How To Decorate An Ottoman

Ottomans are a popular living room staple. They have come a long way in today's decor and can be used as a coffee table, footstool, or storage place, as per MyMove. Adding this type of furniture to the living space is becoming increasingly popular as it has such versatility. Displaying an ottoman in the living room is an important decision worth taking some time to make. There are several styles to choose from, such as overstuffed, cocktail, storage, table, or accent (via Grand Home Furnishings.) 

Choosing to add an ottoman, or a few, to your home increases its potential to become the focal point of your space, so take all the time you need to not only style it but to make it as functional as possible. If you are searching for design tips to spruce up your existing ottoman, or need further convincing to add one to your space, then keep reading! Here are our best living room ottoman ideas that will inspire you

Look at your existing furniture and determine function

Some general guidelines can be helpful when beginning to style an ottoman to keep the decor practical and pretty. According to Housely, one could start their styling quest by taking existing furniture pieces in the room into consideration. An ottoman should complement the existing sofa, but does not necessarily need to match in pattern and fabric. 

Another style tactic to keep in mind when decorating an ottoman is determining its function in your home. What do you need the ottoman to do for you in your living area? How much space is required for day-to-day use? Will you be entertaining guests? Do you need a kid-friendly setup? Once you understand the functionality, you can decide how much space is needed for drink placement, books, or feet. Completing this style step can also help you visualize what area you will use for decor items (via My Hubbard Home). If you already have the ottoman of your dreams, then begin styling it with an accent tray. Style the tray using the four-quadrant rule for a flawless designer's look (via Decorated Life). To start, divide the tray into four quadrants and display an item in each square for a unique look. This will make your ottoman look expertly decorated. 

Style an ottoman with a tray or two

Trays are as versatile as you need them to be and are the go-to ottoman styling tool. They are easily removable if more space is desired, and require minimal maintenance. Trays can be found in various shapes, colors, and textures. Look to add a circular shaped one to a round ottoman or rectangular tray to a square ottoman. Topping the ordinary footstool with a tray creates an additional layer of character to your home. 

While the ottoman may be tufted, plush, or pillow-like, adding a tray offers a stable place for items to be styled or drinks to be set down. Trays make for the perfect side table solution, per Havenly. While it's handy for coffee cups and cocktail glasses, it also opens up the door for decorative vignettes. A tray is a way to adorn your ottoman with your favorite items. Add elements such as books, vases, candles, a box of aesthetic matches, statues, and flowers. As Thistle Key Lane suggests, you can even be bold and style your ottoman with two trays. The possibilities are endless when it comes to tray selection and styling.

Use decor to create different elements of height

Creating different height arrangements on a flat surface is a fantastic way to bring change and variation to an otherwise flat, empty space. For example, if you have some books that really interest you, opt to show them off. Pick some favorite titles and display them front and center on your ottoman, as per Apartment Therapy. Stacking two or three books together is a great way to create a vertical arrangement. 

You can then add to the stack by incorporating statues, rope beads, souvenirs, and candles. You can also layer in items that would benefit impromptu guests, like coasters or photo albums to flip through. Add vases filled with seasonal blooms for a chance to bring something organic to your living room. Plus, floral arrangements are a simple and natural way to create height differences and help break up the space. 

But while designing your vignettes, two main things to consider are the area of the living room the ottoman is in and where you will be setting the decor. This is important as the stacks of books and vases of flowers should not block any view or take up a majority of the decor space (via The Architecture Designs.)

Drape a throw blanket off the side

If you want to change your decor but want to keep it functional, consider adding a blanket or two to your space. An extra blanket or soft throw is the perfect functional decor element. It doubles as decoration and is used for warmth, as per Inside Weather. They are fantastic for adding a soft texture and cozy vibe to a space. 

When you're not using it, opt to drape it off the side of the ottoman for a relaxed feel. For a classic look, neatly fold the throw before laying it across the footstool. If your home has a whole mess of blankets piled in the living room, then layer them one on top of the other across your ottoman. This layered look is just as stylish and comfortable (via HGTV). To add variety to the space, display blankets with different textures, patterns, and complementary colors to get that effortless chic look. 

Add bowls, dishes, and books for a layered look

As determined, adding a tray on top of an ottoman is ideal for creating a solid foundation for displaying decor. Consider using the tray to stack bowls and dishes that speak to your style, as per My Hubbard Home. Scour thrift shops for a favorite vintage find or showcase grandma's china. Detailed bowls and patterned plates elevate the space by adding visual texture. 

Do not just leave the bowls empty, but bring the outside in to add color and warmth. Fill the bowls with moss balls, decorative potpourri, your favorite blooms, or seasonal decor (via Decorated Life). If a filler is insufficient, consider layering additional bowls or dishes together to bring contrast and depth to the space. You can continue this layering effect by adding candles on the dishes or perhaps a set of coasters. You could even pile up some favorite novels or art books to browse through, as seen above.

Set picture frames up for a personal touch

New, repurposed, or antique picture frames have a unique ability to add a little something to your decor. Per Organise my House, you should display items you love and want to see when decorating. Adorn the ottoman with pictures of your favorite destinations and people inside vintage-inspired frames. Pair your favorite photo with statues, souvenirs, and family heirlooms. Create a balanced decor scheme by decorating your space with meaningful items that show your character. 

Pictures are a great way to show love to your inner circle and family, but you can also think outside of the box and frame a postcard from a favorite destination or vacation spot. As per Apartment Therapy, ticket stubs, menus, and pamphlets all look sharper displayed in frames. Jot this idea down for your next road trip, and you'll be sure to add ottoman decor to your suitcase!

Add decor that doubles as additional storage

The living room always needs more functional storage options. Inspire yourself to find decor items to conceal everyday life in an aesthetically pleasing way. If you have an ottoman with space underneath, use woven or metal baskets as a storage solution. Find the right size to fit the space and slide them under the ottoman. Baskets are perfect for piling any remotes, coasters, or charging cables inside, leaving the room looking clutter-free.

If there is no space underneath, Interiors Online recommends opting for an ottoman with built-in storage. You can choose a small round one, or even a long rectangular one for maximum organization space. If the footstool you selected does not have a built-in storage capability, consider adding decorative boxes, canisters, or apothecary jars. These eye-pleasing containers conceal everyday living room items just as well, while keeping the space organized and clutter-free.

Turn your ottoman into the perfect cocktail table

No table, no problem. Usually, when a person has a decorative ottoman in their living room, that means they don't have a coffee table. This can prove tricky for plates and glasses, but luckily, transitional decor is popular right now and turning a pouf into a table is simple. To morph your ottoman into the cocktail table of your hosting dreams, tuck away any trinkets, books, or candles currently out on display. Be sure you choose trays that offer plenty of space for guests to put down their glasses without fear of knocking anything over. Ballard Designs recommends positioning the ottoman so it is within reach of the seats in the room. 

Trays create the perfect faux tabletop to gather guests' items and corral drinks and plates. You can also include any other items needed to successfully host, such as decorative napkins, color-matched utensils, and a set of eye-catching coasters.

Bring natural elements into the space

Whether the flowers are artificial or real, plants of all kinds have a soothing effect on any space and bring outside life indoors. Decorating with plants can also be extremely budget-friendly, as Lilies and Life shares how she plucks branches directly from her yard and arranges them in a vase. Fresh cut flowers from a garden, fallen tree branches, or autumn color leaves are the perfect natural elements to add to your decor with minimal effort and maximum impact. 

Fill your space with these natural finds from around the house and add them to a favorite vase or decorative bowl to spruce up the ottoman. If rustic is more your vibe, but exterior foliage is sparse, then seek a decorative raw wood tray, piece of driftwood, or pair of antlers to top the ottoman (via Better Homes and Gardens). Artfully combine natural elements into your existing home decor to elevate the organic look modernly.

Create a cozy feel with warm elements

Where is your ottoman? The most common places are living rooms and bedrooms. These spaces can be associated with relaxation and comfort. Create the coziest vibes with your ottoman decor by bringing warm tones and natural elements to the room. Consider adding a candle for that perfect gentle glow, suggests Life of Alley. Set aside space for multiple candles to sit atop the ottoman. To vary the look, display candlestick holders and a spiral set of taper candles. 

Other comfy elements to elevate the cozy decor could be adding warm, wood-crafted bowls, stone vases, and sweet-smelling diffusers nestled in a tray. Blankets bring the ultimate comfort level to a space, so continue layering your look with a plush throw. Wax melts, scented oils, and incense candles are all unique elements to bring warmth to your space. While comfort levels are different, focus on finding what suits you and your home decor design.

Add pillows for a comfy vibe

There are never enough pillows, says every design aficionado. When it comes to living room decor, adding throw pillows packs a ton of punch and can bring subtle design features alive in the space, as per MyDomaine. This is no exception when styling an ottoman. Adding pillows is a simple way to introduce texture and color into an area. Even if your sofa is swimming in a plethora of accent pillows, there is no design rule you are breaking if you add a few to your ottoman, too. Opt to add some unique shapes and patterns for extra flare. 

A room simply needs a splash of vibrant color or a new textile to give a space a whole new personality (via Crate & Barrel). Accenting the ottoman with pillows in different patterns or with added elements like tassels creates an interesting contrast. Pillows are the perfect way to elevate your style while still maintaining functionality in the room.

Bring the space to life with seasonal changes

Strive to keep the decor on your ottoman fresh and trending by updating the elements to match the time of year. Incorporating seasonal decor into your living space with practical periodic swaps of your favorite items breathes change into the decoration. A subtle transition from one season to another could be changing the flowers to capture the natural hues of the given season, The Busy Bee suggests. Choose tulips and daffodils in the spring and mums in the fall. If you are looking for something low maintenance but earthy, consider using succulents on the ottoman tray. Create a vignette and style your choice of flowers amongst the other decor on the ottoman in small groups, all while keeping proportion in mind. 

Bring out the seasons in other decor elements such as animal statues, book title preferences, color palette choices, or candle scents. Changing decor can be seemingly effortless when the design elements are functional and transitional in the space.

It's the bare necessities

If you have no need for a table in the living area and prefer your ottoman to be a spot for lifting your feet up after a long day, then let the ottoman do what it does best. Ottomans are often a focal point in living room decor, says MyMove. If you are into a more minimalist vibe or simply want more space to lounge around on, then opt for an extra large ottoman. This style choice will instantly complement a space and provide that additional seating you may be looking for. 

If an oversized item does not fit your space, double up and place two ottomans in the living room that complement the existing sofa and room layout. Make a bold design choice and select a striped pattern or bright color scheme for an instant eye-catching moment. No matter how styled, an ottoman is a versatile piece of furniture in a home and can easily accommodate any style preference from mildly modern to boho chic.