How To

Ottoman Buying Guide – Ottoman Designs and Uses

Ottoman Buying Guide – Ottoman Designs and Uses

A stunning, multi-functional addition to any living room or bedroom, ottomans come in so many shapes and sizes. They’re the perfect place to rest your feet while you watch TV, but have you thought about adding a storage ottoman to the mix for your blankets and cushions? What about using your ottoman as a coffee table? There’s a whole world out there, with lots to explore.

If a new ottoman is on your radar, you’ll want to brush up on all of the options before you begin the buying process. With the help of our expert Brosa stylists, we’ve put together a go-to guide to buying an ottoman, with all the factors you’ll need to consider, including purpose, shape, size, material, colour and more. Ready to put up your feet?

Determining your ottoman’s purpose

The very first step when you’re deliberating any new piece of furniture is purpose. The role it’ll play in your room is a crucial element that will influence the look and feel of the ottoman you ultimately choose.

A place to rest your feet

Traditionally, an ottoman is used alongside a sofa or armchair as a place to prop up your feet so you’re in more of a lying-down position. A comfy addition to any living room or bedroom, you’ll love being able to stretch out and relax at the end of a long day.

A spot for your beverage and book

It’s a little more off-centre, but ottomans are often used as coffee tables, too! The ottoman coffee table concept provides you with a handy, low place to stash items you need within reach. Just be sure to select a piece that has a flat surface, and be ultra-careful if it’s upholstered in fabric!

A handy storage alternative

If you’ve got lots of items to stow away in your living room or bedroom, or are looking for a storage option with a closable lid, a storage ottoman is a must-have. Simply lift up the seat to reveal ample space for items like blankets, cushion and linens. Then, close it back over and no one will be any the wiser!

A compact and versatile seat

Lastly, a sturdy ottoman is a fantastic investment if you entertain regularly, and are often moving seating around to accommodate your guests. Select something with a strong frame in a reasonable size, and you’ll find it provides a comfortable and easy-to-manoeuvre ‘ottoman bench’ that can be whipped out at parties.

Round, Square, Rectangle or Pill… which shape will you choose?
Round, Square, Rectangle or Pill… which shape will you choose?
Round, Square, Rectangle or Pill… which shape will you choose?
Round, Square, Rectangle or Pill… which shape will you choose?

Selecting a shape

The shape of your ottoman can really influence its ‘point of view’ from a design perspective. Where rounded pieces are whimsical and fun, square and rectangular items are sleeker and cleaner.

Round

A round ottoman is an absolutely timeless piece. Ideal when paired with mid century or new Art Deco stylings, round ottomans provide lots of usable space. They’re also great if you’re looking to break up excessive sharp lines and rigidity in your space. Combined with a chic sofa, a round ottoman will be a conversation piece in every living room.

Square

Square ottomans are all clean lines, which means they’ll slot right into a modern, Scandinavian, or even classic traditional space. Their shape means that ottoman access is evenly distributed when placed against a modular sofa, ensuring optimum practicality.

Rectangular

Finally, a rectangular ottoman is an excellent candidate when it comes to both form and function. This shape is very modern – an ideal choice for a contemporary living room – and cuts a striking figure with sharp lines. If you prefer a softer look, select a rectangular piece with rounded corners. Just like its square sister, a rectangular ottoman will align with the edges of your sofa, ensuring everyone seated has equal access, whether they’re propping up their feet, or a glass of wine.

Considering size

The size of your ottoman will dictate how easy it is to use for your designated purpose, and will also affect the way it’s placed and styled in your living room – so be sure to measure up before clicking add to cart!

If you’re working with a small space, you’ll likely want something on the petite side. Small ottomans come in at around 70-80cm in length, and almost look and function like stools. They’ll still be practical to rest your feet, but yours alone – no sharing with friends, flatmates or partners! They also make a great, albeit compact, drinks tray.

A mid-sized ottoman will be between 80-100cm in length, and is probably the best pick if your room is an average size. You won’t have to compromise on purpose, nor on versatility, with something this size. It should address all of your needs, and of course, look stylish in the process.

Finally, for those of us with tonnes of space to burn, or a big family to accommodate, a large ottoman will be a must. Large pieces can vary from 100cm to 120cm+ depending on their shape. Stretched out with your feet up on one of these babies, you’ll never want to leave the living room.

Your material choice defines the look & feel of your ottoman. Leather adds a little luxury!
Your material choice defines the look & feel of your ottoman. Leather adds a little luxury!
Your material choice defines the look & feel of your ottoman. Leather adds a little luxury!
Your material choice defines the look & feel of your ottoman. Leather adds a little luxury!

Choosing a material

Essential to the look, feel and durability of your ottoman, the material you select is of the utmost importance! We’ll take you through some of the most common fabrics and textures, and explore where they stack up or fall short.

Upholstery

Soft, serene and versatile, an upholstered ottoman in a fabric such as linen, cotton, or our Signature Premium, is always a safe bet. Most of these traditional fabrics are easy to spot clean with soap and water, which will give you peace of mind if you plan to rest food or drinks on your ottoman. They’ve got a dreamy quality about them, especially in pastel or light neutral shades, and would suit an array of living room and bedroom styles.

Velvet

Velvet is a surefire statement-maker, AKA the perfect ottoman fabric if you love a bold choice. A velvet ottoman is a little tougher to clean than its counterparts upholstered in classic fabrics, but with a bit of care, can look good and last for a long while. You’ll want to gently vacuum your velvet ottoman with the hand attachment every week or two, and spot clean very gently with soap and water, ensuring not to rub, but rather blot, the stain. Velvet is a cool, chic pick for a mid century modern or new Art Deco room

Boucle

Fun to say, and very much in the design zeitgeist right now, we can’t get over boucle fabric. This unique material features small loops of thread that create a bobbled, textured look. Typically seen in hues of white and cream, boucle makes for an eye-catching ottoman fabric. It’s a pretty durable material, too – simply spot clean with soap and warm water like you would cotton or Signature Premium upholstery. Boucle is the ultimate style switcher, but particularly suits a modern contemporary or mid century look.

Leather

Add a little luxury into your space with a leather ottoman. Timeless and steeped in old world charm, leather screams elegance in any colour. In terms of cleaning and care, a leather piece can be gently and carefully spot cleaned to remove stains in a similar manner to other fabrics. However, it should also be kept away from direct sunlight to avoid cracking or peeling. Place your new leather ottoman in a classic or modern contemporary living room for a comfy yet classy vibe.

An ottoman is a risk-free piece of furniture to choose in a bright colour to make a statement!
An ottoman is a risk-free piece of furniture to choose in a bright colour to make a statement!
An ottoman is a risk-free piece of furniture to choose in a bright colour to make a statement!
An ottoman is a risk-free piece of furniture to choose in a bright colour to make a statement!

Picking the perfect colour

The colours you choose for your living furniture can have a huge effect on your mood, and on the overall feel of the room, too – so the moral of the story is to choose carefully! Where neutrals are calm and serene, brights have a funky, energetic air, and pastels are soft, sweet and strike a nice balance. Let’s explore a little more…

Neutrals

Neutral ottomans, in shades like beige, white, brown, black or grey, will always be a popular addition to the living room or bedroom – and for good reason! They’ll fit easily into any colour scheme, and are strong yet subtle choices. Where white has a dreamy, chilled-out feel, brown is a little bolder without going too far. A grey ottoman is a staple, too, especially if your style errs on modern or even traditional.

Brights

If your style is whimsical or bold, a bright ottoman will tie the living room together perfectly. Our hues of choice include ocean blue, mustard, sage green, and red, but it’s totally up to you which colour makes the cut. Introduce a bold ottoman into an already-saturated palette, or use it to make a statement against slightly more neutral tones. Hot tip – bright colours look especially good in velvet.

Pastels

Another favourite colour scheme is pastels, an ideal choice for a classic traditional, French provincial or Hamptons room. Take your go-to hue and dial it back to basics with a semblance of colour that’s not too in-your-face. Pale pink ottomans are gorgeous and have a tranquil vibe, whereas a baby blue pick plays on those cool tones in a pared-back way.

Some tips on selecting the right ottoman style for your home.
Some tips on selecting the right ottoman style for your home.
Some tips on selecting the right ottoman style for your home.
Some tips on selecting the right ottoman style for your home.

Settling on a style

Of course, we’d be remiss to wrap up any guide without touching on style – and more importantly, how you can select the right ottoman to reflect your own unique design style in the living room and beyond. These popular ottoman styles and configurations should give you some food for thought.

Tufted ottoman

Upholstered in fabric, the tufted look is created using buttons that pin the fabric down in evenly spaced intervals. This look is elegant and classic, and slots well into classic traditional style. However, with the right fabric (such as a bold velvet) a tufted piece would also feel right at home in a mid century living room.

Smooth top ottoman

A smooth top ottoman is exactly what the name suggests – a simple, unfussy ottoman with a smooth surface perfect for resting drinks, your meal, a favourite book… whatever you’d like, really! Smooth top ottomans come in both flat to the ground versions (like a ‘pouf’), and versions with legs, so it’s up to you what will suit the space best. Because this style is very versatile, it can’t be pinned to one particular aesthetic. Instead, take accents, colour and material into consideration when you’re deciding whether it’s the right fit for your home.

Winged ottoman

The uniquely shaped winged ottoman has a lower base with ‘wings’ that extend upward from either side, making it a fantastic option for resting your feet – they’ll feel positively ensconced in comfort. Packed full of whimsy and flair, a winged ottoman would best suit a mid century space with lots of geometric angles and curves.

Ottoman bench

Finally, an ottoman bench is raised a little further off the ground than a simple smooth top with legs, and acts like a padded multipurpose seat. Usually long and rectangular in shape, this style would look stunning in a living room, and equally as great in a hallway or by the front door. There’s options to suit an array of aesthetics, but you’ll often see this style of piece with French provincial or classic accents like intricate, curved legs.


Whatever style, shape, colour and material you choose, an ottoman is a must-have furniture piece in every living room or bedroom, with unrivalled versatility. When the time comes to buy an ottoman, Brosa is the place to be – explore ottomans in a wide range of styles, colours and fabrics today. Can’t decide? Stop by our Sydney or Melbourne Studio spaces, or get expert advice online with our virtual services.