How to choose an ottoman

From serving as a footrest to transforming into a secret space for storing things, an ottoman can do much in a room.
Last Updated : 05 July 2024, 21:26 IST

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One of the most underestimated yet important pieces of furniture, which can add colour and functionality to a room, is an ottoman. These little pieces of decor, add comfort to any space, and serve many roles. Here are a few pointers to remember, when purchasing one.


From serving as a footrest to transforming into a secret space for storing things, an ottoman can do much in a room. “Ottomans with removable tops work as a good place for storing books, magazines, kids’ toys, or even remote controls,” says Kamini Deshmukh, an interior design consultant from Delhi. Some pieces even come with shelves under the seating area. “These ottomans can replace a coffee table or side table as other items can be placed on them. Ottomans also work as a unique accent piece in a room’s decor,” she adds.


Ottomans are available in many shapes. Commenting on shapes, Kamini says: “A round ottoman is a classic choice to be placed beside a sectional, as it offers easy access. Square ottomans will fit perfectly when two sofas have been placed together to form a V shape. They will complement the hard edges of your sofa.”

Rectangular ottomans often stand out as a piece and work best as a footrest, as it has more space to rest your feet. “A longer rectangular one works best for an L-shaped sectional as it will look neat, especially if there is room to move around. In a smaller room, opt for two square pieces if needed. These can be moved around to create more space,” shares Ashok Kumar, an interior designer from Ahmedabad.

While using an ottoman, make sure your sofa and other chairs have a gap of 30 to 45 cm between them, so as to avoid a cramped look, he adds.


Compared to other furniture pieces, an ottoman is moved around and touched more. “This means that it is affected more by wear and tear, and spills and stains. If your household has children or pets, an acrylic or microfibre ottoman would be ideal. These are easy to maintain and more resistant to dirt and stains. Alternatively, you can also choose an ottoman with a pattern so that dirt and stains are not noticed easily,” says Ashok. Remember, tufted pieces might look grander but they collect dirt sooner than ottomans with flat coverings. “Leather ottomans are ideal for most themes and will give an elegant look to any colour scheme. They also age well and can be wiped clean easily. Suede also lends a luxurious look. However, it won’t work in a house with pets,” he explains.


You’ll find ottomans in a variety of styles that will complement your existing decor. “For a classic traditional look, opt for a more ornate ottoman with intricate work on its legs. Oval, triangular and free-flowing shape ottomans will add a contemporary look to your room,” adds Kamini. 

If you are purchasing a big ottoman for two or more people to share, make sure its construction is heavy enough so that it does not tip over. Choose pieces that have four feet or a solid base, she adds. A piece with less fabric and more construction (where the frame shows more) will draw attention and can be the focus of a room. While a metal frame ottoman adds a contemporary touch to the room, a wooden-frame piece will emit a sense of warmth, Kamini adds.


The ottoman you buy doesn’t have to match the material or the colour of the room’s other furniture. “In a room with off-white or grey tones, a bright blue or red ottoman will stand out. You can also colour-coordinate the ottoman with your doors and curtain rods, while not following the room’s central theme,” says Kamini. If you want to opt for a classy look, opt for similar colour-toned pieces, Ashok adds. 

Published 05 July 2024, 21:26 IST

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