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Updated July 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best ottomans

An ottoman is a versatile piece of furniture that combines style, comfort, and functionality. Its main use is as a comfortable spot for your feet when sitting in a chair. An ottoman turns an armchair or sofa into a lounger and relieves pressure on the legs. It also can be used as standalone furniture to add seating for guests or, with a tray on top, as a coffee table. Some ottomans can be used for storage to keep things like blankets, toys, and remotes hidden yet easily accessible.

Ottomans come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. Some are included with and match other furniture, such as a sofa. Others have a style that stands out but blends well with a room’s décor. Some are made of weather-resistant materials for outdoor use to add comfort to patio seating.

If you’re looking for a useful, convenient ottoman for your home, a good buying guide and recommendations can help narrow your choices.

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Ottomans are also known as poufs, footstools, and tuffets.

How to buy the best ottoman

Why buy an ottoman?

An ottoman is a useful addition to any room because it serves several functions.

Footrest: Probably its most familiar use is as a footrest in front of an easy chair or sofa.

Storage: It helps you keep a room tidy by providing a place to store toys and other items. Ottomans used for storage have a top that opens. Some lids come off completely, while others are hinged. They may even have extra storage compartments inside.

Extra seating: It can also be used as an additional seat for guests. Ottomans come in different lengths to offer seating for about 1 to 4 people.

Movable seating: An ottoman is easier to move around than an upholstered chair or sofa, so it can be moved to different rooms as needed. Some roll on wheels for less strenuous moving.

Location

You can place an ottoman almost anywhere. The most common location is in front of an armchair or sofa in a living room. You can use one in place of a coffee table in front of a sofa. Add a hard surface on top, such as a tray, and you turn it into a coffee table. If you already have a coffee table, the ottoman can be positioned to the side of the sofa and moved if it’s needed as extra seating or a footrest.

Storage ottomans can be placed anywhere as well, including in front of a sofa, against a wall, or in a corner. These work well in a playroom, rec room, or living room for kids' toys. Storage ottomans look stylish and are easily accessible at the foot of a bed in a bedroom or guest room for hiding pillows, blankets, and linens. You can use an ottoman as vanity seating in a bathroom or walk-in closet.

If you have a patio, you can use an ottoman to add a cozy living room feel to your outdoor furniture. However, make sure it’s made of weather-resistant materials before leaving it outside, and consider how easily it can be cleaned.

How many ottomans do I need?

Depending on the size of the space and the furniture, too many ottomans can overwhelm a room and make it look cluttered. An abundance of ottomans can also make it harder for you to walk around your larger furniture. Two small ottomans can be placed in front of or on either side of a sofa. If the ottoman is large, one should be enough. In other areas of the house, such as a playroom or bedroom, you might want two ottomans, especially if you plan to use them for storage.

Some ottomans have legs while others simply rest on the floor.

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Features to look for in ottomans

Materials

Ottomans come in many different materials and styles. Most are made of wood with either fabric, leather, or faux leather upholstery with a cushioned filling. Outdoor ottomans tend to be made of treated wood, metal, or wicker that can stand up to UV rays and moisture. Any cushions usually have a sturdy polyester cover that is removable for cleaning.

Shape

Most ottomans are square, round, or rectangular, but you can find some in other shapes. Using a round ottoman adds variety in a room where most of the seating is square or rectangular. Square or rectangular ottomans fit better in some spaces, such as against a wall or in the corner of the room.

Size

Ottomans range from 1 to 6 feet long. The size of the ottoman you buy depends on its purpose. For elevating the feet in front of a sofa or chair, it should complement the size of the seat. For example, in front of an armchair, the ottoman can be the same width or narrower than the chair. An ottoman in front of a sofa should have room for two or more people to put up their feet at the same time.

For storage, an ottoman should be compact enough to fit in its designated space but spacious enough to store the items you intend to place in it. Long, narrow ottomans work well against a wall, and larger, square ottomans can go in a corner or in front of other furniture.

Ottomans used for extra seating can be smaller and should be able to accommodate at least one person. Smaller ottomans are easy to keep in a closet or other storage area when not in use.

Special designs

Rocker: Some ottomans that come with rocking chairs or gliders move forward and backward with the chair. These are great for nurseries.

Swivel: Some ottomans swivel, especially those used primarily for seating.

Wheeled: Some ottomans have wheels so they can be rolled around easily in a room or from room to room.

Collapsible: Some fold flat for easy storage. These ottomans feature a removable bottom panel on the inside and folding sides. Others are designed more like folding tables and the legs fold closed. Many folding ottomans have handles on the sides for carrying.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Ottomans originated in the Ottoman Empire, which peaked in the sixteenth century.
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Accessories for an ottoman

Throw pillows

Ottomans positioned against a wall for seating or storage can be enhanced with throw pillows of different sizes to add back support and cozy style to a room.

Tray

An ottoman in front of a sofa can also serve as a coffee table. Place a tray on top for a more stable and water-resistant surface that can also be removed as needed. The tray can hold plants, coasters, books, candles, and more.

How much do ottomans cost?

Inexpensive

These ottomans range from $30 to $50. They are smaller, seating one person, and made of wood covered in faux leather or fabric. Many collapsible models fall in this price range.

Mid-range

These ottomans cost from $50 to $200. These include more ornate designs and storage ottomans with hinged lids. They are also made of sturdier woods and stylish but durable materials like jute, wicker, and polyester. You’ll find many outdoor models in this price range.

Expensive

Expensive ottomans cost more than $200 and include a wide variety of styles and those upholstered in pricier materials like velvet or genuine leather. Larger ottomans that offer more storage and seating for two or more people fall in this range too.

A unique ottoman makes a great statement piece even if it doesn’t match the rest of the room’s décor.

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Tips

  • Choose an ottoman with a hinged lid for toy storage. A lid that opens easily and stays open is safer for kids and offers easier access to toys. It also means you don’t need to find a place to store the lid when the ottoman is open.
  • Choose removable cushion covers for outdoor use. An ottoman used outside is more vulnerable to dust and dirt. A removable cover is easy to remove and spot clean or put in the washing machine.
  • Choose a storage ottoman to help keep a room tidy. This piece of furniture can hold throws, books, remote controls, game consoles, kids’ toys, and much more to help keep a living room uncluttered.
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Ottomans have a wide variety of textures, from firm to pillowy soft.

FAQ

Q. How tall should an ottoman be?

A. It should be the same height or an inch or two shorter than the height of the seat near it.

Q. How far should an ottoman be from a sofa or chair?

A. Used as a footrest, it should be about a foot from the chair. This makes it easy to put up your feet and offers some space to put your feet down in front of you.

Q. Can I fix a flattened ottoman?

A. A soft ottoman can compress and lose its structure over time. Hitting the top or removing and shaking out the cushion helps to fluff it up and even out the filling. You can even add extra filling to plump a pouf back up. Online videos show you how.

 

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