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What is an ottoman?

What is an ottoman? - Proline Range Hoods

What is an ottoman? Well, it’s named after an ancient empire back in the day: it’s a super handy piece of furniture useful in many rooms of your home. We’re going to break down what an ottoman is, what their uses are, where they can be placed in your home, and how many different types there are, including the many materials they can be made from.

The ottoman is a multi-purpose piece of furniture. Ottomans can be for storage, seating options, or as a stand-in for a coffee table. Many types of ottomans have storage options, making them great for coffee tables. Smaller ottomans without removable lids are great footrests, too.

What is an ottoman? Square Ottoman

Types of Ottomans

The most useful ottoman is for storage, but it is also strong enough to hold extra things on top, whether it’s coffee mugs, knick knacks, or even a seat for someone. The most common type of ottoman is the storage ottoman. It can have a lid that comes completely off, or a lid on hinges, similar to a chest. Some do not have a lid and are either for replacing a coffee table or meant for seating.

They’re most commonly used for storage purposes, so their best uses are in the family room. Some are also useful in bedrooms for extra storage, basements, or for playrooms.

Furthermore, lots of ottomans supplement couches or lounge chairs and are used as footstool ottomans. They’re most commonly found in family rooms, living rooms, and work offices. The size of the footstool ottoman will depend on the size of the room, and most are square or rectangular shaped.

Leather Chair with Ottoman

Depending on your living situation, you may want a certain shape and material for your ottoman. We’ll go through some of the different types of ottomans below.

The Rectangle

Rectangular ottomans are perhaps the most versatile type of ottoman furniture, mainly because of the surface area they can hold. They come in multiple sizes and they oftentimes are suitable for replacing coffee tables in the family room or for storage options.

Because of their rectangular size, they are more common since their shape makes it easy to flush against a wall or move to a different space in your house.

There are also many types of rectangular ottomans that do not have storage space, and are instead meant for extra seating in a living or family room. They most commonly have a wooden frame and are surrounded by some sort of padding, as well as soft fabric to completely cover it.

Cat lying down on stool

The Circle

Circular ottomans are meant mainly for your family room. They can have either hard or soft tops and can have storage space as well.

Some of these types may be made entirely out of wood, and have space underneath the top. Still, others have no storage space and are meant to replace a coffee table with a unique centerpiece! There are ottomans that are smaller and meant for a footrest or singular seating, but these aren’t as common.

Circular Ottoman in White Living Room

The Square

Finally, some ottomans are square. These are less common, as rectangular options are more favorable for storage and practicality reasons. Smaller squares are more common than bigger squares simply because they can be accommodated better than a larger one. They generally will have a removable lid for storage, but some do not, offering purposes for footrests or a small seat.

Family Room with Several Windows
White Family Room with Couch and Ottoman

Ottoman Ideas For Your Living Room

Check out these pins below for some ideas and inspiration for your living room!

Here’s an interesting setup – there's one large ottoman that appears to have space for storage, and two smaller ottomans that are either footrests or for seating. A two for one!

Another fun setup is this creative piece of furniture! You can pull out parts of it for an afternoon snack or for helping your kids do their homework. Sounds like a good time!

Now here’s a wonderful mixup! This ottoman is made from a unique material, making it more of a decorative piece. It’s a beautiful addition, and you would see something like this in a British colonial design home!

You can also have storage ottomans in your home to store blankets and other items you don’t want out all the time. It is important to remember that if there is a dedicated coffee table, it will likely be difficult to fit in a large ottoman due to limited space.

Check out these ideas below!

Ottoman FAQs

Why do we call it an ottoman?

The ottoman gets its name from the same empire with its name, the Ottoman Empire. They were first brought into Europe from the Ottoman Empire, wish is now present-day Turkey, and were usually padded with cushions and without armrests or backs. There are many styles present today, including large centerpieces to smaller versions meant to be flush against a wall or in a corner.

How do I choose an ottoman?

Find out what you need it for, and then choose from there. Most ottomans are for storage, with some people using them as replacements of coffee tables.

If you’re unsure, you won’t regret getting an ottoman with a removable lid; it’s great for storage!

What can I do with a large ottoman?

You have many options! Larger ottomans often replace coffee tables in the family room. They may have storage options or not, but they will always be available to use for water, tea, and other drinks. Other times, they may be prevalent in bedrooms or play areas and are used strictly for storage options!

Where do you put an ottoman in a living room?

They’re best placed in front of a couch as either a footrest or replacement coffee table. They can also be flush against a wall and used for extra seating.

How tall should my Ottoman be?

It depends on the use! Most are around two feet tall, but it will depend on the use. For example, an ottoman that is replacing a coffee table should be a similar height around two feet.

Should your ottoman match your sofa?

Some ottomans are sold with sofas, but it doesn't need to match your sofa. Smaller ottomans may be used more as accent pieces in your home. Larger ottomans should be a neutral color, or the color of another large piece of furniture to match the walls.

Small Circle Ottomans Next to Couch

Can you sit on an ottoman?

Absolutely! Make sure its weight capacity is rated for someone your size when purchasing before using it as extra furniture.

What can I do with an extra ottoman?

Find a place for it somewhere in your home! If the main room is full of furniture, find a spot for it in your bedroom, home office, or a play area. They will be especially useful if they have storage. Use that to your advantage! Think about using them as a seat and for your feet. This can expand where you consider placing your extra.

Recap of Ottomans

Well, there’s a breakdown of what the ottoman is and its uses. To recap, the most common placement is in a family room, and are best used as either coffee table replacements or supplemental furniture. Generally they’re built of wood, and will have a soft cushion at least on the top so it makes for great seating or a footrest. Lots of times, they will be completely surrounded in padded fabric, and will often accent larger pieces of furniture.

Many alternatives to this common design are available, as well as different materials, such as wicker as we saw already, and wooden designs. Large rectangular or square ottomans are most common since they can be moved or pushed flush against the wall, but circular ottomans can make a beautiful centerpiece!

If you liked this article, check out more of our home design articles below.

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What is an ottoman?

The ottoman is a multi-purpose piece of furniture. Ottomans can be for storage, seating options, or as a stand-in for a coffee table. Many types of ottomans have storage options, making them great for coffee tables. Smaller ottomans without removable lids are great footrests, too.

Why do we call it an ottoman?

The ottoman gets its name from the same empire with its name, the Ottoman Empire. They were first brought into Europe from the Ottoman Empire, wish is now present-day Turkey, and were usually padded with cushions and without armrests or backs. There are many styles present today, including large centerpieces to smaller versions meant to be flush against a wall or in a corner.

How do I choose an ottoman?

Find out what you need it for, and then choose from there. Most ottomans are for storage, with some people using them as replacements of coffee tables.

If you’re unsure, you won’t regret getting an ottoman with a removable lid; it’s great for storage!

What can I do with a large ottoman?

You have many options! Larger ottomans often replace coffee tables in the family room. They may have storage options or not, but they will always be available to use for water, tea, and other drinks. Other times, they may be prevalent in bedrooms or play areas and are used strictly for storage options!

Where do you put an ottoman in a living room?

They’re best placed in front of a couch as either a footrest or replacement coffee table. They can also be flush against a wall and used for extra seating.

How tall should my Ottoman be?

It depends on the use! Most are around two feet tall, but it will depend on the use. For example, an ottoman that is replacing a coffee table should be a similar height around two feet.

Should your ottoman match your sofa?

Some ottomans are sold with sofas, but it doesn't need to match your sofa. Smaller ottomans may be used more as accent pieces in your home. Larger ottomans should be a neutral color, or the color of another large piece of furniture to match the walls.

Can you sit on an ottoman?

Absolutely! Make sure its weight capacity is rated for someone your size when purchasing before using it as extra furniture.

What can I do with an extra ottoman?

Find a place for it somewhere in your home! If the main room is full of furniture, find a spot for it in your bedroom, home office, or a play area. They will be especially useful if they have storage. Use that to your advantage! Think about using them as a seat and for your feet. This can expand where you consider placing your extra.
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