20+ Different Types of Bar Stools (with Photos)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

If your home features a bar or an open counter space, you’ll likely want to pair it with some comfortable and appealing stool seating. With the rise in popularity of dining counters and breakfast bars, bar stools have quickly become a staple in the kitchen. While purchasing bar stools may not be life-altering, it’s important that you choose the right ones to ensure that they serve their purpose properly.

Before you head out to snatch up a set, you have quite a bit to consider, as there are countless types of bar stools out there. From backless, armless, adjustable, and stationary to wicker, leather, wood, and upholstered bar stools, the options are virtually endless. Choosing the right bar stool for your kitchen or bar begins with determining an appropriate height. Then, you can explore all of the various styles, materials, and colors to decide what works best for your space.

With so many types of bar stools to choose from, you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed. However, that’s where we come in. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the various types of bar stools to help shed some light on the available options and simplify the buying process for you!

What is the Difference Between Bar Stools and Counter Stools?

The terms bar stools and counter stools are often used interchangeably, though, they are two different pieces of furniture. What sets bar stools and counter stools apart is their height. Bar stools, as their name indicates, are designed to go underneath a bar – whether it’s a breakfast bar, outdoor bar, standalone bar, or one that serves as a divider between your kitchen and your living space. A traditional bar height table, or pub table, can also be paired with a bar stool.

Counter stools, on the other hand, can typically serve as multi-purpose seating options in other rooms, especially areas that are limited on space. When compared to bar stools, counter stools are shorter. As a result, they are often an excellent fit for dining tables, breakfast nooks, kitchen counters, desks, counter-height tables, and more. Both options come in a range of color schemes and styles, so you should have little trouble finding a set that matches your décor.

Even though a stool may be labeled “counter” or “bar” this does not mean that it will perfectly fit underneath your counter or bar. To ensure that you’re purchasing the right size stool, you should always measure the space accordingly first.

What are the Different Bar Stool Heights?

There’s nothing more frustrating, unsightly, and uncomfortable than a bar stool that is either too short or too tall. With that said, let’s break down the two most common heights and how to choose which is best.

Quick Tip: It is very important that you measure your bar, island, or table first. Then, select a bar stool that allows for between 9 and 12 inches of space between the base of the countertop or table and the top of the stool.

Traditional Bar Stools

Most bars are roughly 40 to 42 inches high, meaning you’ll need a bar stool with a height that ranges from 28 to 33 inches. This range is also the same size bar stool you’ll likely find in both bars and restaurants.

Counter Stools

Slightly shorter, counter stools are generally between 24 and 27 inches tall. They are designed to fit underneath surfaces that are approximately 36 inches from the ground. This is the standard height of most islands and kitchen countertops, so counter stools are best suited for these applications. Their height is also standard with common kitchen appliances like stoves and dishwashers.

Of course, if you opt for an adjustable stool, the height may sit outside of these ranges.

Types of Bar Stools

Once you determine the appropriate height for your bar stools, you can start perusing the various types. Bar stools come in a wide array of styles and shapes. Aside from finding a style that fits your space, you also want one that will fit your comfort needs. The following are some of the many types of bar stools available on the market.

Adjustable Bar Stools

Available on Wayfair

As the name suggests, adjustable bar stools are designed to accommodate a variety of different heights. By simply touching the lever, you can adjust the height of the seat to your liking. This can be especially beneficial if your counters are an unusual height or if you have children that need a bit of a boost.

When purchasing an adjustable bar or counter stools, make sure that you look at the range it offers to ensure it meets your needs. Most often, they’ll have a range of six to 10 inches.

Extra Tall Bar Stools

Available from Lamps Plus

You may have an extra-tall countertop surface or table that you need to find appropriate bar stools for. In this case, you can either use an adjustable stool or purchase an extra tall bar stool. These types of bar stools tend to stand anywhere from 34 to 40 inches high.

Swivel Bar Stools

Available on Wayfair

Swivel bar stools do exactly as the name indicates – the seat has the ability to swivel around the base because it is not fixed. With this type of bar stool, you can turn around without having to hop off of the stool. However, when you opt for swivel stools, you’ll want to allow for additional room between each seat. This will make it much easier for users to get in and out of the stool.

Stationary Bar Stools

Available from Home Depot

Unlike swivel bar stools, stationary bar stools have fixed seats. This means that you cannot turn fully around in the seat without having to get up. These types of bar stools come in a variety of styles, materials, and heights.

Bucket Bar Stools

Available from VQV Furniture Group

Bucket bar stools are a common style found in bars and restaurants due to their sturdy construction and comfortability. Opt for a material like vinyl to have a bar stool that is easy to clean and will resist general wear and tear.

Backless Bar Stools

Available from West Elm

Backless bar stools create a very streamlined look in your kitchen or at your home bar. They effortless slide right under the counter, meaning they take up less visual and physical space. As such, backless bar stools are a great seating solution for small spaces.

Armless Bar Stools

Available from Walmart

As you might expect, this type of bar stool does not have arms. Like backless bar stools, armless bar stools don’t take up as much space and allow for easier access. Oftentimes, you’ll find a number of bar stools that lack both arms and a back.

Bar Stools with Arms

Available from Pottery Barn

Opting for bar stools that do have arms can enhance will enhance the comfortability of your seating arrangements. Although, unlike armless varieties, they do not offer easy access.

Bistro Style Bar Stools

Available on OCFurniture.com

Bistro, or Riviera, style bar stools are a wonderful French café-inspired style that will look great in virtually any kitchen design. This style of bar stool can be found in virtually every material – from rattan to metal to wood.

Distressed Metal Bar Stools

Available from Flash Furniture

For a bold look with a lot of industrial flair, you can opt for some distressed metal bar stools. These types of bar stools are an excellent choice for rustic-style cafes or restaurants.

Pub Style Stools

Another great choice for restaurants and cafes are these pub-style bar stools. Like bucket bar stools, you can opt for a vinyl material so that the seats will be much easier to clean. The bar stools pictured above would work perfectly in an Irish pub.

X-Back or Bentwood Bar Stools

Available from Wayfair

These bar stools give a subtle nod to the past with their timeless crisscrossing design, all while still offer comfortability in a modern home. As the name suggests, bentwood bar stools are constructed out of bentwood. They can work well with virtually any other type of chair that you have in the space. For example, if you have a dining table or breakfast nook nearby, a set of X-back stools won’t compete too much, while still looking very visually appealing.

Bar Stool Materials

Like virtually any other furniture piece, when it comes to choosing the right bar stools, the material is important. Whether you’re looking to achieve a particular look or want something that is durable enough to withstand heavy use, here are some options you have to choose from:

Leather Bar Stools

Available from Pottery Barn

When it comes to price, leather is on the high end of the spectrum. Leather bar stools can be found in a variety of styles and colors. They work incredibly well in luxurious interiors and will create wonderful visual interest. Leather also tends to require slightly more maintenance, when compared to other alternatives, but is relatively easy to clean.

Available from Target

Faux leather is also available if you want to achieve a similar look in a more affordable, environmentally-friendly option.

Wood Bar Stools

Available from Wayfair

Though they’re often pricey, wood bar stools are a solid, durable option that can fit virtually any design aesthetic. There are numerous wood species to choose from, depending on the look you’re going for. For additional comfort, you can choose a wooden bar stool that features an upholstered cushion.

Though, if you’re looking for wood bar stools that can go outside, you’ll want to choose denser woods such as acacia, eucalyptus, and teak – which are inspect-repelling and weather resistant.

Beautifully crafted out of solid oak, this bar stool offers a steadfast construction and simple design. Available from Article.

These gorgeous mid-century modern bar stools are constructed out of solid walnut, featuring a warm finish, solid frame, and a curved seat and back for added comfort. These stools also come in two different heights. Available from West Elm.

Crafted from solid wood in a cherry finish, these bar stools are backless and can be easily tucked away when not in use. Their simple and compact design makes them ideal for small spaces. This type of bar stool will fit great into your home bar, game room, or even your kitchen. It also comes in a set of two, for added convenience. Available from Lowes.

Upholstered Bar Stools

Available from World Market

A fabric bar stool is a classic option that offers limitless possibilities. Whether you land on a more casual slipcover or gorgeous tufted fabric, opting for an upholstered bar stool ensures comfort and style. You can even purchase bar stools with outdoor-safe fabrics, if need be. Bleachable upholstery can also be found, giving you peace of mind knowing that those pesky inevitable stains can easily be cleaned up.

Sleek and modern bar stools with velvet upholstery and a curved back for maximum comfort. Available from Wayfair.

An elegant camelback design, accentuated with diamond tufting, brings comfort and sophistication to your kitchen or home bar. Available from Pottery Barn.

Plastic/ Acrylic Bar Stools

Available on Amazon

Plastic or acrylic bar stools are an excellent choice if you have children, as they are incredibly easy to keep clean. Although they offer little in terms of comfort, they are often very affordable and can be found in a wide array of styles. Many opt for plastic bar stools for their outdoor living spaces because of their durability and resistance to the elements.

Metal Bar Stools

Available on Amazon

Metal bar stools are a typically modern and sometimes futuristic-looking choice for your home. They are great for areas that will see heavy use, as the materials are durable and easy to clean. These types of bar stools may come with or without a backrest and with or without arms, depending on the look you’re going for.

These metal bar stools that feature a backrest are great for a restaurant, garage, brewpub, or industrial kitchen. Available from Wayfair.

Wicker and Rattan Bar Stools

Available from Home Depot

Although typically considered a vintage or coastal material, wicker can create a casual ambiance in your kitchen and will easily blend into virtually any type of décor. Their timeless appeal works just as well in a kitchen as in a sunroom. These types of bar stools are very lightweight and easy to move around. You can even purchase bar stools with all-weather wicker or rattan for use outdoors.

These bar stools offer an update on the classic, traditional wicker style. Available from Target.

Mixed Materials

Available from Wayfair

Choosing a bar stool that combines metal with upholstery, or metal with wood, is a foolproof way to add both interest and warmth to your home.

How to Choose the Color of Your Bar Stools

Now that you are familiar with the various types of bar stool available, you may be wondering how to choose the right color. First, you want to look at the colors that already exist in your kitchen and then you can choose a color for your bar stool using a couple of different methods:

  • Contrast with the wood accents in your kitchen.
  • Match your bar stools to your lighting fixtures.
  • Pick a color for your bar stools that offsets the dominant color of your kitchen.
  • Play with combing materials, textures, and patterns for a unique look.
  • Match your bar stools to the dominant colors in your countertops.

How to Measure for Bar Stools

Bar stools heights are determined by measuring from the floor to the top of the seat. The seat height that is listed in the product description will help you gauge where the stool is going to be positioned in relation to the bar or counter top. To measure for your new bar stools, follow these steps:

  • Start by measuring the height of your bar or counter from the floor to the top of the surface.
  • Figure out how much space you want between the bar and your lap, while seated. As a general rule of thumb, the seat of the stool should be approximately 10 inches from the counter’s underside.
  • Subtract the number of inches you decided on in the previous step from the height of your bar you gathered in the first step. This will yield the target height for your new bar stools.
  • Measure your counter or bar from end to end to determine how many bar stools you’ll need. Ideally, you want at least six inches of arm from between stools.

If you want stools that swivel or have arms, you should allow for at least six inches between each stool. Overall, adjustable stools are great for those who’d rather be able to customize the height of their bar stool seat.

Quick Tip: Make sure to also keep in mind the weight capacity of the bar stool that you are considering to ensure that it will provide sufficient support.

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Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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