Stool is really a catch-all word that applies to a wide range of chairs. Generally it can be any sort of chair without a back or armrest, though the height of the legs can also make a regular dining chair seat into a ‘stool’.
While they’re most often seen behind a breakfast bar or perched round a kitchen island, stools can be used everywhere round the house. They’re usually lighter and easier to carry, allow a bit more freedom of movement to people sitting on them and can visually look a lot more interesting - not to mention more casual and easy-going.
Bar stools are also higher up than chairs, which can make them feel that little bit more ‘special’ and eventful. Read below and you’ll find out why stools are a becoming a more popular way to mix up the seating in your home.
The differences between stools are more subtle than, say, the differences between a dining chair and an armchair, but this guide will help you part your kitchen stool from your bar stool in no time.
Depending on what you want to use it for, stool height is one of the most important factors before you buy. To choose the right level, think about the height of the table you’ll be seating at, and the heights of the people who are going to be using them.
Bar stools in particular can come in a variety of heights and remember - you can also get adjustable stools, which is good if you have a large family or a busy house full of guests!
One of the great things about stools is that they can be easily repurposed around the house. Because the design’s fairly simple and pared-down, a metal Tolix-inspired stool can work as a side table in your bedroom, and then be brought down to the kitchen or garden when you and your guests need further seats. Here’s some tips on how to use them in each space:
If you’re searching for seating for a breakfast bar or kitchen island, bar stools are the one. And if that’s your primary dining space, then you might want to pick stools with backs, to feel a little more formal and provide extra comfort if your guests are stopping there for hours at a time.
There are no rules stating that you can’t use smaller stools instead of dining chairs either - if you have less space, stacking stools and a fold-up table might be even better than dining chairs. Stools around a dining table can give laid-back, canteen-like cool to a room. Small stools are also a far more stylish and versatile choice if you’re looking for a step stool in your kitchen.
Stools can come into their own as side tables, extra seating and even stands for plants and decorations as part of a vignette. The key here is to make sure you don’t choose anything too tall: a stool lower than the height of your sofa arms, or around the height of a coffee or side table, should do the trick.
Metal stools make ideal garden seating. You’ll notice more and more cafes and bars doing this as they can be a tad less expensive than traditional garden seating, can hold up to a fair amount of scrapes and scratches and most importantly, stackable metal stools are unobtrusive when stashed inside on rainy days.
Smaller stools have a place everywhere from the hallway (creating a little spot for putting on your shoes while running out the door) to kids’ rooms and the bathroom (a nice perch, especially for keeping an eye on your kids while they’re in the tub).
The choice of materials can really make a chair stand out, and it’s worth thinking about this before you take the plunge:
Wooden stools are slightly more refined, though you’ll often find wood and metal combined for a two-tone effect. Some metal stools also feature wooden tops, which can make them a little comfier for those that are bothered about sitting on just metal.
Easy to scrub down, colourful, lightweight - what’s not to like about plastic? Our Moda plastic seats bring freshness to any kitchen and give a striking contrast against natural materials.</p
Metal stools are an incredibly popular thanks to their heavy-duty nature, making them perfect for using indoors and out, and giving a rugged, utility-like feel. Painted versions also look charming once they’ve acquired a few scuffs over the years.
As we mentioned earlier, if you’ve got people of various heights using your stool, or if it’s one you might want to use round a breakfast bar one day, as an office chair the next, then adjustable stools might be right for you.
Generally, these fall into two types. Firstly, ones that use a central screw to adjust the height, which also gives them a handy swivel function. These can be incredibly stylish, having a bit more of an industrial or utilitarian design.
Secondly, there are those that use a handle underneath to increase the height, a lot like adjustable office chairs. These can feel a bit more luxe if you’re not keen on all things industrial.
As you’d guess, swivel stools allow you to move around. It’s a little thing that can make a huge difference - the effect is a lot less formal than the traditionally immovable dining chairs. Swivel stools are a smart pick if you plan to use them as an office chair, too.