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How To Decorate An Ottoman

An ottoman is not merely another surface to decorate in your home; it’s a crucial piece of furniture that can function in so many ways. Whether it’s decorated or not, it can be both a beautiful statement piece and a practical asset in a living room, bedroom, playroom, any seating area, and even an entryway. If you’re still wondering “What is an ottoman?” We share everything you need to know.

Whether it serves as your coffee table or a place to set your feet, we’ll teach you how to decorate an ottoman so that it adds to your living area. These inspiring ideas will have you convinced of not just the necessity of an ottoman, but the necessity of one in every room. 

Add a Tray 

Adding a tray is one of the best ways to decorate an ottoman because it creates a hard surface that is both functional and beautiful, especially if your ottoman is the centerpiece of your living room. Most ottomans are soft and covered in fabric, which means, they don’t function the same as a coffee table—you can’t set your coffee on it. Add a tray, though, and suddenly you can. Voilá!

Adding a tray is also a functional way to add a surface you can decorate. Considering that’s what this article is all about, we take it you like to decorate. A tray can hold all of your decorative objects and keep them from floating around the ottoman and rolling off.

When shopping for a tray for your ottoman, choose a material that won’t scratch or snag the fabric when you move the tray around. Keep the size and shape of your ottoman in mind as well; a rectangle tray works on a rectangle ottoman, a square tray works on a square ottoman, and a round tray works on an ottoman that is round or square. Whatever shape you go with, the tray should take up at least half the surface area of the ottoman. 

Adorn the Tray

Once you’ve got a tray in place, you can easily add more decor to its flat surface. We love the look of a vase of flowers or a real live plant to add height, color, and life to the space, but there are plenty of other ways to adorn a tray too. Embrace any or all of these ideas: 

  • Sculptural objects such as metal asterisks and orbs, wooden knots, glass beads, and all those funky-shaped things.
  • Coffee table books. Don’t be shy, stack two or three or more to give off a well-educated vibe.
  • Show off your worldly side with all those souvenirs you’ve collected and have nowhere to put; a woven basket, an ornate box, ceramic coasters, etc. 
  • Incorporate ambiance with candles or candlesticks, diffusers, and the like.

The magic number of items for optimum style is three, but you can fudge this a bit. For instance, each item of the same type can count as one i.e, three stacked books or two candlesticks. Small accessories can also be removed from the count such as coasters or beads, especially when set on top of books or magazines. 

Display Magazines or Books 

Speaking of books and magazines… literature is a great way to decorate an ottoman.

Whether an ottoman acts as your coffee table or your side table or even a window seat, it can be a great place to display magazines or books. Stack them neatly or fan them out to cover more ground. As they come in all manners of shape, size, and style, it’s relatively easy to find magazines and books that match your space, whether they’re weathered and vintage, substantial and stylish, or vibrant and petite. Their beautiful covers and spines will add color and texture to the surface of your ottoman, and thus your entire space. Plus, when you’re lounging nearby, you can easily flip through their pages. 

Create a Cozy Space

The upholstered look of an ottoman makes it an inviting place already, so why not amp up the coziness with a throw or pillow or both? Throws and pillows will not only make an ottoman more inviting but also add texture that is visually appealing, making the entire room more pleasing to the eye.

Toss on a Throw

A throw is a blanket that does double duty as both decor and a warming device. Simply grab it from the middle and toss it onto the ottoman for a relaxed, draped look, or fold it nicely and place it on the ottoman so it hangs evenly over each edge. It will not only look nice but also be within reach whenever anyone seeks its warmth. 

Add Pillows

If your ottoman is backed up against a wall, window, or bed, and primarily used for lounging, pillows can make the space even more opportune for relaxing. For a large ottoman or two ottomans set beside one another, add two throw pillows to create a sofa-like back to the seat. Inviting, now, isn’t it? Add a book or two as we mentioned above to make the space even more difficult to leave. 

Leave it Bare 

You don’t actually have to decorate an ottoman at all. That’s right, this fabric-covered piece of furniture is beautiful as is, and can function, sometimes better, if it’s not decorated at all. If it’s acting as your one and only coffee table in the room, you may want to skip this suggestion, but if you have other surfaces where you can set a beverage or a decorative box, why not save yourself the time and trouble and let it alone? Here are three instances, in particular, where it makes sense to leave an ottoman bare. 

When an Ottoman is Additional Seating 

An ottoman can serve many purposes, one of which is providing additional seating in a room. If you plan to use an ottoman for seating often, whether you’re an avid entertainer or it simply serves the room’s layout well, it’s best to leave it bare. This way, you won’t have to move anything on top of it to make space for someone to sit. Instead, the blank space will invite them to take a seat and stay awhile. 

When an Ottoman is a Foot Stool

An ottoman’s original purpose is as a footstool, which is another reason to keep it free from clutter. If it’s going to function as a place to set your feet, the ottoman should have plenty of room for you to do so. This is also a good idea if you have a piece with a fluid structure such as our Spring Ottoman. This ottoman’s carefully angled nature is designed to meet your feet exactly where they feel most comfortable and provide flexible support; it’s shaped to perfectly complement lounging.

When an Ottoman is an Accent Piece

A sculptural masterpiece or a tactile pouf is meant to be admired, and surely doesn’t need to be adorned. If your ottoman is a sight to behold, let it be. Any space can benefit from an ottoman that functions purely as a statement piece. 

Cover it in a Standout Fabric

Whether you plan to accessorize your ottoman or not, it can stand out in the space all on its own when you choose a statement-making fabric, be it a stylish pattern, bold hue, or plush texture. In our humble opinion, a custom ottoman is the only way to ensure yours checks all the boxes: it features a pattern that matches your vibe, has a fabric sturdy enough for your dirty habits, maintains sustainable standards, and doesn’t break the bank.

Our affordable custom ottomans can do all that. In terms of pattern vibe and durability, you’ve got over 400 fabrics to choose from that span the rainbow of colors, the hallmark of prints including Frank Lloyd Wright originals, and a sturdy scale from stain-resistant and kid & pet-friendly to commercial grade. So, not only can you cover it in a standout fabric that speaks to you, but you can ensure that fabric will last.  

Match it with Your Furniture

With so many fabrics to choose from, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming, but if you’ve already selected the rest of your furniture, it can actually be quite simple. A matchy-matchy look for an armchair and ottoman or sofa and ottoman, or all three pieces will create a cohesive, easy-to-style room.

Simply match the fabric for your ottoman with the fabric of your sofa or armchair and you won’t have to second guess a thing. Inside Weather makes it easy with all of our incredible fabrics from luxe velvet and vegan leather to our versatile and sturdy cross weave for every one of our custom pieces from armchairs and sofas to ottomans. 

Make it Unique

If your ottoman will serve as your coffee table or side table, don’t be afraid to switch it up. Making a statement is just as easy as matching your furniture when you can choose from fun prints and plush textures. Add warmth and age to any room with a vegan leather ottoman or bring an air of femininity to the space with an ottoman covered in our blush brindled weave. What’s more? You can also select from a variety of foot finishes and styles and three different pillow shapes and styles, and determine the details on the facade of each pillow as well. So, go on, make it unique.