Must ottomans match?

Ahh, ottomans. They’re cute, functional, and make your space feel cosy and complete. But, how do you select one if you’ve already got a room full of furniture set up? It’s a common misconception that ottomans have to match your armchairs or sofa in a perfect set, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As long as you follow a few simple tenets of interior styling, you can pair almost any ottoman and chairs together. Here are our seven tips for matching an ottoman to your existing furniture.

Match chair height

The idea behind an ottoman is relaxing in total comfort with your feet propped up, so it’s firstly important that its height is conducive to doing so with your existing chairs. If the ottoman is too high for your armchair or sofa, your legs will be at an awkward, uncomfortable angle – AKA the exact opposite of what you’re after! To find the perfect height, measure how far off the ground your chair is from floor to the top of the cushion, then select your ottoman accordingly.

Some people, especially those with knee problems, might prefer an ottoman that’s a few inches shorter than their chair height, as this allows them to bend their knees. If that’s the case, it may be worth testing out your ideal ottoman height by using cushions, boxes or a combination of both in a simple simulation. Voila – your ottoman’s height, sorted.

Consider style above all

Brosa Frank Ottoman styled in Mid Century Modern living room

Frank Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

Unless you’re fussy about matching pieces – which there’s absolutely nothing wrong with – then most ottomans and chairs can be paired together, within reason. The main consideration here is the style of your furniture pieces, as the goal is to create a cohesive and harmonious space rather than something mismatched and distracting. Choose items from the same overall design ‘family’ and concept.

For instance, if you’ve kitted out your space with traditional items, featuring ornate details, curved legs and patterned upholstery, a mid-century modern velvet ottoman in a graphic shape isn’t going to pair well. Keep the main features of your style – including shapes, colours and detailing – in mind when selecting your piece and you’ll be golden on the matching front.

Choose the same scale

Another thing to keep in mind when selecting an ottoman is scale! The relative size of your new piece compared to existing items in the space will make or break the overall feel of the room. If you live in an apartment with space-saving furniture, your ottoman should fall in line – just as it should if you’re lounging on huge couches in a farmhouse or big family home.

Placing an oversized ottoman with a smaller chair creates dysfunction and upsets the balance of your living furniture, and the same applies in reverse – a huge ottoman with a smaller chair will look out of place and affect the functionality of the room. Pair oversized items with other oversized items and smaller pieces with smaller pieces to ensure the room feels harmonious and that all furniture pieces serve their purpose.

Mix shapes for visual interest

Brosa Marken Small Round Ottoman styled in Classic Traditional living room

Marken Small Round Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

If you purchase a matching chair and ottoman, it’s likely they’ll be the same shape. However, selecting these pieces individually means you can actually mix and match different shapes, creating excitement and visual interest in the room in a way that’s still complementary.

Pair a circular ottoman with a square chair, or vice versa, to add texture to a space. As long as you’re working with the right height and style across both pieces, shape is an area where you can switch things up to your heart’s content. This applies to sofas, too – if you’re working with a squared-off sofa, a round ottoman is a nice way to diversify a bit.

Show some leg

When it comes to your furnishings, don’t be scared to flash a little leg! Although it’s not imperative to purchase an ottoman with legs just because your chair has them, this can create a nice touch and give the space some additional cohesion.

If you’re already matching styles, it’s likely your furniture legs will be complementary (e.g., a modern armchair and ottoman will ideally both have square legs, rather than ornate, curved legs). When it comes to material and colour, this is another opportunity for a link between your pieces. If your sofa has straight, metal legs in silver, see if you can find an ottoman with a similar feel – or, opt for something flat to the ground to avoid conflicting styles.

Colour and fabric combinations

Lena Square Ottoman styled in Modern Contemporary living room

Lena Square Ottoman | Shop all ottomans

Where chair and ottoman sets will almost always be in the same colour and pattern, purchasing these separately means you need to select complementary styles, but it’s not imperative that they’re identical. Keep in mind the basic rules of colour theory as well as the existing schemes in your space, and then choose your pieces accordingly!

Matching a brown chair and a neon green ottoman might make a statement, but probably not the right one – instead, if you’ve got a chocolate armchair, opt for an ottoman in the same colour, or something compatible like cream, white or tan. Play with tones and shades of the same hue, or colours that are known to work well together, and your room’s harmony is sure to be safe.

Unifying textures

Create unity between pieces in your space through different, yet stylistically complementary, textures. This is another way to tie items that aren’t designed as a set together – so if you’re using the same colour across items, perhaps your textures can vary, or vice versa.

Lean into a coastal luxe feel with an ottoman upholstered in a soft cotton, paired with an on-trend linen sofa or armchair. If you’re into mid-century modern, perhaps a velvet ottoman will pair well with your existing chairs, or if traditional style is your thing, opt for a tweed or tufted ottoman.

Time to design!

With these tips in mind, it’s decided – there’s absolutely no need to purchase an ottoman and chair in a matching set, unless this is what you want. As long as you play by a few simple rules of design and styling, it’s easy to match almost any armchair or sofa with your new ottoman. Go with the flow, but keep things coordinating and you’ll be ready to kick back, relax and put your feet up on your new pieces.

Shop Brosa's huge range of ottomans, armchairs and sofas, whether you're all about matching pieces or prefer to coordinate in your own way. Access virtual styling services, Australia-wide shipping and View at Home, Brosa's AR tool that allows you to picture your new piece in your space.