The Interesting History of Bar Stools – From Stone Age to Modern Kitchens

Let’s talk about a piece of furniture we use daily, but which is often less appreciated than much bulkier pieces of furniture like sofas and dining tables – the bar stool. If you have a kitchen, chances are you own a couple of bar stools as well. After all, there’s no greater pleasure than sitting on a bar stool enjoying a cup of morning coffee, or a cold drink after a long day. While this type of seating is considered a must-have in modern homes, bar stools actually have a very long history. Let’s see how they’ve evolved to become our favourite kitchen element.

The Stone Age

Stools are one of the first forms of furniture ever invented, and over the centuries have proven to be a very practical form of seating, not only in the home, but also in public places like bars and barber shops as well. The first examples of stools date as far back as the stone age. In fact, the invention of seating is closely associated with humans becoming bipedal. By sitting on an elevated surface, early humans tried to take the load off their feet after a long day of hunting. Of course, these early examples of stools were rudimentary, consisting of only three legs and far from resembling my gorgeous black kitchen bar stools.

Symbol of Status

During the Roman Empire, stools became reserved for children, servants, and common folk, while the elite used a different kind of seating – the chair. In that time, chairs were a symbol of status – the more extravagant the design, the higher your status in society. And naturally, the throne was the most powerful chair of all. This tradition of stools being reserved for the commoners while chairs for the aristocracy continued up until the 1800s.

The Industrial Revolution

All of that changed during The Industrial Revolution when chairs became widely accessible to the public. This caused stools to become a less desirable form of seating in the average home. However, nobody could deny their practical purpose so they still remained around, mostly as part of doctors’ offices, barbershops, and cobblers’ workshops.

The Bar + the Stool

As the Industrial Revolution caused a major change in society, more and more people could afford to visit places like bars, taverns, or saloons. So, owners needed to find an innovative way to be able to fit more people. Thus, they discovered adding stools to be the most practical solution. But not just normal stools, but stools that were precisely suitable for the height of the serving counter. The idea was to serve a maximum amount of people in the shortest possible time. And so, the bar stool was born – a piece of furniture that soon became a staple of restaurants, cafes and other hospitality places all over the world.

A Must-have Kitchen Element

In the 50s and 60s bar stools really took off and could be found in every size, colour and shape imaginable, which made them very attractive for homeowners. These days, as people try to maximise space by opting for open plan living, bar stools have become an increasingly popular kitchen element. Whether modern or traditional, colourful or black kitchen bar stools are a very functional form of seating. You can tuck them neatly under the counter when not in use, or you can move them over to the living room when you’re having friends over to watch a game and all the sofa spots are reserved.