Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
An ottoman is a great addition to any living space and it is very trendy in living room design right now. If you have heard this term once or twice, you may have decided that you need an ottoman in your home. But what size should you get? We've done the research to help you get informed about this very trendy, piece of furniture before you make your purchase.
Most ottomans can be classified to serve one of four functions, each with their own recommended height range:
- Foot Stool: 11"-15"
- Seating: 15"-18"
- Coffee Table: 16"-20"
- Storage: 15"-20"
The ideal height of an ottoman is between 13" and 18".
We will further explore each of these functions and explain the height recommendations for each type of ottoman. We invite you to keep reading so you can determine the best ottoman for your need!
What is an Ottoman?
Before you go out and purchase an ottoman, you should be clear on what an ottoman is and what purpose it serves. Furniture experts classify the ottoman as a type of couch. Like a couch, the ottoman can be used for seating, albeit temporarily. You will probably not want to replace your couch with an ottoman, though you certainly can. An ottoman differs from a couch in that it does not have a back to it or armrests. It also has a more extensive range of purposes than a couch.
What is the Purpose of an Ottoman?
Aside from seating, ottomans serve a variety of purposes, depending on the style that you choose. Ottomans are most widely known to be used as a footrest. Some of them can also be used for storage while others are firm and sturdy enough to be used as a coffee table or end table.
Most people purchase ottomans to be used as a footstool. This style is designed to be used as a footrest while you are seated on your couch or chair. Because it is designed to prop your feet up while you are using your couch or living chair, the height of your footstool ottoman should be shorter than your seating furniture. If you are looking for an ottoman to use as a footstool, choose one that is between 13 and 15 inches. You will find that footstool ottomans and pouf ottomans are the most common types that fit this height range.
At 14" tall, this is an excellent example of an ottoman that can be used as a footstool. It is small enough not to get in the way and light enough to be moved around, so you can prop your feet up no matter where you sit.
On the smaller side of this height range, at 11", this pouf ottoman is another example of the perfect footrest. Pouf ottomans are lightweight and portable like footstool ottomans, but they are shorter than the other models. While still firm, pouf ottomans are typically not as structured as footstool ottomans, and they do not usually have legs. You will need to use caution if you purchase a pouf ottoman online. Many of them do not come already stuffed. You will receive the shell and will need to buy the filling and stuff it yourself.
Ottomans to be used primarily as seating should still be shorter than your couch but a little bit taller than a footstool ottoman. The suggested height range for a seating ottoman is 15"-18". This way, you can still use it to prop your feet but anyone using your ottoman won't be sitting so low to the ground.
At 15.75", this cute heart ottoman is at the lower end of the recommended heights for seating ottomans. knows that just because "standard" is used to describe the style, it doesn't need to have a standard shape. Decorative ottomans such as this one are a perfect choice for your living space because they serve many purposes. They are short enough to be used as a comfortable footstool but tall enough for comfortable seating. When not in use, they are interesting and stylish enough to be part of the room's decor.
This Christopher Knight bench is the perfect example of an ottoman that can be used exclusively for seating. Standing at 16.75 inches and weighing 18 pounds, you will be less likely to want to move this around to be used as a footstool. Instead, you can place it in an entryway, bedroom, or living room as a smaller but elegant seating option.
If your living room lacks space or you simply want to try a new look, a coffee table ottoman could be exactly what you are looking for. The coffee table ottoman has a padded surface so you can still rest your feet on it and be comfortable. However, it can also serve the same function as your regular coffee table by supporting any items that you want to keep within arm's reach. You want your coffee table to be around 2 inches shorter than your couch, so the recommended height for the coffee table ottoman is 16"-20", depending on the height of your sofa.
Vegan leather tops this ottoman to provide a surface comfortable enough to rest your feet but firm enough to ensure that your items don't fall off. The height of this coffee table is 18," which is great to pair with a sofa that has a taller seating height.
Not to be overshadowed by the more common rectangular coffee table designs, circular coffee table ottomans are stylish and functional. While it is not ideal for your coffee table ottoman to be equal to your couch seating height, the circular coffee table is an excellent example of how well the equal height works.
The height of your storage ottoman should be between 15" and 20", depending on what function you want your ottoman to serve other than storage. If you want the ottoman to serve as a footstool as well, you will want one similar to the height recommendations for a footstool ottoman. However, you will find that it is difficult to find a storage footstool as small as 11" because it has to have enough space for storage. If you want your storage ottoman to also serve as seating or a coffee table, you will find options that fit their height suggestions of 15"-18" and 16"-20", respectively.
At 15.25" tall, this is an example of the ideal storage ottoman used as a footrest. However, its size, shape, and material make it very versatile. Use it for seating or a coffee table as well.
This ottoman has a large storage space, classifying it as a storage ottoman. However, it goes above and beyond to give the user the ability to use it as a coffee table. It is sturdy enough to hold drinks and other items, and the three lids can be turned over to create built-in storage trays. This ottoman's height is 17 inches.
This ottoman is a perfect example of a storage ottoman that can be used in a way where its height is not a concern. Designed to look like a trunk, this ottoman can be used in any room as a vessel for storage. However, at a height of 18 inches, it can be used in the living room as seating or a coffee table as well.
Now that you have learned the different functions of an ottoman and the recommended height for each use, here are the answers to some further questions you may have while you are shopping for your ottoman.
What is the Height of a Footstool?
To review, the ideal height of an ottoman is between 13" and 18", with the recommended footstool height being a little shorter as 11" to 15". The height you choose for your footstool will depend on the height of your couch. The rule of thumb is that your footstool should be no taller than the height of your couch but it is ideal for your footstool to be shorter than your couch by two inches. This is the height that will provide you with maximum comfort.
To find the height of your couch, simply measure the length from the floor to the top of the couch cushion. This measurement will provide you will the seating height of your couch.
Can an Ottoman Be Taller Than the Couch?
An ottoman should not be taller than your couch. If you are using a footstool your legs would above your seating height, which would be significantly less comfortable. A coffee table that is taller than your couch would require you to reach up to access your items. Again, this is uncomfortable and awkward.
An ottoman may be taller than your couch if you are planning on using the ottoman for storage only. In this case, you wouldn't have to worry about the comfort of using the ottoman. However, you should consider your living space as a whole and determine what height would help create a cohesive look.
Now you are an expert on ottoman styles and their recommended heights. When you are ready to make your purchase, make sure you consider the space you have to dedicate to your ottoman, and the function you want your ottoman to provide. Ready for some style tips for including your ottoman in your living space? Click here to see if your ottoman should match your sofa!