A midcentury modern leather bench helps  frame this living room.

A midcentury modern leather bench helps
frame this living room. (Handout/TNS)

Ottomans are often forgotten items in home decor, but those in the know realize these adaptive, easily movable pieces can pack a small but mighty decor punch – without necessarily costing a bundle.

The beauty of using ottomans is their versatility. Ottomans can help add function to a small or odd-shaped nook, as well as pull double design duty. Often, ottomans take on a dual role in the home, like seating and a coffee table or seating and storage. The cost is also attractive as well, as many can be purchased for $100 or less, depending on the size and material.

Where to use ottomans

Ottomans are a great choice wherever you wish to place portable seating. As they tend to be easily picked up and moved around, there are some basic areas of the home where they may get the most use.

Living rooms and family rooms: These are great places to include ottomans, as these tend to be areas in the home where extra seating is often needed.

Children’s rooms: Ottomans can be used either for traditional seating or as a potential chair for a child to perform tasks that may be lower to the ground, such as doing crafts or putting on shoes.

Entry areas: This is an especially great area to have an ottoman. Consider using either a series of ottomans or a single long bench. Ottomans are great furniture pieces to place a coat or keys on or to tie your shoes before heading out to face the day.

A bench ottoman can function as a chair as well as a table.

A bench ottoman can function as a chair as well as a table. (Handout/TNS)

Types of ottomans

These days, ottomans not only come in different shapes, but in a number of different styles as well.

Tufted ottomans: These tend to be a bit more formal, but can also help to add an element of polish to a space.

Storage ottomans: These are extremely popular, especially inz smaller spaces. They can help to keep your space neat and tidy, concealing extra pillows to throws.

Round ottomans: Not all ottomans are square or rectangle. A round ottoman can help add an unexpected design twist to a space.

Bench ottomans: These tend to work well when someone is looking for an ottoman that acts more as primary rather than secondary seating, or a surface that could potentially take on a dual purpose.


If you plan to use an ottoman in a high traffic area, consider purchasing one in a durable fabric. Good choices include a fabric or material that may be suited for hospitality use such as leather or a high-end vinyl such as Naugahyde.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at [email protected] or visit her website at cathyhobbs.com.