Whether we’re grabbing a quick bite, gathering for breakfast, doing homework or catching up with friends over a glass of wine, the central kitchen island is an important focal point in the family home – for which we need a stylish set of bar stools.

If you’re looking to furnish your breakfast bar, kitchen island or at-home drinks bar with a set of stools, there’s a wealth of possibilities to suit your style and, of course, space. Backless bar stools tuck in neatly, giving you an important extra few inches if you need them, while others are more like mini-armchairs on stilts, focusing on the sitter’s comfort rather than space-saving.

Some offer back support but can tuck in too, with smart and streamlined designs. It’s important to measure up properly, not only looking at the overall height and width of the stools, but specifically seat height.

You’ll need to ensure your bar stools are the perfect fit, maintaining good posture when seated, without your knees knocking below. We tested our favourite stools on the market, looking for great design, sturdiness (we don’t want any wobbles) and, of course, comfort.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Atkin & Thyme bastille bar stool set of two: £289

Dimensions: W 41cm x H 94cm 
Seat height: 76cm

Sold in a set of two, these industrial-chic bar stools are crafted from bright, polished antique brass plate and boast slender frames with gently curved seats that give just enough back support without interrupting their simple form. We found the pair to be a beautiful addition to our kitchen island, adding modern glamour with a slice of Parisian cafe cool. Embrace the house jewels – this bold as brass metallics trend is here to stay.

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Aiston rattan woven bar stool with back rest: £166, Cult Furniture 

Dimensions: W 60cm x H 106cm   
Seat height: 77cm

Rattan is everywhere at the moment, not just the garden. Indoors, the pale natural material brings boho charm, offering the kind of laidback appeal you’d usually associate with outdoor eating – perfect for casual family dinners in the kitchen. We loved the sharp contrast between the sleek, contemporary frame and the curved and comfy rattan seat – in itself a deceptively sturdy structure.

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Modern Wire bar stools: from £312

Dimensions: W 34.5cm x H 72cm​
Seat height: 75cm

Bristol brand Modern Wire creates mid-century inspired furniture pieces with a contemporary edge. The bar stools could come straight out of a classic American diner were it not for their sculptural steel bases, twisted and shaped like works of modern art. Plus, you can choose your shape, from cage to spiral, dart to drum. We loved the hairpin design with its nifty triangular footrest, choosing traffic yellow for the base with a red leather seat – bespoke options are seemingly endless.

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George Oliver swivel bar stool: £125.99, Wayfair 

Dimensions: W 43cm x H 102cm 
Seat height: 76cm 

A direct homage to mid-century modern Danish design, these striking stools will add a slice of retro flair to your breakfast bar. Line them up in threes (or more) for a smart uniform look. The voids in the angular backrests successfully break up the solid dark wood, while the smooth, faux-leather seating borrows straight from the classic dining chairs of the 1960s. But with the addition of a few inches, a footrest and a nifty swivel action, these Sixties dining chairs have grown up.

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Missoni Home mister bar stool: £1,090, Go Modern 

Dimensions: W 53cm x H 96cm; W53cm x H 105 cm

Go Modern promises to introduce a whole new audience to the Italian brand’s exquisite wares – beyond the stripy soft furnishings. In this case, a beautiful zebra-like bar stool crafted from robust steel with a polyurethane-filled cushion to create a supportive seat. We loved the way the fabric covers every centimetre of the stool from tip to toe, and if the black and white doesn’t suit, you can choose from a tantalising collection of Missoni textiles.

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Swoon coombes stool, dark mango wood: £119

Dimensions: W 35cm x H 75cm 

If there’s one thing Swoon does brilliantly, it’s contemporary luxe, as evidenced in this elegant hexagonal bar stool. We loved the two-tone colourway: the rich, walnut-stained mango wood seat is offset beautifully with a bright brass-plated steel frame. But of course, what makes this high seat stand out is its shaping. Its honeycomb-inspired form makes it a thing of beauty, from whichever angle you view it. Swoon? Yes we did.

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Bloomingville haze black rattan bar stool: £115, Beaumonde 

Dimensions: W 35cm x H 71cm  

Just as pale rattan is enjoying an indoor revival, so we’re seeing more indoor rattan furniture pieces in jet black, awarding the natural material an edgier, rock ‘n’ roll vibe. We loved the vintage Seventies style of this craft-driven bar stool. A versatile number, we found this black beauty worked well in any space, including the bedroom. Made entirely from sustainable materials, it also boasts impressive eco credentials.

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Sweetpea & Willow sahara bar stool: £141

Dimensions: W 44cm x H 76cm  

With its ergonomic weathered oak seat and slender metal frame, the sahara bar stool is a triumph of form and function. We found the wooden seat to be surprisingly comfortable, even after a lengthy lunch, and felt its supportive shape allowed us to sit back slightly without fear of falling off. Its seemingly delicate legs are expertly curved to support the weight of any sitter, awarding it design points beyond the aesthetic.

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Dwell malla bar stool, mustard: £129

Dimensions: W 51cm x H 120cm 
Seat height: 75cm 

This fun and funky bar stool offers a smart, contemporary look with its perforated mesh-like seat adding texture, while the bright mustard hue lend cheery colour. We found the seat to be perfectly shaped for comfort with a supportive backrest. Its slim, steel legs in contrasting black are an elegant touch. Why not add a daring dash of colour to an otherwise neutral kitchen scheme?

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The verdict: Bar stools 

Atkin & Thyme’s bastille bar stools successfully mix modern glamour with the industrial, bringing a fresh slice of Parisian cafe culture to our kitchen. The antique brass gives them an aged and vintage appeal while their shape is wholly contemporary, resulting in a truly eye-catching product. Sold in a pair, they offer bang for your buck. We loved Cult Living’s aiston rattan woven bar stool, too, for its enveloping structure and boho appeal.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.