The 4 best bar stools in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • If you have a bar at home or want to create more seating at a counter, you'll need great bar stools.
  • Our top pick, Winsome's Wood 29-Inch Saddle Seat is neutral and won't clash with your current setup.
  • If you're looking to spruce up your bar further, check out our guide to the best drinking glasses.

Maybe you need a few seats for an actual bartop, or maybe you just need some by your kitchen countertop or island so you can avoid having a dining room table and save that precious space in your apartment.

Bar stools are often the best way to maximize kitchen and bar counter seating in your home, and there's any number of sizes and styles that can be as utilitarian or plush as you like.

There are several factors we considered when selecting the best bar stools including design, versatility, and durability, but shopping for home decor is a very personal choice. If you choose to go in a different direction than one of our selections here, skip to the bottom of this guide to see our full criteria for selecting great bar stools and a few tips you want to keep in mind when shopping.

Here are the best bar stools in 2021

Best bar stools overall
bar stool winsome wood

The Winsome Wood 29-Inch Saddle Seat Bar Stool is an affordable saddle-style stool that comes in a handful of wood finishes to suit any decor. 

Pros: Adaptable style, economical design, high-quality construction and materials, price

Cons: Assembly may be a bit challenging

The Winsome Wood Saddle Seat Bar Stool is timeless with a saddle-style seat that goes with nearly any countertop setup. The stool has a sturdy solid wood construction, and since it's made out of natural hardwood, it can support more weight than you would guess.

When it comes to purchasing the Winsome Wood stool, you have an impressive amount of options. It's available in both counter stool and bar stool heights, plus you can pick the color that works best for you with options of matte black, walnut, or natural wood finishes. Also, you can purchase the stools individually, rather than in pairs, which is helpful in case you need an odd number.

As a backless, armrest-free bar stool, it's economical and can be a real space saver that you simply slide under your countertop when not needed. It also doesn't scream bar stool so you could easily set an extra one in a corner of your home without completely messing up the aesthetics of your place.  

It does not come assembled, and we can gather that it may be a little troublesome to do so, but that's probably dependent upon how much assembly experience you actually have.

Best bar stools for comfort
bar stools

With a padded leather seat and back support, the Roundhill Furniture Swivel Leather Bar Stool is so comfortable that getting up afterward may be a problem.

Pros: Comfort is on point, price, ease of assembly, adjustable from counter to bar height

Cons: Seat cushion may show hand marks and require frequent cleaning, hydraulic system is not the smoothest

Just looking at the Roundhill Furniture Swivel Leather Bar Stool you can see that it's comfortable. It's designed with comfort in mind with backed faux-leather seats that have been injected with foam. It has a footrest and a 360-degree swivel feature, making it easy to fit in a variety of spaces.

The Roundhill stools also feature an airlift design, making it adjustable from 24-inches to 30 inches, so you can use it at a counter or a bar. It's versatile, modern, and comes with a price tag that's hard to beat.

The Roundhill stool is truly contemporary so it's best if you have a bar area that at least borders on contemporary as well. On the other hand, this bar stool could be the decorative part you need to spruce the whole room up. The only downside is the airlift design isn't the smoothest, but for the features, style, and price point we still consider it to be a great bar stool option.

Best stackable bar stools
metal bar stools

These metal stools from AmeriHome can be stacked easily so they're ideal for small spaces, and they're highly durable making them great for high-traffic areas.

Pros: Can support plenty of weight, stackable, and easy to store

Cons: Paint can get dinged or scraped

It's likely you've seen some resemblance of this bar stool design in a friend's home or at a dining or drinking establishment. The AmeriHome MetalBar Stool is a fixture of so many restaurants for good reason — they're affordable and highly durable. The metal stool is painted in a scratch-resistant, powder coat finish and it features no-mar rubber feet that keep it from sliding and scratching your floors.  

The AmeriHome MetalBar Stool is available in bar-compatible seat heights of 24 inches or 30 inches for counter and bar seating respectively. If you want a low stool for use at a standard-height table, the MetalBar stool is also available at an 18-inch height. The seat size is 12-by-12-inches making it easy to measure out how many of them you need. Because it's not as wide as many others, you can probably squeeze more of these stools in under your countertop, if desired.

Without backs or armrests, you can easily skirt it under your countertop, and because of its unique shape, it's also stackable, so you can store them in a closet to save space. A handle is smartly built into the seat that makes it extra easy to pick up and move around.

I've sat on a model of this bar stool before, although it was at countertop height, and found it to be more comfortable than it looks, which I credit mostly to the footrests. I also found the stool kept me sitting more upright and proper, but in a very comfortable way. I didn't feel any back pain after sitting with better-than-normal posture for an extended period of time, which I normally do on other stools that make me slouch.

Best simple bar stools
Two Winsome Pacey chairs in walnut at a kitchen counter adorned with a plant and a fruit bowl

The Winsome 29-Inch Square Leg Bar Stool is so minimal yet practical that when you think of a bar stool, this is probably what you'd imagine.

Pros: High-quality build, traditional design, unintrusive look that won't distract from other areas of the room, comes fully assembled

Cons: Because it comes fully assembled, you risk damages with shipping

If you need bar stools to simply do what they're supposed to, these Winsome Wood ones do just that. There's nothing fancy or dazzling about the stool and that's what we like. It comes in a few different wood finishes, so it's unlikely to clash with most bar setups, and at 29 inches, it's the perfect bar height. The stools come fully assembled and ready to go.

It's also one of the few round seated bar stools on our list that's a perfect 25 inches wide, so it may be one of the easiest purchases to measure out beforehand. It's also a fairly narrow-shaped stool, so it's likely you can fit in an extra one or maybe two if quantity is a top priority for you.  

Because of its simplicity, this bar stool is a fine option if you already have a rather 'loud' countertop and don't want to worry about clashing colors. The sleek finish and square leg design make it a stool that won't draw too much attention, or distract from other areas of your room you aim to highlight.

How to shop for bar stools
bar stools

These are our top picks for the best bar stools, but since home decor is often a highly personal choice, you may want to go in a different direction. If you do, there are some things to keep in mind as you shop.

  • Bar stools versus counter stools: First of all, counter stools differ from bar stools, but if you don't bother or know to look through the details of a product, it's easy to get them confused just by browsing product pictures. The common thinking is counter stools are around 24 inches tall and are designed for sitting at a kitchen counter, while bar stools tend to be 30 inches tall and are usually thought of more as stools for a libation counter.
  • Measure and do the math: To find the best bar stool for your home you have to do a little math (sorry) to calculate what will fit best. To figure out the proper height of your stool, measure your bar height and subtract 10 inches from that number.
  • Spacing is key: Traditionally bar stools are further apart than kitchen chairs, so the number of stools you have in your head when you look at your currently stool-less bar, might not be the number that will actually fit. The general thinking is you should aim for 28 inches from the middle of one stool to the middle of another. To get an estimate on the number, you can fit measure the length of your bar and then divide it by 28. Also, keep in mind that if your bar has brackets under it, you may not be able to fit as many stools.
  • Seat width and comfort: Then you have to factor in the width of your stool seats, which are, as a rough estimate, usually 15, 17, or 21 inches wide. Here it comes down to the question of do you want more comfortable seating with wider seats, or do you want room for more stools? 

There are many different bar stool designs to match your personal preferences and aesthetics. 

There are a handful of factors that come into the design of bar stools, many of which have to do with personal preference and room aesthetics. Some things to keep in mind are stool backs, footrests, round or square seats, and the material of the stool.

  • Backs and footrests: Backless bar stools tend to look more refined and sleek, but bar stools with backs will be more comfortable if you're going to be spending a lot of time on them doing things such as eating and lounging. When it comes to footrests you may not need one because your bar already has a bracket underneath the front side, but if it doesn't, and you're going back and forth on which model to buy, consider getting stools with an adjustable footrest, or those that have two footrests of different heights, both which give you more versatility.
  • Round versus square seating is primarily a personal preference but it's helpful to know that round stools usually take up more space. Also, it's a common misperception that heavier stools are sturdiest. They're not — they simply look that way. Instead of checking out the weight of the stools, take a look at their material, which will give you a better idea of how durable and heavy they are.
  • Match your stools to the decor: Think about the space you plan to put the bar stools. You don't want the stools to clash with the design of your countertop. For example, if your countertop is already pretty loud with color and design, it's best to go with more minimalistic, subtle bar stools. Alternatively, if your bar space is lacking in that 'it' element you can definitely go with more decorative colors and designs. Also, if you get wooden bar stools you probably want the wood to match the wood in other areas of your room.
  • Saving space: If your counter space is limited, consider swivel bar stools, and if your room space is limited, opt for bar stools without arms (which will be most backless bar stools) so you can tuck them under the counter when not in use.
  • Protect your floor from scratches: To keep your floors protected, make note of if the bar stools have protective caps on the bottom before ordering, otherwise you may need to add some adhesive felt.

The best bar stools will meet a handful of all of these factors, be comfortable, and appeal to your style preferences.

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