7 Things to Consider When Buying an Ottoman

Brosa Alexa Large Round Ottoman styled in new Art Deco living room

Alexa Large Round Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

When it comes to furniture, ottomans are often underestimated - an afterthought of living room design, if you will. But, don’t count these cute little guys out just yet! An ottoman can serve myriad functions, from looking pretty and building on your existing style to being the most comfortable footrest around!

Want to add an ottoman to your space? Here are seven things to consider before you buy.

1. Function

The basic purpose of an ottoman is to provide a place to rest your feet. After all, is there anything more indulgent than putting your feet up after a hard day, as you relax and unwind? However, there’s tonnes more to an ottoman than may first meet the eye.

For instance, an ottoman is a great additional seat if you frequently entertain, or for those working with a small living room. The best part is, they can be discreetly tucked away under other pieces of furniture or in the corner of a room, ready for you to whip out when the time comes. They can also serve a bunch of other purposes in the room, depending on what kind of lifestyle you lead and the family you have – we’ll touch on these a little more later.

2. Shapes

Next up, assess the shape of your ottoman. These versatile pieces come in a variety of shapes that lend themselves to different styles and complementary furniture pieces. Round, square and rectangular are some of the most popular – but these are just the tip of the ottoman iceberg.

A round ottoman is an excellent choice to pair with a sectional sofa, as it provides easy and equal access to everyone that’s seated. They also add a soft, plush look to the room, so they’re a great pick if you love a cosy home or enjoy Hygge design elements.

Brosa Lena Square Ottoman styled in Scandinavian living room

Lena Square Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

A square ottoman also suits a modular sofa, and perhaps is even more functional as each edge will align with the sofa’s lines. This means that everyone can chill out and enjoy the ottoman as a place to put their feet, or perhaps even – depending on the style and surface of the ottoman – rest their drink or other items.

Of course, ottomans have come a long way from the traditional pieces of the past that they once were. You’ll find them in a variety of unique shapes, including asymmetric, curved and honeycomb. Whatever shape you choose, though, one thing’s for sure – ottomans elevate a room, add visual interest and serve as a great accent piece.

3. Size, number and position

Consider the size of your ottoman, and additionally, whether your space could benefit from more than one. After all, there are no rules - your living room is yours to design as you see fit! You might benefit from one larger ottoman, especially with an L-shaped sectional sofa. Just ensure that there’s enough space for everyone to comfortably navigate the surrounding area.

If you’re dealing with a little less space, or perhaps need some more flexibility, why not try out two (or more!) ottomans in your living room? Adding more ottomans ensures you can move these pieces around to your heart’s content, and also creates lots of seating options for entertaining, dining and relaxing. Having two ottomans also solves the space problem, as they’ll free up more room than a single, larger piece. You can always push them together to create more seating or a big surface, too!

4. Additional purposes 

We’ve discussed the primary functions of an ottoman, but there are also ways to really milk this versatile furniture piece and use it to your advantage. After all, it’s essentially a flat, wide surface at knee height or lower, so as well as providing a seating option, the ottoman’s got a few other tricks up its sleeve.

Consider using your ottoman as an additional surface in the room. Depending on its design, an ottoman can serve as a coffee table of sorts, whether you’re entertaining or working with a very cramped space that doesn’t allow for many pieces. Place the ottoman in front of your sofas as you would a regular coffee table, then simply grab your book, your coffee and the TV remotes. As long as it’s not heavily ridged (e.g. an ottoman with tufting) and isn’t made from a material that’s a complete no-no to rest on or, imagining a worst-case scenario, spill on, then your ottoman should act as a pretty nifty makeshift coffee table if you need it to.

Like a coffee table, you’ll just have to ensure that there’s ample room around your ottoman to ensure practicality. This doesn’t just apply to using it in place of a surface, but at any time. Aim for 30-45cm of space between the sofa and your ottoman to avoid a cramped, cluttered feeling.

Brosa Megan Storage Ottoman styled in new Art Deco bedroom

Megan Storage Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

Another functionality of some ottomans is storage. There are larger options with flip-up or removable lids that allow for items to be stored in the ‘drum’ of the ottoman, creating a practical spot for you to hoard blankets, cushions and all of the other things that make your living room even comfier. Or, use it for whatever you’d like… may we suggest wine?

Of course, ottomans aren't just limited to the living room, especially when you're working with a piece that's got built-in storage. Try one in your bedroom, placed at the foot of the bed, as a way to store extra bedding and blankets, and to sit when getting ready for the day. 

5. Materials

Your ottoman is bound to be a smash hit, whatever you and your household use it for – it’s pretty likely that this piece will get more use than anything else in your home! However, that also means it’ll be more susceptible to visible wear and tear, will be at a heightened risk of spills and stains, and overall, will require more care to upkeep its original state.

For those with a rough and tumble kind of household, full of kids or pets (or both!), then it’s best to prevent against wear and tear preemptively. Opt for an acrylic or microfibre covering, as these are easy to clean and stain-resistant, perfect for heavier use and messy family members. Patterned pieces also hide stains more effectively than plain colours.

If this doesn’t sound like your household, then you’ll have a bigger selection of materials available to you. Velvet is very common for ottomans, and looks stunning - just keep it clean as best you can, and if you’re still a little worried about stains, go for a darker colour like emerald green or royal blue.

Brosa Alexa Large Leather Round Ottoman styled in mid century modern living room

Alexa Large Leather Round Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

Leather is another much-loved choice for an ottoman. It’ll add elegant flair or rustic charm to a room, depending on whatever styling you’re currently working with. Leather is also relatively stain-resistant if you catch the culprit early, so keep a packet of wipes on hand to ensure spills don’t create permanent damage. However, if you’ve got pets, leather is a complete no-go. Leather is expensive, and there’d be nothing worse than having your gorgeous new piece destroyed by little claws or over-eager paws.

6. Style

Now that you’ve nutted out the purpose of your ottoman, how you’ll use it and it’s material, let’s talk aesthetics a bit more. What about style?

Ottomans are versatile pieces, as we’ve mentioned, so it’s no wonder they can be suited to a range of different interior styles, from mid-century modern to traditional to Scandinavian simplicity. The biggest things that will dictate the overall style of your piece are the lines, any accents (e.g. tufting) and its shape.

If your taste errs on the side of modern, you’ll want to keep the lines of your new ottoman clean and sleek, opting for something rectangular or circular with no frills or embellishments. Consider something that sits flat to the floor or has a unique base made out of metal or wood.

Brosa Frank Ottoman styled in modern contemporary living room

Frank Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

Let’s say classic is more your bag – ottomans suit this style perfectly, too. Find something that’s got interesting visual elements like tufting, curved legs and studs that fits in with the other, larger pieces in your room. Shape plays a lesser role here, however you’ll find classic pieces are often rectangular.

Of course, these are just two of many interior design styles that you might want to play around with! When selecting an ottoman, just be sure to consider the visual elements that make up your existing style, and try to find a piece that complements or slots in with the rest of your furniture.

7. Colour

Finally, let’s chat colour – an element not to be overlooked! While your ottoman doesn’t have to match the colour of your other furniture pieces, it should be complementary and tie into the overall feel of the room. So, if you’re working with a totally neutral, Scandinavian or coastal-influenced room, a hot pink ottoman might not be the right choice… get it?

Either tie your ottoman’s colour directly into another piece by selecting the same colour or a varying shade or tone, or, if you want a more unique take, pick something contrasting using the colour wheel. The colour you select will also be affected by the room as it stands pre-ottoman – do you want your new piece to stand out, or effortlessly slide in?

Don’t forget, there’s always the option of bringing in more colours using a patterned piece, or by tying your choice back to the rest of the room with wooden legs in a hue that’s already threaded throughout the space.

Brosa Marken Small Round Ottoman styled in classic traditional living room

Marken Small Round Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

Like any other piece of furniture, your choice of colour, style and shape will eventually come together to form your dream ottoman! Don’t forget to consider function and practicality throughout this process, though, relating every decision you make back to the purpose of the piece and the frequency with which you’ll use it.

Never underestimate an ottoman, perhaps the most versatile piece of furniture, and a total living room must-have! If you don’t yet have an ottoman in your space, now’s the time. Shop Brosa’s wide range of furniture, including gorgeous ottomans in a variety of colours and materials, with Australia-wide shipping. We offer flexible payment options and virtual styling services designed to make your selection process a breeze.