An ottoman is a low, upholstered or wooden footrest or bench that can often be used for storage or as extra seating when necessary. Generally without back or arm rests and with a lot of padding – the ottoman is diverse in its uses, and is often referred to as a blanket box. Coming in many sizes, ottomans can be small; pouffe-like which make great footstools, whilst the larger versions can often be used as boutique-styled seating areas or even a unique coffee table!
The history of the ottoman is an interesting, yet debated topic – the Encyclopaedia Britannica states that they were introduced to Europe in the late 18th Century from Turkey. At the time Turkey was part of the notorious Ottoman Empire… So you can certainly see the connection there! The ottoman started life as a large seating area, so large in fact that it could fit around 3 walls in a room. It was only in later years that the ottoman reduced in size and could fit neatly into a corner… Allegedly the Turkish version was used as family seating and was constantly covered in cushions to provide extra comfort.
Another theory goes back even further – In the 13th Century Turkish people of the Ottoman empire took to covering stools in vibrant, brightly coloured fabrics, yet it wasn’t until early 1800’s Europe that the word ‘ottoman’ was actually used to describe an upholstered stool.
Or could it have come from closer to home? Another theory is that the word ottoman was derived from the French word ‘ottomane.’
-Whatever its origins, the ottomans rise to popularity has been great. They can now be bought in every home store; whether in a shop or online – they’ve certainly come a long way from their exotic beginnings.
The Classic – Simple, box-like ottoman, with a hinged top that can be opened and used as a storage tool. Some may not open at all – these make great stools or even tables (try a wooden classic ottoman for this).
Others also have little legs which add to the boutique feel – allowing you to pick from a whole range of finishes; from dark wood to light. There is always bound to be a leg finish to match your interior style.
The Pouffe – Smaller, more compact version of the classic. Can be storage or a stool, but both are equally useful in small houses or flats where floor space is at a minimum. Why compromise on comfort or style?
The Workbox – Similar to the pouffe, but as a general rule is not padded for comfort and is more for storage than anything else! The Workbox is as versatile as it is handy – this little box will work well in any room in the house.
The Drawers – Developed from the classic, the drawers have all the style of the ottoman but with drawers for storage. Essentially just low chest of drawers, these would look great in a bedroom setting.
As we previously stated, the Ottoman is diverse in its uses – from simply just a storage tool to a cute window seat (Tip: Always make sure that the ottoman you purchase is able to be sat on, otherwise you could end up with a broken ottoman on your hands!) Another great use of an ottoman is as a blanket box, placed at the end of your divan or bed frame, these ottomans will provide ample storage for your quilt covers and extra bed linen. Some ottomans come with drawers (example shown in the fabric ottomans illustrated in the image above) another useful way of adding storage drawers in your bedroom which is both aesthetically pleasing and practical.
Larger, flatter types make ideal coffee tables – just place in the middle of the room and watch the transformation. Less padded versions, with wooden or metal finishes tend to be sturdier and so would make great little side tables in a living area too.
The possibilities are endless with an Ottoman!
The Classic Ottoman
The Classic Ottoman with Legs
The Wooden Classic