What is an Ottoman Table?

Buying and learning about furniture can be a tough gig. The last thing you want to do is buy something that doesn’t fit the room you are trying to decorate, and oftentimes furniture stores and descriptions of furniture include these jargon terms that the lay person can struggle with.

We’re here to help you make the right furniture choices and stay afloat in a market that uses a lot of jargon. We’re not all interior designers, so read on to learn the basics about an Ottoman table and why it can be used as a coffee table.

What is a coffee table ottoman

What is an Ottoman?

An Ottoman is a large cushioned and padded piece of furniture that is often a large footrest. They often don’t have backs or arms but sit as an island, usually in the centre of a living room where the couches converge.

The cushioned part or the ‘seat’ may also have hinges that can open up creating some storage space within the hollow interior of the Ottoman, fit for magazines or blankets.

The smaller version of an Ottoman is often singularly used as a footrest and placed near an armchair or sofa. The larger Ottomans often have multiple purposes as they are quite practical, the cushion allows this to be a seat as well as a footrest when required, and are often hard enough to place non hard items on its top such as books and TV remotes.

There are many dialectal variations on the name ‘ottoman’ you may have also heard: footstool, tuffet, hassock, pouf, tumpty, or humpty.

The original ‘Ottoman’ traces its name from, unsurprisingly, the Ottoman empire. The piece of furniture was brought from the Middle East to Europe in the late 18th century. Thomas Jefferson, right here in the US, was one of the first recordings of the word ‘Ottoman’ used in reference to furniture.

Originally, this piece of furniture was used functionally as a seat and a sectional piece of furniture. It was usually piled high with cushions and formed a sort of fainting couch that was low to the ground and comfortable. Essentially, it was an upper class stool within the Middle Eastern kingdom.

Can You Use An Ottoman As A Coffee Table?

With the original Ottoman design, it could be tough to use as a coffee table. The cushioned surface is, obviously, too hard to rest your drinks on risk-free, never mind the stain queen coffee.

You could potentially put a tray on top of it and take the risk with drinks, but functionally it doesn’t work as a sturdy surface for glasses and cups.

 In the modern world, thanks to the furniture’s usefulness and practicality, it has evolved for different uses such as an ‘Ottoman coffee table’, or ‘cocktail Ottoman’.

A cocktail Ottoman or a coffee table Ottoman is quite different from the original Ottoman. It’s cushioned top has a function whereby you can flip it and turn it into a flat and balanced surface that you can place harder items on such as glasses, bottles, and mugs.

These have become common and popular in the Western world simply for their utility and versatility. These sorts of Ottomans can be really great for a coffee table as they can also function as a footrest or extra seat, perfect for guests. 

Some of these cocktail or coffee table Ottomans come with a perfectly fitted external table that can sort of slide across the cushioned surface to create a flat surface for drinks and other flat bottomed decorations.

What is more, these tables can also be integrated into the actual furniture itself, sometimes appearing on the side as an integrated table that also has room for storage underneath.

COnversely, some Ottomans come with their own sort of tray that is external to the furniture unit and is built to rest on top of the cushioned surface. Similarly, some ottomans have a flat surface in the centre of the Ottoman, this means both functions are accessible at one time.

What Should I Look For In An Ottoman?

Size: Make sure your Ottoman is fit for your couch area. It’s important to measure the space where you want your Ottoman to go. You need to leave ample space between the Ottoman and the couch for a sufficient walkway, but also close enough to the sofa that someone could comfortably put their feet on them. 

Silhouette: It’s generally recommended to use a circular Ottoman with L shaped couches or square couches. This really balances out the sharp corners and straight lines of your sofa. Although apply this vice versa if your sofa is more rounded.

Material: If you are intending to use your Ottoman for a coffee table then consider the material of the Ottoman. You want something relatively hard forming but also easy to clean if there ever was a tragic spill.

Most people will put their feet on anything so don’t worry too much about it being as soft as a feather, as long as it isn’t hard. Also consider the material of the couch you are matching it with – pair upholstered sofas with leather Ottomans or vice versa.

Features: Depending on how you want to use your Ottoman you should consider the features on offer. Want to use it as a coffee table? Find an ottoman that has an integrated hard surface, or an Ottoman that has a flippable feature.

Want more storage in your living room? Look for an Ottoman that opens up more storage space.

Our Final Word

Generally, Ottomans are a really functional and useful piece of furniture. They have evolved into many new designs that incorporate the features of a coffee table so you can really get the most out of your furniture.

Not only this but Ottomans have a cool history from the Middle East.

An Ottoman coffee table is a great purchase choice for anyone who wants to spruce up their living room with welcoming and soft features that draw your guests into the social hub of the room, all while being snug as a bug.