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Dining rooms are great, but the hands down most commanding seat in the house is a barstool perfectly positioned at the kitchen island. Nestled under a constellation of statement-worthy pendant lights, the chair puts guests and family members in the center of the action, whether that’s a casual weeknight meal or the busy start of a holiday cocktail party. Given that status, the barstools you choose should have the right combination of comfort and aesthetics. 

Designers say that many of us default to the standard out of ease and convenience, but this is one piece of furniture you shouldn’t relegate to a decorative afterthought. In fact, a proper set of barstools can instantly elevate even the most modestly decorated rooms, inviting an element of interest to an otherwise one-dimensional space (and creating a go-to place to hang out). Whether your style skews modern or traditional—or is an eclectic mix of both—here are some of the most design-forward barstools available, as seen in a few of our favorite kitchen spaces. We’re confident that they deserve the spotlight in your very own. 

Our Favorites

Best Curvy Teak: Stowed Home Julia Barstool 

Bentwood Bar Stool

Set or single: Sold separately | Height: 26 inches | Material: Teak and leather

What we like:

  • Handmade 
  • Woman-owned  

Worth noting: 

  • Shipping delays 

Why we chose it: A sophisticated shape created with durable wood. 

“These are my favorite counter stools,” shares designer Abbie Naber, who has the black leather version in her home but recommends the blush to her SoCal clients. “They have a great comfort level, even though they don’t have a thick pad. The back of the chair hits in just the right place.” She also says the quality, minimalist design, and versatility of Stowed Home chairs are unmatched (its woman-owned status and top-notch customer service don’t hurt either). What we love about them? The curved silhouette, complete with a footrest so your feet aren’t left dangling. 

Photography by Charlotte Lea; Styling by En Shell

Best Vintage Steel: Haworth K700 Barstool

Black Tubular Paper Clip Bar Stool

Set or single: Sold separately | Height: 18–28 inches | Material: Metal

What we like:

  • Free shipping over $99 
  • Made in an eco-friendly facility 

Worth noting: 

  • White-glove delivery is extra 

Why we chose it: Where to look when your search for the elusive paper-clip style turns up empty-handed. 

The ’70s may be having a moment, but these tubular counter barstools—spotted in the founder of Tortuga Living’s kitchen—will forever remain a classic. If you’ve stalked Chairish and 1stDibs and struggled to get your hands on a Philip Salmon and Hugh Hamilton original, which first appeared on the market in 1969, Modern Planet offers Haworth’s cool take on the famed cantilevered seat with a twisted footrest. Still made from just one piece of steel, the streamlined perch is at once retro and futuristic in gleaming chrome, sleek and understated in black, and chic in every shade of gray in between.  

Courtesy of Tortuga Living

Best Woven Geometric: Natural Wicker Loren Counter Stool

Wicker Stool with Backrest and Metal Legs

Set or single: Sold separately | Height: 24 inches | Material: Wicker and metal 

What we like:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Ready to ship 

Worth noting:

  • Assembly required 

Why we chose it: Trendy wicker woven in a fun chevron pattern at an unbeatable price point. 

Sporting dark counters, khaki green cabinets, and silver appliances, the kitchen in this Austin new build was skewing cold, so designer Avery Cox resolved to bring in natural materials to warm it up. These stools were the perfect match. “The clean, geometric design of the seat back and the dark accented legs fit well with the island stone color, and I felt they held their own while still being very budget friendly,” she shares. “I also didn’t want anything that was too blocky—the room is light and airy—and I preferred something that had visual permeability.” Consider them in your own kitchen if you’re looking for an unfussy option to break up a colorful space or add organic texture in a sleek, graphic one. 

Photography by Andrea Calo

Best Saddle Style: Article Esse Light Oak Counter Stool

Saddle Stool

Set or single: Sold separately | Height: 28 inches | Material: Wood 

What we like:

  • Solid wood 
  • Narrow depth 
  • 30-day free exchanges 

Worth noting: 

  • Back in stock in six weeks
  • $49 delivery fee

Why we chose it: A space-saving design classic. 

Julie Arnold of Place Interiors went all in on the natural material in one project—this despite having a kitchen island made from reclaimed elm wood—by adding these solid wood seats. “I selected this classic style to blend with the Scandinavian mood of the cottage,” she explains, citing her best styling secret: matching another color of the wood in the kitchen, or choosing a lighter (or sometimes darker) species or stain to contrast with the cabinetry. “Since these counter stools are in plain sight from the dining and living areas, I chose the natural color, keeping the entire palette calming to the eye,” adds Arnold. If comfort is key, don’t be deterred by the stool’s simple base—a leather cushion is available for extra support. 

Photography by Julie Arnold

Best Bistro Shape: Serena & Lily Riviera Counter Stool 

Bistro Blue Stool

Set or single: Sold separately | Height: 26 inches | Material: Rattan 

What we like:

Worth noting:

  • Delivery expected in late December 

Why we chose it: An iconic stool that could easily be spotted on the streets of Paris. 

Whether in Coastal Blue, Gray Mist, Natural, or Pacific (a deep navy), these bistro stools in your kitchen will feel like an escape to Paris without the flight. Featured in Sibella Court’s former place—a colorful, character-filled Art Deco apartment in Sydney—these rattan beauties created a striking point of contrast in her dark blue cooking space. Court and her family have since moved, but the stools feel just as breezy in a much more subdued kitchen, perched next to a wood island and surrounded by white cabinets and glossy tiled walls. The point: They go well with everything

Photography by Anson Smart

Best Backless Cushion: France & Son Inna Barstool 

Almond Backless Bar Stool

Set or single: Sold separately | Height: 32 inches | Material: Fabric

What we like:

  • Protection plan offered against stains, spills, rips, and more 
  • Free shipping on orders over $49
  • 60-day returns 

Worth noting: 

  • Unknown shipping lead time 

Why we chose it: Maximum comfort meets streamlined design. 

This is the sort of stool you won’t mind posting up on long after cocktail hour has ended—just ask Shelby Girard, Havenly’s vice president of creative and design. She has a cushy almond and black version in the 19th-century Connecticut home she shares with her architect husband. They’re so stunning you never have to tuck them away, but, should the need arise, the backless silhouette slides right under an island for ease of mobility, and they blend in with just about any material while adding a touch of luxe texture. Choosing a color that’s light but forgiving can be tricky, but we think this warm, beigey cream is a great choice (the terracotta, tangerine, navy, and charcoal gray aren’t bad either).

Photography by Kylie Fitts

Best solid silhouette: Era Counter Barstool

White Era Stool

Set or single: Sold separately | Height: 26 inches | Material: Teak and leather

What we like:

  • Great for high-traffic dining areas 
  • The timeless form (it’s been around for 150 years) 
  • The footrest 

Worth noting: 

  • Available to ship in six weeks

Why we chose it: When you just want your seats to blend in with their surroundings. 

Brooklyn Home’s Holly Waterfield likens these stools to a classic button-down. “The Era stool is as functional, basic, and classic as a perfectly fitting white shirt,” she explains. “I wanted something that wasn’t going to ‘say too much,’ but also hold its own in my apartment, which is full of textiles and patterns.” They’re also sturdy enough for her kids, as the family likes to switch things up by eating meals at the counter and the dining table. Fair warning for the indecisive: You can choose between bar, table, or counter height; back or backless; and a few different colors (i.e., matte black, matte white, coffee, and black with a beech seat). 

Photography by Dana Gallagher; Styling by Helen Crowther

How We Chose These Products

To help inform and inspire as you search for your own set, we rounded up some of the best barstools as seen in our favorite kitchens. We also asked designers what they love about these products, why they were a good fit for the space, and if they’d recommend them to others. 

Our Shopping Checklist


Though the terms barstool and counter-height stool are used interchangeably, the former is typically taller. The standard seat of a barstool falls anywhere between 28 and 30 inches high; a counter-height stool seat is usually between 24 and 26 inches. In terms of depth, Cox doesn’t like to go bigger than 18 inches—it will take up too much space—or smaller than 16, which can get uncomfortable. “I’m all about the communal kitchen and gathering as many people as possible around an island, so the overall footprint of the stool is important,” she says. It’s just as important to consider a stool’s height to ensure it fits under the overhang of a bar top to keep circulation paths open when not in use.  


Go with what you like, but if you’re concerned about how the stools vibe with the rest of the home, Arnold takes cues from nearby materials or chairs, especially if the dining room is in sight. Otherwise evaluate the functionality for who will be using them the most and how often. “For example, if small children will be using them, having a sturdy base is important, so they don’t tip easily,” she points out. “Will this serve as a secondary work-from-home area, or will they be used as a perch off and on, with main seating taking place at the dining table?” In general, Arnold avoids swivels and arms, which tend to hit the counter. 


Barstools aren’t always the comfiest, especially if they’re backless. It’s important to ask yourself how you intend to use them. If you take more meals at your island than at the dining table, you’ll probably prioritize comfort. But Cox reveals that this wasn’t as important for her Austin clients, who have a surplus of seating options. And if your initial choice is a bit harsh on your bum, just buy a cushion. “I added pads from Etsy to make them more comfortable, but I didn’t want them to take up too much space visually,” offers Waterfield, “so they match the tone of the walls and countertop, and therefore blend.” 

Ask Domino

Q: How many barstools should I put around my kitchen counter? 

“A good rule of thumb is that each seat needs about 24 inches of space,” says Cox, a number that includes both the width of the chair and the space in between; for Arnold, she likes to save anywhere from 6 to 10 inches between each seat. Though that formula is even simpler for Waterfield: Just make sure there’s a seat for everyone in your household. 

Q: Should my barstools match the rest of my kitchen’s decor scheme? 

This is all up to personal preference, but Arnold likes to pull an accent color or material from the island or other surrounding elements, such as kitchen cabinets or the countertop. “Either match another color of wood in the kitchen or choose a lighter or darker wood color to contrast the cabinets,” she advises. 

Q: Where can I buy the best barstools? 

If you didn’t find what you were looking for on this list, there are plenty of other sources Domino editors swear by: Anthropologie for rich textiles and bohemian glam; Artek for an elevated twist on the everyday; CB2 for a little bit of everything; Hay for the quintessence of contemporary cool; IKEA (of course) for affordable, Scandi-modern options; and Restoration Hardware for vintage-inspired luxe. 

The Last Word

Soaking up less square footage than a larger set of dining chairs, counter stools are great for all sorts of occasions, from casual weeknight dinners to hangouts with friends. They’re also more fun—who doesn’t love sitting around a kitchen island, chatting and grazing as a meal comes together? If you’re looking for the best barstools to save space or add coziness, choose from one of our favorites and scooch on over.