modern farmhouse.

Dark brown wood or rattan always look classic and sturdy, working well in most traditional spaces. A black finish not only works as a bold accent in a minimalist space, but also looks bold with contemporary décor using darker colors to anchor a space. While dark wood with curves and carvings may look traditional, the same stool in white fits in a light and airy space. Keep in mind that the paint may show scuffing and dirt if used often. Choosing a finish will greatly depend on the size and function of your space. If these will be a popular seat at the kitchen counter, maybe choose a dark or easy to clean finish.

Raising the Bar

Depending on the purpose of your stools – from everyday dinner and homework sessions on the kitchen island to watching the big game – you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. If you entertain often, bar stools along the wall of a party will provide ample seating for guests.

In small spaces, the perfect stools can also help your kitchen counter double as a dining table. Chairs with arms provide extra comfort for your guests, but simple clean lines can bring balance to a room, as well. With your measurements in hand, and a vision in your mind, it’s time to start shopping!