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Seventeen Ways to Decorate With Ottomans

Genoa Cocktail Ottoman

Once relegated to a staid existence as accompaniment to a matching chair, ottomans have over the last several years broken free and become an integral decorating piece in their own right.

They have gotten a life of their own and are insisting to be used in all sorts of creative, unique, and interesting ways. Interior designers and decorators throughout the land are hearing the call and bringing new life to the homes of their clients with ingenious uses for this time-tested piece. Here are sixteen to encourage your own decorative renaissance.

1. To add color

An ottoman adds color to a room
(image via homestratosphere.com)

This can work very well regardless of your color scheme or the color of the ottoman. Of course, you don’t want a garish contrast, so pick colors that pair nicely. But an ottoman can be an excellent way of adding a pop of color to an otherwise subdued room (or reinforce color already present). Carrington Court’s delicious color options include this, this, and this.

2. To create contrast

Ottoman used for contrasting other colors
(image via houzz.com)

Alternatively, if your room tends toward one color, an ottoman can be useful for providing contrast. Notice how this room is largely creams and light browns, with a lovely contrasting note from the warm red of the ottoman. (In this case, the red theme is picked up in the throw pillows, but the red is still a strong contrast to the beige of the floor, walls, and most of the furniture.)

3. As a side table

Ottoman used as a side table
(image via houzz.com)

This is becoming a popular option. Ottomans can be paired at either end, to provide a unifying and anchoring note, or can be left as a stand-alone, which can draw the eye nicely on its own. This example also melds beautifully with the couch and area rug.

4. As an under-table filler

Ottomans filling space under a table
(image via houzz.com)

Do you have a table that just…needs something? Try ottomans, either singly or in a pair. All of the things you’ll read about in this article will work brilliantly simply by stowing an attractive ottoman beneath a table, in addition to adding a sense of warmth, coziness, and fullness to any room.

5. End-of-bed bench

Ottoman used as a bench at the end of a bed
(image via garden-home.org)

Longer ottomans work beautifully to add color, class, and extra seating to a bedroom. The versatility in terms of matching and contrasting patterns, textures, colors, and accents (think the wood or metal of the legs) will be an enriching aspect to any décor. This one is an example of how to pair complementary shades and fabrics.

6. As a vanity chair

Ottoman used as a vanity chair
(image via pier1.com)

Instead of using a traditional straight-back or overstuffed chair in front of your vanity, why not use an ottoman? Besides saving on space (since most can be simply tucked away under the vanity), they provide a fun, flouncy look that can at the same time be regal and classy. This is a perfect vanity chair ottoman from Carrington Court.

7. As table seating

Pair of ottomans used as chairs at a dining table
(image via bjdhausdesign.blogspot.com)

It’s not just for benches anymore! A well-appointed ottoman (or a set, like here) can offer much-needed comfort and beauty to a breakfast room, dining room, or kitchen. It’s best if the ottomans anchor or otherwise tie-in with the surrounding color scheme. This provides stability and unity as well as comfort.

8. To provide pattern

Ottoman with a geometric fabric to add a pop to neutral colors
(image via decoist.com)

A little pattern can bring life and flavor to your room’s decor, and with the many different prints and fabrics available in ottoman form, a versatile and attractive conversation piece can be a few clicks away. The example above combines a robust geometric shape with a stark black that provides an appealing counterpoint to the neutrals and a continuation of the coffees and blacks. Here is a delightful, similar pattern from Carrington Court.

9. As a focal point

An ottaman used as the focal point of a room
(image via makipera.com)

A focal point can be virtually any part of a room, but it is often the central piece of furniture because that is the easiest to anchor and to which to draw the eye. Here, a luxurious suede ottoman functions as both coffee table and central focus, and complements the themes of neutral, silver, and grey found throughout. A larger circular piece, like this one from Carrington Court, would function equally well as a focal point.

10. As tuck-away seating

Ottomans hiden away to be used as extra seating
(image via calicocorners.com)

This is a neat parallel to number four, but deserves its own entry. Here the emphasis is on function as well as visual appeal. Smaller rooms and apartments can especially benefit from this idea, as it’s a creative and thoughtful way to introduce color and function to your space. Just remember to actually use them! (Notice that this example does a good job of providing both appealing contrast to the dark wood of the table and floor, while also complementing the bright colors of the couch, screen, and bookshelf.)

11. For storage

Storage ottoman makes the most out of a small space
(image via garden-home.org)

More and more ottomans are doubling as storage options. Besides being clever and useful, it can be a great way to easily store and access seasonal accents (think throws for fall and winter, centerpieces, and other items), board games, and other little incidentals. Notice also that this ottoman logically doubles as a coffee table. Depending on room size and breadth of available functionality, it may be prudent to go with this kind of versatile piece in your room.

12. As the traditional footrest

An ottoman used in the most classic sense--as a footrest
(image via mattaliano.com)

Why mess with tradition? A classic never dies. Cliches aside, a nicely-matching armchair and ottoman can be the pinnacle of an inviting, warm, and comforting room. This example retains a cozy feel while being very high-end and aesthetically appealing. If using an ottoman as a traditional footrest, you can either use a matching one, as here, or choose a nicely-contrasting pattern or fabric to add color or style to the room.

13. For shared-space seating

A pair of ottomans used as a flexible seating option
(image via homestratosphere.com)

As more houses turn to the great room option, it can be extremely important to have seating that (1) is easily moveable and (2) works well in each section (which admittedly ought to have a unifying scheme or theme, since they technically are just sections of a larger single room). Notice how these ottomans not only function as table seating, but have a color scheme and texture that continues themes in the entire space.

14. As a bookshelf

A storage ottoman used as a bookshelf
(image via polyvore.com)

A fun twist on the “ottoman-as-storage” idea, it’s become common for them to have shelving beneath to hold magazines, baskets, or coffee-table books. This is important, as in this example we see an attractive and winsome collection of books that are not merely literary fodder but actually make their own contribution to the total look of the room. Moreover, this allows for additional space and organization, an essential for smaller rooms.

15. Coffee table

An upholstered ottoman used as a coffee table
(image via myhomeideas.com)

So common as to be almost stereotypical, yet it endures because it works. A good coffee-table ottoman will be functional as well as lovely, and ideally should be made of durable material that can be washed (in case one wishes to actually use it as a coffee-table, instead of merely a pretty focal point that no one can ever touch with liquids!). Also note how the second ottoman adds both a contrast as well as a complement to the rest of the room.

16. Free-floater

An ottoman used as a floating piece of furniture
(image via hawthornelanedesign.com)

This room does several things well. First, it is monochromatic (almost looks like it’s made of vanilla ice cream no?) without being overwhelming or stark. It achieves an inviting, comforting feel. Second, it uses ottomans as proud, stand-alone pieces that bear their own weight and contribute something on their own to the room, not in relation to other pieces or strict function. These ottomans are also balancing points to the room, which communicates equity, order, and stability. (This color offered by Carrington Court would go beautifully in this room.)

17. As a painted accent

Ottaman with a stripe added with fabric paint
(image via powerofpaint.net)

Fabric painting isn't just for T-shirts and school projects! A nice canvas or other paintable fabric can immediately be spruced up on almost endless ways. Besides complementing the entire decor nicely (i.e., the monochromatic white), it ties in with its wingback partner by sharing the same cool painted stripe. Moreover, the nice thing about painting an ottoman is it allows both for personal creativity and a deeply personal touch, instead of relying on a mass-produced (if beautiful!) find from a store.

Conclusion

Ottomans are quickly becoming a classic room staple, but who knew there were this many ways to use them? Adding color, highlighting a pattern, incorporating balance, presenting a touch of contrast and unity at the same time, and of course being functional, attractive and simply comfortable—these ways and many others demonstrate the new life, appeal, and fun that ottomans can uniquely bring to any room’s décor. Carrington Court is home to multiple lovely ottoman choices with over 200 different fabric options. So what are you still doing reading this post? Head over there and see what magic their products can bring to your home.