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We suspect the first seat ever invented was a simple stool. To prove the genius of the stool’s cavewoman inventor (it must have been that chic Wilma Flintstone!), the only way humankind has improved upon the humble stool’s perfect form is to introduce the all-important swivel (so thankfully women everywhere can now dramatically pivot to make a point). Traditional or modern, rustic or contemporary, all hail the original seat!


A great way to achieve the perfect design is by purchasing a vintage stool. A used stool will add incomparable uniqueness to your space, not to mention function. Vintage stools range from ottomans to bar stools, meaning that they can go in just about every room in the home. Stools are an essential part of the kitchen island, they are also perfect for a home bar, and a low stool can add charm and functionality to a bathroom vanity.

But before achieving the perfect design, it is crucial to get back to the basics. When searching for the perfect vintage stool for your space, consider height, features, comfort and style. Even the best stool design will fall short if the right height isn’t considered. Read on for design tips on how to finish a room with a vintage stool that encompasses perfection.


Barstools and counter stools, in almost every way, are exactly alike, except when it comes to their height. Bar counters tend to be quite a bit taller than the traditional kitchen countertop; therefore, barstools stand higher than counter stools. This isn’t to say that barstools can’t work at a kitchen counter. If a kitchen island features a two-tiered design, meaning there is traditional kitchen countertop for prep with a taller, sitting counter, barstools can be just the thing that’s needed.


Before deciding on the perfect stool design, the proper measurements must be taken. There is nothing worse than choosing the perfect stools and then discovering they are too high or too low for the accompanying table or bar. A kitchen table generally stands between 28 and 30 inches in height, so the chair or stool paired with this table has a seat height of between 17 and 18 inches. A bar is usually between 40 and 42 inches tall, meaning a stool with a seat height of 28 to 30 inches would be best. Don’t forget to measure the seat height, either. It’s often a key piece of information that gets overlooked.


Stools can range from quite basic and simple to very unique. When purchasing them, there are a number of different features to consider.

ADJUSTABLE: Some stools feature adjustable seats, just like the chairs at hair salons. These stools can add a retro or modern design to any space, depending on the seat design and color of the metal.

FOOTREST: If comfort is important, consider choosing a stool with a built-in footrest. This feature is especially nice in taller barstools so the feet have somewhere to rest. Sacrificing style for comfort is unnecessary with these stools. Adding a footrest to the stool can give off anything from a chic to a vintage vibe.

FOLDING: If the stools aren’t needed all the time, or the space is rather small, folding stools can be the perfect solution for your space. You can display these unique stools when family and friends gather, and at the end of the day, fold them up for easy storage.

SWIVEL: Who doesn’t love twisting around while sitting at the counter? If so, consider completing the sitting area with swivel stools. These can be perfect for great rooms so the seated person can chat with people in both the kitchen and living room simply by swiveling their seat around. Plus, kids will have a blast taking a ride on these stools.


It may sound trivial, but the stool’s back can make or break the design of a space. With many options to choose from, consider the theme of the room when selecting the perfect stool.

No back or Low back

Backless stools are the most common design, allowing for more mobility when seated. They are also perfect for small spaces, as the stool can be tucked away underneath the countertop. If the stool is located in an open room, it may be best to consider these stools, as sightlines will not be blocked with their backless design. Alternatively, low back stools are perfect for those who want the look and feel of backless stools but need extra support.

High Back

If comfort is what is desired, then go with a high-back stool, as they offer full back support. Aside from their comfort features, design is not lacking with these stools. Finish off the space by adding high-back stools with vintage fabric or try a solid stool with wooden features. A cross back design showcases an “x” pattern of wood on the back and can be perfect for a vintage, pub-like setting. The ladder-back design features horizontal slats arranged vertically along the back of the stool. These can add a rustic or country vibe to any room. Mission-back-designed barstools are the opposite of ladder-back-designed barstools, in that their slats are arranged horizontally along the back of the stool. If the other chairs in the room have Windsor backs, consider matching barstools. The Windsor back design features a rounded back with vertical posts arranged along the back of the stool. These are often showcased in a vintage, farmhouse design.

The perfect stool can add a vintage vibe or sleek sophistication and really finish off the room. Before purchasing the perfect stool, remember to measure the counter height in order to allow for the proper leg space between the stool and the tabletop and consider the ideal stool back (or no back) for the space.