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10 Traits in Buying a Comfortable Bar Stool

When searching for the perfect bar stool, aspects like price, availability, and style often dominate the decision-making process.

However, it’s crucial to prioritize comfort.

Given that your stools will host you for extended durations—be it during a relaxed morning coffee or a vibrant evening with guests—it’s essential to ensure they provide a comfortable seating experience.

To aid your selection process, we’ve curated a list of 10 characteristics that denote a comfortable bar stool.

Trait #1: Bar Stools With Backs

Looking for comfortable seating at a bar or counter? Comfortable bar stools with backs are a top choice. Not only do they provide superior comfort, but they are also ideal for those who anticipate lengthy conversations or extended periods of sitting.

Enhanced Stability and Posture

Backrests promote better posture and can reduce the risk of backaches or discomfort.

Additionally, they can add an element of safety, preventing accidental backward falls and providing a sturdier seating option.

Aesthetic Appeal of Backrest Stools

Lastly, stools with backrests often have a more refined aesthetic, enhancing the overall ambiance of a room or space.

Brief Use and Backless Stools

On the other hand, if you’re only using the stool for a quick cup of coffee or for short periods, backless stools could be more suitable.

Wesley Allen's Macias Modern Square Bar Stool with Back in Brass Bisque - Front Side View
Trica Biscaro Stool with High Back
Amisco Brixton Swivel Stool with Back

Trait #2: Cushioned Seats

Enhanced Comfort with Cushioned Seats

For those in search of seating comfort, bar stools with cushioned seats are a game-changer. The padded surface, being softer than wooden seats, makes these comfy bar stools an excellent choice for those desiring added comfort.

Suggestion for Wooden Seats

If you prefer the look of wooden seats, you can still achieve a higher level of comfort by using tie-on seat pads. These removable cushions can be added to wooden seats and provide an extra layer of padding. They are also convenient for washing, ensuring that your bar stools remain hygienic and comfortable to use.

Wesley Allen's Raleigh Traditional Black and Brown Metal Bar Stool with Cross Back Design
Trica Creation Collection Swivel Stool with Wine Back Design
Creation Collection
Amisco's Ronny Modern Swivel Bar Stool in Silver

Trait #3: Deep Seats

Bar stools with deep seats are more comfortable for those who are taller or have longer legs.

Benefits of a Deep Seat

With a deep seat, you can rest your legs comfortably without feeling any discomfort or pressure on your thighs, which is a common issue with shallower seats.

Recommendations for Taller Individuals

For those on the taller side, bar stools with deeper and more spacious seats are essential. Investing in comfortable counter stools like these ensures that you get better support for your legs, allowing for a relaxed seating experience without any undue pressure or discomfort.

Wesley Allen's Humphrey Tilt Swivel Bar Stool in Gold Metal Finish and Blue Seat Cushion with Arms - Side View
Darafeev's #600 Upholstered Swivel Wood Stool with Arms in Tobacco Oak Finish
Leathercraft's Charlie 4828-10 Non-Swivel Wood Bar Stool with Low Back

Trait #4: Properly Sized Seats

It’s essential to choose a bar stool with a seat size that matches your body type for optimal comfort.

Shallow Seats: Ideal for Shorter Individuals

Shallow seats, which are shorter from front to back, work well for shorter individuals with shorter legs because they provide better leg support.

Challenges of Too Shallow Seats

If the seat is too shallow, it can be uncomfortable for taller individuals as their legs might not fit comfortably on the seat. This can lead to their legs dangling, causing additional pressure on the thigh, ultimately taking away from comfort.

Drawbacks of Overly Deep Seats

On the other hand, if the seat is too deep, the person might not be able to reach the footrest, which can also affect comfort.

Wesley Allen's Woodland Swivel Bar Stool with Hammered Back and Round Seat
Amisco's Costa Modern Silver Bar Stool with Low Back
Trica's Chateau Modern Swivel Brushed Steel Bar Stool with Cross Back Design and White Seat Cushion

Trait #5: Wide Seats

Wide seat bar stools offer exceptional comfort, especially for taller or larger individuals. Even for those of average height and size, wider stools provide a more relaxed and comfortable seating experience.

Benefits of Width in Seating

Wide bar stools provide a greater sense of space and a more expansive seating experience.

Space Considerations

If you have enough room in your space and are in search of comfy bar stools, we highly recommend considering extra wide bar stools for their added comfort and overall aesthetic appeal.

Holland's Catalina Big-And-Tall Swivel Barstool with Nickel Metal Finish and Blue Seat Vinyl
Catalina XL
Darafeev's Metra Modern Luxury Bar Stool in Black Wood and Red Leather with Arms
Amisco's Ethan XL Stationary Modern Upholstered Bar Stool with Low Back
Ethan XL

Trait #6: Curved Backs

Bar stools with curved backs provide better support for the back, making them more comfortable than those with flat backs.


A rounded shape to the back of the stool offers more significant support, reducing the strain on your lower back muscles.

Variability in Comfort Preferences

It’s important to note that everyone has a unique body structure and preference when it comes to comfort. While curved backrests are generally considered more comfortable, some individuals might feel more at ease with a flat backrest.

The Importance of Personal Testing

Ultimately, the best approach is to try out different stool designs to find the one that suits your body type and provides optimal comfort.

Trica's Liv Modern Swivel Bar Stool Upholstered with Low Back
Darafeev's Ace Wooden Modern Swivel Bar Stool with Low Back in Gray and Black
Wesley Allen's Boston Swivel Barstool with Arms, Lattice Back Design and Square Seat Cushion

Trait #7: Low Backrests

Bar stools with low backrests, around 8 inches high, can be very comfortable if they have a rounded back design that supports the lower back.

Hugging Comfort of Rounded Backrests

The rounded backrest design offers a comforting embrace to the lower back, fostering improved posture.

Limitations of Low Backrests

It’s essential to keep in mind that lower backrests do not support the upper back and may not be suitable for those who have upper back problems.

If you plan to sit at the counter for an extended length of time, a full-size backrest on the stool will provide fuller support and prevent upper back pain.

Choosing the Right Backrest for Extended Use

Therefore, if you have any upper back issues or plan to sit for an extended period, it’s recommended to choose a bar stool with a full-size backrest to ensure optimal comfort and support.

Amisco Ethan Stationary Stool with Low Back
Amisco's Ronny Swivel Modern Kitchen Counter Stool in Silver and Blue
Darafeev's Gen Wood Upholstered Swivel Bar Stool with Low Back in Rustic Pewter

Trait #8: Upholstered Backs

Padded bar stools with backs provide an added layer of comfort compared to those with metal or wooden backrests.

Soft Seating Experience

The cushioned material offers a softer feel, making the stool more comfortable to sit on for extended periods, a hallmark of comfortable counter stools.

Upholstered vs. Hard Backrests

While some people may not mind the feeling of cold metal or wood against their back, upholstered backrests are an excellent option for those who prefer a warmer, cozier feel.

Elegance in Upholstery

Furthermore, plush upholstered backs and seats are sometimes preferred in specific styles and designs that evoke a softer, more luxurious vibe.

Trica's Arthur Armless Swivel Bar Stool with Button-Tufted Upholstered Back and Seat - Shown in Black Metal Frame and Gray Seat
Arthur 1
Amisco's Umbria Upholstered Swivel Metal Bar Stool with Low Back in Silver Metal and White Pattern
Darafeev's Classic Upholstered Swivel Wood Bar Stool with Arms and Nailhead Trim

Trait #9: Backless Bar Stools with Padded Seats

Backless bar stools can be a comfortable seating option, particularly when they have padded seats that offer extra cushioning.

Importance of Seat Width

When selecting a backless stool, it’s crucial to ensure that the seat is wide enough to accommodate your buttocks without feeling unstable or uncomfortable.

Features of Saddle Bar Stools

Backless saddle bar stools have wide seats, but are relatively narrow, making them ideal for tucking under an island or bar. They feature indented seats that resemble a saddle, which offers added comfort and support.

Compensating Comfort with Padded Seats

Keep in mind that although backless stools do not have a backrest, padded seats can provide enough comfort and support to make up for it.

Amisco's Miller Stationary Rectangular Saddle Backless Barstool with Upholstered Seat Cushion and Metal Legs
Wesley Allen's Nyx Modern Backless Bar Stool in Gold
Wesley Allen's Dodge Backless Industrial Stool

Trait #10: Bar Stools With Arms

Bar stools with arms can be more comfortable for extended periods, as they provide a place to rest your arms and relax while socializing with friends or family.

Space Considerations for Armrests

Keep in mind that armrests will make the stool wider, so it’s essential to measure your space to ensure the stool will fit comfortably.

Benefits in Larger Spaces

If you have a larger area, stools with arms are an excellent option to consider. They can provide additional comfort and support, especially for those who prefer a more relaxed seating position.

Armless Comfort Options

On the other hand, armless stools can also be comfortable, particularly when you can rest your arms on the counter.

Balancing Preference and Space

It all comes down to personal preference and what works best for your specific needs and space constraints.

Darafeev's #977 Billiard Spectator Bar Stool with Pool Cue Holder and Drink Holders with Arms
Wesley Allen's Edmonton Comfortable Swivel Barstool with Cross Back Design and Arms
Amisco's Cardin Silver Swivel Bar Stool with Arms and Light Blue Cushion

Common Questions

What type of cushioning is the most comfortable for bar stools?

Memory foam, high-density foam, or thick polyfill are often recommended for maximum comfort.

What features make a bar stool more comfortable?

Features like backrests, footrests, armrests, padding, and a swivel mechanism can enhance comfort.

What’s the importance of a footrest on a bar stool?

Footrests allow you to place your feet comfortably and can reduce pressure on the thighs, enhancing overall comfort.

How does the material of the frame (wood, metal, etc.) impact comfort?

While the frame material might not directly influence the cushion’s comfort, a sturdy frame ensures stability, indirectly affecting the comfort and safety of the stool.

Bringing It All Together:
The Comfort Counter Stool Guide

As showcased above, the essence of comfort in a bar stool cannot be stressed enough.

From the design of the backrest to the depth of the seat, each element plays a pivotal role in ensuring your seating experience is unparalleled.

Whether it’s for a brief morning routine or a lengthy evening chat, investing in a comfortable counter stool enriches both your physical well-being and the overall ambiance of the space.

Utilize our list as a guide, and ensure your chosen stool resonates with your comfort preferences and complements your room’s aesthetics. Happy seating!

Article updated on October 12, 2023

Posted by Deborah

on in Bar Stool Tips


Deborah has spent over 20 years as a design professional helping others create the kitchen of their dreams. She's drawn to modern kitchens, colorful interiors, and living comfortably.