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Is An Ottoman Right For Me?

by Nick, Digital Specialist | August 9, 2021

An ottoman can serve as a great accent piece in your living room, and also have some practical uses as well. But there are some cons that need to be considered. Is an ottoman right for you?


An ottoman (or hassock, if you’re significantly older than the author) can be a great addition to your living room decor. An ottoman is an upholstered piece of furniture that doesn’t have a back or arms, and is meant primarily for putting your feet up. It’s usually flat on the top, though sometimes it might have the little buttons on top (that’s called tufting). Originating during the Ottoman Empire in the 18th Century (hence the name), they are available in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes. There are pros and cons to having an ottoman in your living room, depending on the other furniture in your room and how you’re planning on using the space.

Pros
  - Extra Seating: Because they’re covered in fabric and usually padded, ottomans can be used as an extra seat while you’re entertaining. They’re especially perfect for a kid to sit down...especially since they tend not to sit for long!

  - Shape and Size: Ottomans can be ordered in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you should be able to find one that fits your space well. Make sure to get one that’s proportional to your space (not too big, not too small). In addition, a round ottoman can sometimes be easier to navigate than a square or a rectangular one.

  - Functionality: Ottomans can be used for much more than putting your feet up! Some ottomans offer hidden storage, which is great for extra pillows and blankets, or for things you don’t use like those extra remote controls. Ottomans can also double as a workstation for your laptop or tablet, and can also be used to put down your drinks and snacks during the game. Just make sure you use a tray or some other flat surface before putting your drink down!

  - Style: An ottoman with a fabulous accent fabric can be the perfect piece to tie together a space. You could have the ottoman custom-made in the same fabric as your toss pillows, or get it in a completely different fabric for another pop of color or texture. If you have a fabric sofa and loveseat, you could consider getting a leather ottoman to change up the texture, or vice-versa.

  - Comfort: Because of their function, ottomans can give a warm, comfortable feeling to your living room, making it look inviting and encouraging your guests to sit down and get comfortable. However, on the flip side, if you’re decorating a formal living room where it would be inappropriate to put your feet up, an ottoman might not be the right choice.

Cons
  - Reclining Furniture: If your living room furniture has recliners, ottomans can just get in the way. They can prevent your recliner from extending all the way, or can get nudged out of place if the recliner is pushed all the way out. You could consider an ottoman with casters or wheels, but you’ll have to remember to roll them back into place when you’re done.

  - Traffic Flow: Size and placement of your new ottoman can affect the flow of traffic in your room, especially if it isn’t the correct size for the room. Imagine trying to tip-toe around an ottoman that’s too big, or looking at some laughably small ottoman that’s too small for the space. Make sure to consider where the ottoman will go- both when you’re using it, and when you aren’t- so the flow of traffic in your room isn’t affected.

  - Flat Surface: Because they’re cushioned to support your feet when you put them up, the top of an ottoman generally isn’t flat, making it less than ideal for putting down your drinks or your bowl of popcorn. This issue can be solved somewhat by a tray (you may want to consider a cocktail ottoman which comes with trays), but even a tray may not sit exactly flat on the top of the ottoman. If you’re going to using your living room for hosting parties or for lots of hanging out/movie watching, a cocktail table might be a better choice.