Kitchen islands are like the brunch options of dining rooms. It’s not quite formal but still manages to be intimate and meaningful.
But what’s a kitchen island without well designed, comfortable barstools? You can check out my favorite barstool – Belleeze Bar Stool – at Amazon.
Dining at the kitchen island is appropriate for a proper meal, but it can also be well suited for a quick snack.
And, for small groups, it can be a very cozy way to have any meal of the day.
One or two people can cook, while the rest of the company chats away at the kitchen island, without excluding the home chef.
No kitchen is an island
The islands in many kitchens are not as isolated as the name would suggest. For time immemorial, there have been central areas to a kitchen for us to ‘hang out’.
And the kitchen island is where all the conversation takes place. Although a kitchen island is not connected to any walls it’s by no means a quiet space. Rather, it’s home to all the chatter, laughing and storytelling.
It was not until the 1950’s when kitchen islands in the United States became the social centers that they are now. Kitchen islands rapidly became popular spots for casual meals, romantic late-night candlelit wine chats, or just a space for the kids to hang out after school over cookies and milk.
For many households, the kitchen island is understood to be the veritable heart of domestic enterprise. Littered with unread mail, hats and gloves, phonebooks, and notes, the use of the kitchen island is only as limited as the interests and occupations of the members of the household.
Setting the bar (stool) high
Literally and figuratively, the island is the centerpiece of the kitchen.
Therefore, it is critical to the aesthetically savvy kitchen owner to arrange the island thoughtfully.
The most important asset to the kitchen island is the selection of barstools surrounding it.
The number of stools and the design of the stools surrounding your kitchen island are as important to the functionality of the island as china and cutlery is to an elegant meal.
There are as many styles of barstools available as there are styles of kitchens and kitchen islands. Because of the individual nature of taste and sense of aesthetics, there is no objectively ‘perfect’ or even ‘better’ barstool.
It’s simply a matter of taste and cohesion with what already exists in the kitchen (as long as you have a well-made stool). With that said, let’s look at some of the most popular and well-crafted barstools on the market, to help the curious kitchen designer make an educated decision about how to accentuate their kitchen island.
What makes a quality bar stool?
If it’s true that the kitchen island is the place everybody tends to congregate (and it is), then it’s necessary to have bar stools that are inviting to your guest and comfortable to sit in.
Nothing kills a good vibe and causes the crowd to disperse like uncomfortable seating arrangements. And as the designated chef for most gatherings, I can tell you, being alone in the kitchen is pretty darn depressing at dinner parties. PLEASE don’t do that to yourself.
But what exactly does it mean to have an inviting barstool?
How high your stool sits is critical to comfy seating arrangements around the kitchen island. Have a stool that is too short and your arms will get tired of reaching up the whole time. Get one that’s too tall and you’ll spend most of your time in the seat crashing your legs into the countertop.
When we talk about bar stool height, we have to recognize there are 3 different sizes to deal with; counter stools, spectator stools, and actual “bar height” stools.
- Counter stools: Meant for standard height counters, these stools range from 24 to 26-inches.
- Spectator stools: Also called stadium stools, they are the tallest of all the bar stools and range from 34 to 36-inches.
- Bar stools: Like the name would suggest, these are made specifically for the bar. They are typically around 30-inches high.
Thankfully, the bar stool industry recognizes that we want bar stool options that fit more than one type of countertop. Now we have the option to get adjustable stools that will fit any size kitchen island.
Soft place to rest your rump
Nothing, and I do mean nothing is worse than a chair that doesn’t give adequate rear end support. A numb hiney probably isn’t anybody’s idea of comfort.
Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t get a bar stool that has a hard surface. But if you do, you should know that people won’t be sitting there for long. Or, you can get some separate cushions to put on the stool (also a great way to add your own flair to your furniture).
Where do your feet go?
There’s nothing quite as humorous as a grown man sitting in a chair with his feet dangling in the air. Incidentally, there’s nothing quite as humiliating as being that grown man. I mean, who’s going to take me seriously while my feet are flailing about. Plus, feet are heavier than you might think after a while.
Make sure you get a bar stool with a place to rest your feet. Your guests probably won’t thank you for it, but they’ll certainly let you know how uncomfortable your seats are if they don’t have a footrest.
Let’s be honest with ourselves here. We’re getting bar stools right!!
So it stands to reason that we will be doing “a bit of” (code for quite a bit of) drinking at our kitchen islands. I know the island is where I most enjoy adult beverages.
And what goes hand-in-hand with adult beverages? Loss of balance of course – its called tipsy for a reason!!
The combination of a flimsy stool that can’t be trusted to stay right-side-up and booze is a disaster in waiting. The last thing you want is to tip back one too many long islands, then your chair tips back right along with you.
Make sure the stools you select are sturdy enough to make you feel comfortable relaxing in, being vigilant about not tipping our chairs over doesn’t make for a very fun evening.
This isn’t absolutely essential, it’s more about personal preferences. But it’s also probably a safe bet that most people are going to want to lean back a bit and take some pressure off their lower backs while sitting down. Otherwise, we’d just remain standing.
A high backrest isn’t needed, in fact, it isn’t really even wanted in a barstool. But something that lets you lean back a bit every so often is a great feature in a barstool. Opt for a low to mid-back barstool for optimal comfort without sacrificing the minimalistic look of a bar stool.
Bart of the kitchen island allure is that it’s a place that everybody can gather around and catch up with each other, and your furniture should accommodate that. A barstool that is too cumbersome makes it difficult to pull your seat up to the table, that’s simply unacceptable.
That means mobility is key in a barstool. Swinging from on side to the next is a must when engaging with multiple people, opt for a barstool that swivels whenever possible.
Barstools—not just for bars
While barstools for kitchen islands are a matter of individual taste, there are a few basic ideas that most kitchen island users will likely agree on regarding design…
A slim-yet-sturdy base is important so that the stool doesn’t crowd the kitchen. Stools without arms will allow for easier eating, and facilitate a full range of body motion—many people sitting at kitchen islands are actively swinging their bodies to talk to people stationed all around the kitchen.
Leopard Outdoor Products Swivel Bar Stools (Set of 2)
I absolutely love the modern and curved look of these bar stools with chrome stem, base, and footrest. These chairs look graceful and inviting when you first lay eyes on them. And when you finally get to sit down, it 100° lives up to the expectations it sets.
If you’re looking for a kitchen stool that matches almost any decor, look no further: you have a choice of 12 amazing colors, including vivid orange, sky blue, and red. Adjustable seat height from about 34 to 42 inches.
Challiman Bar Stool – Signature Design by Ashley
Signature Design by Ashley offers their Challiman Counter Height Bar Stool as a simple, elegant design. This plank-style barstool features a round, wooden veneered seat with no back.
Industrial-style metal legs feature adjustable feet. The sturdy iron construction of the legs and leg brace offer dependable support, and the circular iron brace provides a comfortable place to rest feet.
These stools come in a set of two, making it a true bargain. At a height of two feet (at the lowest setting of the adjustable feet) and a width at the base of only 14 inches, this stool will comfortably accommodate most kitchen islands.
Furmax Bar Stool PU leather Adjustable Bar
One of my favorite barstools is this set from Furmax. It’s quilted white design with a chrome base gives the chair a beautiful modern look for a very friendly price. The base is adjustable and can be raised up to 32-inches and lowered to 24-inches, fitting both bars and kitchen islands.
The backrest stops at the mid back giving you ample support without adding unnecessary bulk to the seat. And, of course, it has the all-important 360° swivel capabilities – and yes a place to rest your feet too.
It comes as a set of two barstools, and I’m really not sure that you can beat the price of these. They are great for those of us looking for a beautiful piece of furniture (two pieces in this case) without spending a bunch of money
Pinnadel Swivel Bar Stool
Another barstool designed by Ashley Furniture, personally I am not a fan of their designs but a lot of people love them so they definitely deserve to be on the list. It has a light brown finish with a hint of gray in it, making it ideal for who like the rustic look in their furniture. Definitely isn’t a piece that you would put in a colorful area, but does look nice when paired with other earthy colors.
It has a 360° swivel giving you a full range of motion so you’ll never feel restricted. The dark brown cushion has a low profile but is soft enough to provide adequate comfort for those times you just don’t feel like getting out of your seat.
You’ve got the option to purchase this in counter height or bar height, it isn’t adjustable so be sure to get the get size you need.
GIA Low Back Metal Barstool
The GIA Low Back Metal Barstool combines the aesthetic of faded, brushed steel structure with a veneered wooden seat for a classy, modern style.
The strong design can withstand more than 300 pounds, accommodating most guests at the kitchen island. A low-rise back and conveniently placed foot-bar allow for maximum comfort.
The 17-inch base fits snugly along most kitchen islands, and at 30 inches high, it will accommodate even the highest kitchen islands. Though this stool is only available in a set of one (it can be purchased in a four pack at a discounted price), its stackable construction makes it a barstool that you can easily stow away.
Zuri Furniture Lush Square Base Armless Bar Stool
When you’re looking for class, style, and sophistication, you need to be looking at the “Lush” barstool from Zuri Furniture. This bar stool is the apex of bar stool luxury. From the sharp angles of the design to the comfy, plush cushioning everything about this stool is beautiful
Whoever designed this clearly put a lot of effort into it. There are no wasted materials used, everything is perfectly placed and optimized for comfort.
You can find this stool in a multitude of vibrant colors that are guaranteed to liven up your kitchen area.
Costway Swivel Backless Bar Stools (Set of 2)
A modern twist on the old traditional bar stool, the Costway Swivel is going add that little bit of flair almost ALL kitchens so desperately need. A shiny chrome base with your choice of black, brown, or polar bear white polyurethane leather makes a wonderful addition to any living space.
Usually, I would recommend staying away from a backless stool (our spines really need support and obviously backless seats don’t do that). But if you are looking for a clean minimalist look in your kitchen, then these seats are absolutely perfect.
The low profile of these barstools takes up almost no space at all, allowing you to line your kitchen with these without adding any clutter. Adjustable, ranging from 26.4 to 30.3-inches, it fits both standard and bar height countertops.
Belleze Bar Stool Adjustable Faux Leather Swivel
Lightweight, sturdy, stylish, comfy, and most important, durable, this 2-piece barstool set from Belleze is freaking awesome.
The chairs can support 300 lbs easily, although the way the chair backing wraps around your body it may not be very comfortable if you are of a larger build. I’m not exactly sure what the back support is made of, but it is surprisingly sturdy and offers much more support than you might think before sitting in it.
It uses a sturdy hydraulic adjustment system that doesn’t slowly sink while you’re sitting down (if it drops about an inch or so when you first sit, don’t panic, that’s normal for these stools).
The color options for this set are; black, dark brown, red, and white.
Brage Living PU Adjustable Height Barstool
The Brage Living PU Adjustable Height Barstool comes in a set of two and is a great value for the modern style kitchen island.
Featuring a fully rotating plastic and foam designed cushion seat with back and gas-lift height adjustment, these stools are the utmost in customizable comfort.
The flat base with has a rubber ring which prevents it from scratching your kitchen floor and the single chrome rod design means these stools won’t take up any more room around the kitchen island than necessary.
This barstool also comes in four designer colors: brick, black, brown, and white. Each stool has an attached footrest for comfort while you enjoy your coffee and toast.
So you’ve spent the night entertaining guests at your home bar, and now you’re feeling tender. Check out these food ideas to help ease your hangover.
Meet me at the island
Now that you’ve been introduced to a few standard designs of kitchen island barstools, you can begin to create a cozy, versatile space in your home.
A place for casual meals, intimate conversations, and social happenings. Breathe new life into the heart of your kitchen with these wonderful kitchen island barstools!