Ottoman Buying Guide

An ottoman is more than just a comfy place to rest your feet; it’s an accent piece that can help define a room’s decor. This ottoman buying guide outlines the various features to consider.

Ottomans 101

When you need a place to put your feet up, there’s no better choice than an ottoman. Your basic ottoman is a padded footstool with a wood frame and an attractive upholstery covering, but there are a number of different types with unique styles and extra functions. If you like curling up on the couch, an ottoman with built-in storage for remote controls, books and magazines keeps everything you could want within arm’s reach. An ottoman with open shelving for storing shoes is a great addition to an entryway. Other styles can double as coffee tables, extra seating and even beds. With so many types and options, it’s easy to find an ottoman that looks great and does all the things you want.

Types of Ottomans


Traditional Ottomans

As the name suggests, traditional ottomans focus on the ottoman’s original purpose: providing you with a sturdy footrest. Most traditional ottomans are designed for a single user and can double as a single extra seat, but larger ottomans can provide a footrest for a whole couch or even bench seating. Smaller models can be conveniently tucked away in a corner or closet when not in use. The traditional ottoman either sits flat on the floor or is raised with exposed wood legs and feet, often with intricate detailing. You can choose from leather or durable fabrics to suit any room decor. 

Storage Ottomans

Storage ottomans are comfortable, add style and conceal clutter all at the same time. These ottomans typically have a hinged top that opens to provide access to a convenient storage compartment. Some models have drawers instead of a hinged top. Others have shelves for easy access to stored items. Storage ottomans are great for stowing the things you’d rather not have out in the open, like blankets, pillows, magazines and DVD collections. You can find round, square or rectangular storage ottomans to fit any room decor.

Ottoman Coffee Tables

You don’t have to feel guilty about putting your feet on this coffee table. These ottomans are generally larger than traditional models, but they're still great space savers because they blend two different functions in a single piece of furniture. In most models, the entire top is padded and covered in a material that wipes down easily. Some ottoman coffee tables have removable square-sectioned tops consisting of a combination of trays and pillows. This lets you adapt the ottoman to your needs. In others, the middle section can be used for decorative items, while the outside sections serve as a regular ottoman top. Coffee table ottomans sometimes have storage inside to help reduce clutter while keeping items you use regularly at the ready. 

Pouf Ottomans

The pouf ottoman is a lightweight, legless style that you can use anywhere in your home. This versatile ottoman comes in many shapes and sizes, from round leather poufs to knitted cubes. A few pouf ottomans can instantly make any room more stylish, welcoming and comfortable for you and your guests. They’re especially great in kids' bedrooms and playrooms because of their lightweight construction and bright colours. Kids can take them from room to room to play on the floor in comfort.

Tufted Ottomans

Tufted ottomans are a stylish footrest option that complements traditional decor. The tufting technique reduces unwanted material bunching, resulting in a more durable, long-lasting fabric. The distinctive hills-and-valley contours of tufted fabric also makes the tufted ottoman a natural design focal point or accent piece. Many tufted ottomans feature attractive exposed legs and feet that add to their unique style and strong visual appeal. 

Ottoman Beds

Ottoman beds are the perfect solution for smaller bedrooms and guest rooms that double as dens, offices or play areas. These ottomans come in two different types: foldout and storage beds. Foldout ottomans act like a regular ottoman but can fold out into a bed whenever you need one. Storage bed ottomans provide convenient storage space under the mattress for organizing and stowing blankets, pillows and other items out of sight. They're a great way to keep clutter to a minimum in smaller bedrooms. Ottoman beds can look very different from regular beds, making them perfect for creating a bedroom with a distinctive style.

Ottoman Buying Tips:

  • Ottomans used as footrests should be lower than the seat of the complementing furniture
  • The exception to the above rule is that coffee table ottomans should be four to eight inches higher than the seat of nearby furniture for ease of access
  • Multiple small ottomans can fit well in rooms with unique layouts
  • Some ottomans come in sets where the smaller ones fit inside the larger ones
  • If you plan on using an ottoman as a seat, go for one that’s a little taller so your guests don’t feel like they’re sitting at the kids' table
  • Before shopping, always measure the space where you are putting your ottoman

Ottoman Features

Ottoman Trays +

Some ottomans come with removable trays and cushions that allow you to use your piece as either a footrest or a coffee table, or both at the same time. The trays provide a sturdy surface for drinks, food plates and other items you want to keep within arm’s reach. You can also use the trays to hold decorative items like picture frames and collectables.

Ottoman Drawers +

With drawers, you can keep things you use regularly out of sight but at the ready. Drawers are becoming more popular in ottomans because they’re an easily accessible storage option. They are particularly handy for fragile items that could get damaged in the ottoman’s larger storage space. When safely stowed in a drawer, these items will remain in good shape and be there when you need them.

Ottoman Shelves +

Some ottomans feature open shelves instead of hidden storage, letting you store or display items in plain view. In some models, the shelves serve as shoe racks. These ottomans make great entryway benches as they also give you a place to sit while donning and doffing your shoes. When shopping for ottomans with shelves, think about the weight of the items you intend to store. Shorter shelves made of durable hardwood can hold heavier items, while a lighter material such as composite wood can look great and is generally found at the more affordable end of the price scale.

Legs +

Ottomans with exposed legs tend to complement more traditional decor. The detailing of ottoman legs is often exceptional and helps the piece stand out as a design focal point. When shopping, look for a leg style that matches with the leg styles of nearby furniture. An ottoman with legs can provide a nice contrast in a room with lots of legless furniture. Similarly, a legless ottoman will create visual interest and provide balance in rooms that already have plenty of legged furniture.

Material +

Ottomans are typically constructed of wood and finished in a range of fabric choices. Leather, microfibre, rattan and resin wicker are common covering materials, each with their own benefits. Leather is strong, durable and luxurious, sure to make your ottoman stand out and be noticed. Microfibre is stain resistant and can stand up to the wear and tear of kids and pets. Rattan is a lightweight and durable natural fibre commonly used in making wicker-style outdoor furniture. Resin wicker provides a similar look and resists sun and water damage. Matching the material to existing furniture, especially if the ottoman is a footrest for a particular chair, will help keep style consistent.

Shape +

An ottoman’s shape is an important part of its style and functionality. When considering a particular shape, whether square, rectangular or round, consider how the shape would work in your room and how it would fit with specific furniture. Smaller ottomans, especially traditional ottomans and pouf ottomans, are available in fun shapes to spruce up a room. Larger rectangular ottomans can double as accent tables or coffee tables. Bigger square ottomans are instant design focal points and a practical place for guests to gather during social occasions.

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Ottoman Maintenance Tips:

  • Dust regularly and always use the appropriate cleaners for your ottoman’s fabric
  • Avoid using a rotary brush on upholstered ottomans; instead, use an upholstery vacuum attachment
  • If you spill on an upholstered ottoman, do not scrub or rub with a cloth. Instead, quickly blot the spill with a cloth to lessen the spread and keep the stain from setting into the fabric
  • Do not spot clean leather. If you need to clean a spill off a leather ottoman, use lukewarm water with a mild soap and clean the entire surface
  • Felt pads under the legs can help protect floors and prevent undue wear and tear on the legs themselves
  • For ottomans that are going to be used frequently, consider slipcovers to help your ottomans stay safe and last longer
  • Direct sunlight can cause fading in all types of furniture. Protect your ottomans from the sun to help them keep their colour
  • Never drag rattan ottomans as the wicker can split. Instead, pick it up and gently place it wherever you want it.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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