Ottomans: the best picks and ideas for adding style and storage

Because we think every home needs one of these insanely versatile pieces...

Blue and white living room by Neptune
(Image credit: Neptune)

Ah ottomans. What a brilliant invention. A bench that's also a storage box, that's also a foot stool, that's also a coffee table, that's also a bed (more on that later). Every home could do with an ottoman. But which one should you choose? Well we've got that part covered with these best picks and style ideas...

If you need any help choosing the rest of your living room furniture, check out out in-depth guide. 

1. Pick the right shape ottoman for your space

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When picking the right ottoman for you, first decide you want to use it for, and then decide what shape would suit the room you want to put it in. Square and cube ottomans tend to work best in living rooms as you can use them as a central feature to plan your layout around. Rectangular ottomans are best suited to bedrooms and hallways as they tend to be the perfect length to go at the end of a double bed, or to fit in a long, narrow hallway. ottoman

(Image credit:

2. And get the fabric choice right too

Then you can consider what fabric you prefer. Ottomans are versatile pieces of furniture that work hard and therefore choosing a fabric that will withstand a lot of use is important.  Think darker colours or leather for easy cleaning in communal spaces, and save lighter, softer fabrics for the bedroom or dressing room where they are likely to wear better. 

3. Pop an ottoman under a window to create a window seat 

We luuuurve window seats, they are such a covetable feature of a home. Unfortunately,  we aren't all blessed with period quirks but you can fake the look with an ottoman! Pick out one that fits as perfectly as possible under your window, throw on some cushions and a blanket and voila, the perfect reading nook (or spot for an evening G&T).  This gorgeous ottoman is from Neptune

Blue and white living room by Neptune

(Image credit: Neptune)

4. Invest in an ottoman that's also a bed

We told you that ottomans were versatile! If you are in need of a spare bed but don't have the room for a full on sofa bed, a bed in box is the perfect solution. This one from Loaf , comes in two sizes so you can pick which one suits your space best and you can choose from literally hundreds of fabrics to cover it in!

Bed in a box by Loaf

(Image credit: Loaf)

5. Match your ottoman to your sofa

Create a really cohesive look by choosing an ottoman that is upholstered in the same fabric as your sofa. If you like a more traditional look in your living room then the Chelworth Ottoman from Willow & Hall is gorgeous. We love the vintage shape of the mahogany legs and the brass feet, plus it comes in 230 fabrics!

We've got plenty of traditional living room ideas, over in our feature, so if you love this style go and have a scroll. 

Tidsworth Chaise Storage Sofa

(Image credit: Willow & Hall)

6. Use an ottoman to add a pop of colour 

So maybe you aren't brave enough to fork out a load of money for that gorgeous yellow velvet sofa, don't worry we aren't judging it's a hard look to pull off. But you could get a similar vibe with a brightly coloured ottoman. They are cheaper and obviously smaller than a sofa, so you can use them to dip your toe into the world of colour without upsetting your loyalty to all things neutral. 

Look how this colourful ottoman from Swoon works in this otherwise pretty simple living room. It gives the space and lift and a focal point. Plus, stick a tray on it and it doubles as a coffee table. 

Living room with yellow ottoman by Swoon

(Image credit: Swoon)

7. Or add an ottoman for a pattern clash 

We love the eclectic look of this living room, all the mismatching prints and patterns just seem to come together and work. It's a tricky look to get right, but we reckon the key is, keep your walls and floors pattern free and then you can go to town with furniture and decorations. The ottoman here only adds to crazy collection of furniture going on and it's perfect subtle shade a print ground the look. 

If you are after more tips on how to mix prints and patterns, head over to our expert guide. 

boho style living room with red sofa, wall hangings and other boho features by perch & parrow

(Image credit: Perch & Parrow)

8. Need extra bedroom storage? Use an ottoman 

Pop an ottoman at the end of your bed and just like that you have some extra bedroom storage annnd a place to perch while you stare hopelessly into your over crowded wardrobe deciding what to wear. Win win. 

We love this mango wood ottoman from Maisons du Monde . Perfect if you like a coastal, beachy, relaxed vibe in your bedroom. Speaking of beach house interiors, we have whole feature dedicated to them, so make sure you check that out too. 

(Image credit: Maisons Du Monde)

9. Use an ottoman as a coffee table 

Coffee tables usually have a bit of storage going on in them, a few tiny shelves, maybe a drawer if you are lucky, but this one from Dunelm completely opens up to reveal a shed load of storage inside. We reckon it would be ideal for bulky things like spare blankets and pillows, that sort of thing. It also comes in a smaller, side table version too. 

Living room with storage ottoman from Dunelm

(Image credit: Dunelm)

10. Add some decoration to a hallway with an ottoman

While you could throw some cushions on this gorgeous ottoman from Maison du Monde and make it officially an ottoman, we like the idea of using it as an extra surface to add some decoration to your space. This would be perfect in, say a first floor hallway; an area that's small and tricky to get anything really decorative in. Just pop some lanterns and a few houseplants on top and there you go, some practical and pretty hallway storage

(Image credit: Maisons Du Monde)

Want more living room inspiration?

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.