7 Things to Consider When Buying an Ottoman

7 Things to Consider When Buying an Ottoman

When it comes to furniture, ottomans are often underestimated, an afterthought of living room design. However, an ottoman is one type of furniture that can serve a myriad of functions, from looking pretty and adding aesthetic value to being the most comfortable footrest around. Here are 7 things you should consider to ensure you get the perfect ottoman for your living space. 


An ottoman’s basic purpose is to provide a place to rest your feet. After all, what feels more indulgent that putting up your feet after a hard day? But an ottoman can also stand in as an extra seat when needed. Depending on the size, it can also serve as a coffee table. Consider these other uses when choosing one to fit with your living room furniture.

ottoman as coffee table


Ottomans come in a variety of shapes that lend themselves well to different types of furniture. Round, square and rectangular are just the tip of the ottoman iceberg.

round ottoman

A round one is an excellent choice for a sectional because it provides easy access for everyone to share while the soft lines add a plush look to a room. A square ottoman shape will also work with this setup or to complement the hard edges of your sofa, creating a classic feel.

square ottoman

Ottomans have come a long way from the traditional pieces of the past. Today you’ll find them in a variety of unique shapes: asymmetric, curved, honeycomb to name a few. These can elevate a room and function more as a focal point than just an occasional chair. Together with a bold colour or pattern and you have yourself an eye-catching accent piece. 


unique ottomans

You can take advantage of its smaller size to create a statement piece too. It needn’t match the exact pattern of other furniture in your living room. Make it stand out. It’s easy to see how an ottoman can bring a lot more to your decor.

One or More?

rectangular ottoman

Ottomans come in a variety of sizes. A longer rectangular one is a good fit for an L-shaped sectional—as long as there is plenty of room to get around. However, this may be overwhelming for some floor plans. In that case, you can always opt for two or more, depending on your needs.

Having two solves the problem of space. It’ll free up more room than a single rectangular piece. And you can always push them together to create a larger seating area if needed. It’s also a matter of style. One ottoman gives a room a more formal appearance. Two makes it seem more casual. Besides, it’s an excellent solution if the kiddies are fighting over who gets it.

You can also group them in the centre of a sectional to create a makeshift coffee table. You have the benefit of using them as footrests and occasional chairs. And they can take another task if needed.

foot stool ottoman side table

Like a coffee table, you’ll need to have ample room around an ottoman to make them practical. Aim for 30 to 45cm of space between the sofa and the occasional chair. That way you’ll avoid making it feel cramped or cluttered. It should also be at the same height as your seating for optimal comfort.


storage ottoman

Need some extra space? Your ottoman can do double up as storage too. A storage ottoman that opens or features a removable top is a great place to store magazines and remote controls. You can even find pieces with shelves underneath the padded top. These items act more like coffee tables than a mere footrest, making an ottoman the king of multitasking in the living room.


An ottoman in your living room will likely get more use than any other piece of furniture in your home. That means more wear and a heightened risk of spills and stains. If you have kids or pets, acrylic or microfibre are excellent choices for a fabric covering. They’re easy to clean and resistant to stains. They’ll also handle heavy use.

You can choose a piece with a pattern which will hide stains better than a solid colour. And while tufted pieces look ripper, they’ll collect dirt quicker than a flat covering. Another option is to go with leather. 

There’s no beating the elegant look that it’ll bring to a room. And the lines it gets from use only add to its charm. It’s relatively easy to clean too. However, we wouldn’t recommend it in a household with pets. Scratches lead to permanent damage. The same cautions apply to suede which looks equally as luxurious.


You’ll find ottomans in a variety of styles to complement your existing pieces. You can go down the classic traditional route of an ornate piece with intricate woodwork. Or you can opt for a contemporary look with unexpected shapes and patterns. Think fully upholstered cylinders or even triangle-shaped furniture.

It also pays to think about its intended use and check the construction of the ottoman accordingly. Say you’re getting a larger one for multiple people to share or sit. You should then ensure it’s heavy enough to provide enough support without tipping. Favour pieces with four feet and/or a solid base.


Your ottoman doesn’t have to match the colour of your other furniture. You can choose a contrasting hue to offset other pieces instead. 

A great tactic is to get a bold primary colour & set it against a backdrop of white or neutral tint. You can also let the construction of a piece steal the show with less fabric and more of the frame showing. A wooden-frame piece can add a sense of real warmth to your room.

Like other furniture, your choice of colour, style and shape come together to create a signature piece. Feel free to experiment with different combinations to get the look you want. Remember what we said at the start? Never underestimate an ottoman!

An ottoman may be the most versatile piece of furniture you can add to your living room. It can take on a variety of tasks from footrest to coffee table to extra storage. And it offers an opportunity to create something special with a unique accent piece.