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The Best Affordable Bar Stools for Looking Like a Rich and Worldly Person

From mid-century Cesca look-alikes to faux-leather chairs, these are the best bar stools for under $500 that would make you feel like a fancy pants.
The Best Affordable Bar Stools
Composite by VICE Staff

Why did no one tell us that affordable and attractive bar stools were so hard to find? As residents of Brooklyn, some members of the Rec Room team (OK, me) have been tasked with finding a pair of counter stools for the obligatory kitchen-island-dining-table hybrid that graces so many of our fine city’s railroad apartments. Unfortunately, finding a pair that doesn’t look as if it rolled out of a cheap Miami show home is easier said than done—the sets I found online either cost upwards of $600, or they just looked cheap and tacky. 

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But if we could find you comfy, affordable, modular sleeper sofas, we knew we could track down some of the best counter stools and bar chairs that don’t just look tolerable, but worthy of a double take and remarks such as is that vintage? or damn, who’s your Breuer vendor? from your guests. We sleuthed through pages upon pages of Amazon and Wayfair furniture to find you mid-century-inspired pieces, chairs with velvet cushions, and height-adjustable bar stools that almost always cost under $500 a set—and often way less. 

So swivel this way, and let’s start shopping. 

The best cane bar stools 

Can’t swing a set of those iconic Cesca chairs? You can still find some rad, affordable cane-back bar stools at AllModern and Homary that will make everyone think you have a Marcel Breuer plug. These sets will instantly add a bit of texture and warmth to any space, and their delicate cane work makes them feel both lived-in and breezy.   


$481.99$366.99 at Homary

$481.99$366.99 at Homary

$380 at AllModern

$380 at AllModern

This teddy fabric set feels very 70s

The rise of bouclé—also known as “teddy” fabric, named after that tufty, soft material you often see on teddy bears—has been everywhere, from Skims loungewear to trending furniture and design aesthetics, because it’s so lowkey-sexy and hella cozy. We’ve yet to see a pair of counter stools that highlights the material, and this height-adjustable set not only provides solid back and arm support, but they look as if they rolled out of a 1970s Italian bachelor pad.


$277.99$195.99 at Wayfair

$277.99$195.99 at Wayfair
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The best faux-leather counter stools

There’s actually a pretty solid selection of bar stools on Amazon, including a few faux-leather chairs with great customer reviews. “Absolutely love these stools!!!” writes one reviewer of this Maison Arts set. “Very easy [to] assemble. It just took me 10 minutes, [and they’re] comfy to sit in.”  


$174.74$139.99 at Amazon

$174.74$139.99 at Amazon

If you’re looking for faux leather that feels a little less early-20th-century literary club, Maison Arts also makes a more minimalist, height-adjustable set. “FEELS GREAT, LOOKS GREAT,” writes one enthused reviewer about the 4.5-star rated swivel chairs. “AND EASY TO ASSEMBLE. CAN YOU ASK FOR MORE???!!!” 


$209.99 at Amazon

$209.99 at Amazon

You’re into mid-century modern

Zesty. Something about this George Oliver swivel stool makes us want a glass of homemade lemonade in a vintage crystal tumbler, because it hits the perfect note between a more versatile, contemporary style and a mid-century modern bar stool. At $195 a pop, it's one of the pricier chairs on our list—but it's also one of the most highly rated and easy to assemble. “Perfect,” writes one reviewer. “Easy to assemble. Did it by myself and I am a little old lady of 77.” Awe. 


$195.99 at Wayfair

$195.99 at Wayfair

You’re rewatching ‘Mad Men’

Googie architecture whisked American aesthetics into a world of futuristic, starburst designs and swooshed angles when it first appeared in the 1950s, and this set of bar stools by Wade Logan pays homage to that playful era. It has a 4.6-star rating on Wayfair, and one of the most unique silhouettes we’ve seen for a bar stool. 


$325.98 at Wayfair

$325.98 at Wayfair
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You’re into Scandi noir

These Homary chairs are so sleek, they’re almost intimidating??? If we were a bar stool, we would have a crush on these bar stools. They’re effortlessly cool with their black velvet cushions, geometric design, and matte finish—just imagine how good they’ll look beside a glass of red wine.  


$336.99$279.99 at Homary

$336.99$279.99 at Homary

Where to find the best vintage bar stools 

We’ve already declared our love for the vintage and secondhand furniture site Kaiyo, because all of its pieces come in pristine condition and include the option of affordable white glove delivery (I’ve never paid more than $50 on a big item order), or easy pickup from the brand’s New Jersey headquarters. You can find sweet deals on modular sofas and eclectic vintage bar stools, such as these mid-century modern pairs.  


$3500$442 at Kaiyo

$3500$442 at Kaiyo

$850$331 at Kaiyo

$850$331 at Kaiyo

Now that your seating situation is squared away, we can sauce-up that bar cart.


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.