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Kitchen Bar Stools: A Complete Guide

How do you know if your kitchen is complete? It may have a gorgeous table and set of chairs, top of the line pots and pans, decorative jars. But no kitchen is truly complete without some counter or bar stools. Whether you’re looking to outfit your kitchen’s industrial style or simply add flair to your home, stools are the subtle answer. Not only will they serve as the centerpiece of the space, but they’re also the most versatile addition you can include in your home.

The right kind of bar stool can be tricky, especially when choosing a set that complements your home’s aesthetic instead of contradict it. Follow this guide to find the best style of stool for your kitchen.

Choosing the Right Height for Your Kitchen Bar Stool

There are three primary heights of stools: counter, bar and spectator (or stadium). The type you get really depends on the height you need. Before stool hunting, it is recommended that you measure your kitchen counter, table, or wherever you’re placing your stools.

Counter stools are the shortest and typically line right up with a standard-height counter at 36 inches tall. Counter stools can typically be found between 24-26 inches. Bar stools are the next in height—for counters that are typically at 42 inches. So, bar stools will be found at around 30 inches—the perfect height for a pub table. Spectator or stadium stools are the tallest, designed for 48-inch high tables or counters. The stools will measure from 34 to 26 inches high.

Once you’ve decided on a height, you can browse their different styles.

Full Back or High Back Stools

There are three different types of backs to stools: high/full backs, partial/low backs, or no backs. If you like a lot of support for your bar stools, go for a high or full back stool. They can be solid backs (of wood or metal or even upholstered), or they can come in numerous shapes and designs, such as a cross back beam, ladder shaped beams, or Windsor beams (which are vertical). These are perfect for country or rustic styles of kitchens.

Partial Back or Low Back Stools

These are the perfect compromise between high backs and no backs. They have the look of no back stools, but still give the lower back some much needed support. They work perfectly for contemporary or mid-century styles.

No Back Stools

No back stools are the most versatile style of stool. They can work with almost any kind of home style or aesthetic, depending on the frame and the materials of the stools.


If your kitchen has the country or Americana theme, then you definitely want your stools to fit right in. Country stools typically are wooden, and they have the aesthetic of a rocking chair. They typically have foot rests and ladder backs.


Tiki bar stools are perfect for a backyard or porch kitchen or table. But they’re also a great complement to the rustic theme in your kitchen. You can even up style them with different colored satin ribbons.


Mid-century stools are perfect for a wide variety of themes and aesthetics. They are strong and durable, and they can work in both a full mid-century style kitchen, or you can use them in modern kitchen seamlessly. Mid-century stools typically have bold colors and have a very graphic style. They are made with plastic, metal, or wood. The Series 7 Stool by Arne Jacobson in 1955 is a perfect example of a minimalist mid-century stool that comes in different hues and finishes.


Contemporary, or modern, stools are bright colored or monotone—this way they become an accent color in the kitchen. The shapes are sometimes not typical for bar stools, such as very plain backless squares, or even circular stools. The point of contemporary stools is for their interesting shapes, lines, and geometric design to take the focal point. They can be extremely complex or extremely simple and minimalistic. Even classics with a twist can be considered contemporary stools.


Saddle stools are perfect for a Western or Country aesthetic, or even a rustic theme. They have no back and are more rectangular in shape—reminiscent of a horse saddle.


Think IKEA. Scandinavian bar stools are pretty minimalistic and light hued. They can have a full back, a partial back, or no back. They typically are reminiscent of Nordic style by highlighting the wooden aspect. They work perfectly with a contemporary or mid-century style kitchen.


These are hand-crafted, wooden stools that resemble barrels—the legs are curved. They are the perfect fit for country or rustic styles. You can even use them for your porch bars.


Rustic bar stools can work with coastal themes and country themes. They include barrel stools, saddle stools, and even Tiki stools sometimes. A rustic stool, regardless of its height or back, will always have thick wood exposed. If you like wood to be the focal point of your kitchen, rustic stools are perfect for you.


Another wood-based bar stools is the coastal style. These are typically made of reclaimed wood, suggestive of wood that was washed up on the beach. They are typically gray or lighter colored and have a worn look to them. They work perfectly in white, light blue, or sea foam green color schemes. They are also perfect for not only your kitchen, but also the front or back porch.


Metal bar stools are fully metal: they have no plastic, no fabric, no leather. They work perfectly with an Industrial theme or contemporary theme. Many have no backs at all. The metal can be natural, or painted for an accent color.


Leather bar stools work perfect for rustic kitchens or more sophisticated styles. The color of the leather can match the color scheme of the kitchen, or you can have a vast contrast between light leather color and the dark metal or wood of the stool legs. You can even add pops of color in the leather for white kitchens.

Fabric prints

Printed fabrics can add a special touch to your bar stools that leather and metal alone can’t do. They’re ideal for experimenting with different patterns and color schemes. Fabric can also give the stools a more casual look, or a more contemporary one, depending on the pattern you choose.


These stools typically have a sleek metal base and a wooden seat. They can have backs or not. They are typically made out of dark metal or iron. These are a perfect style that fits naturally with any kitchen because of the stainless steel or iron of kitchen appliances and cookware.