The Best Kitchen Barstools for Every Budget

Choosing barstools can be tricky. HGTV Magazine enlisted Design Star judge Vern Yip to share 10 tips to help you make the right choice.
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Photo By: Photo: Todd Plitt/HGTV

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Photo By: Courtesy of Manufacturer

Here's a Confession:

It's taken me seven months to find the perfect barstools for my soon-to-be-renovated kitchen. The decision is a lot trickier than choosing chairs for a table. Since barstools are taller and your feet don't rest on the floor, a comfortable seat is key, as is a foot-support bar at the right height to avoid awkward leg dangling. Other things to consider: Round or square? Swivel or stationary? Here are some tricks I've learned to help you find the right stools for your space.

Watch the Distance

The distance from seat to countertop is important. For comfort, aim for 11 inches — so if your counter is 36 inches high, choose a stool that's 25 inches high. For a 42-inch breakfast bar, you'll need one 31 inches tall. Klismos red barstool, $99, westelm.com

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Focus on Spacing

Barstools should be farther apart than dining chairs. Aim for about 28 inches from the middle of one stool to the middle of the next. (Dining chairs, which require less legroom, need just 24 inches.) Measure the amount of space you have for your stools, then divide by 28 — that's how many you should buy. But if there are protruding brackets under the counter that take up leg space, you may not be able to fit as many stools. Hyacinth barstool, $129, zgallerie.com

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Consider Backless

A backless stool looks sleeker and less bulky, but if you're going to use the stools regularly for eating, you'll be happier with a backrest. Knoll Jamaica swivel stool, $828, allmodern.com

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Give It a Rest

Not all stools have a footrest, but that bottom bar does make sitting more comfortable. If you need versatility, look for stools that have an adjustable footrest or two bars at different heights. Barstool, $100, kohls.com

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Think About the Whole Family

Think about everyone in the family. If you have children, you might want to get adjustable-height stools so they can reach the counter to eat and do their homework. It may mean their feet don't reach the footrest, but kids are used to dangling, so it doesn't bother them. It's more important that the seat is close enough to the countertop. Boca adjustable barstool, $150, jcpenney.com

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Round vs. Square

Round stools take up a little less space than square ones. Both styles look nice, but I think that round barstools tend to be less disruptive to a room's flow. Hamilton bentwood stool, $129, homedecorators.com

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Make It Swivel

If your space is tight, choose stools with swiveling seats. You want to be able to turn easily to have a conversation without having to pull the barstool out and push it back. Marguerite barstool, $329, ballarddesigns.com

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Consider Your Countertops

If they have a heavy pattern like granite or marble, go for subtle barstools, maybe wood in the same color family as your cabinets. If your countertops are plainer, like a solid-color laminate or butcher block, the stools can have more pizzazz — try bright leather, vinyl or an upholstered fabric. Perry barstool in Delray Azure easy care fabric, $371, ballarddesigns.com

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A Common Misconception

Heavy barstools aren't necessarily the sturdiest ones. I love polycarbonate (a type of heavy-duty plastic), which is lightweight but very durable, so pay more attention to the stool's material than its weight. Collins barstool, $249, roomandboard.com

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Protect Your Floors!

Some stools come with protective caps that cover the feet, but if I'm buying a style that doesn't have these, I always add self-adhesive felt pads to the bottoms so the stools don't scratch the floor. Vienna green barstool, $179, crateandbarrel.com

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