Ottomans and coffee tables are important parts of many living rooms. But for some situations, having both types of furniture might be too crowded or complicated. Can you use an ottoman as a table? We consulted the pros for their take on this subject for you!
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An ottoman can be used as a table. In fact, this is a trendy choice because of its space efficiency, versatility, and casual look. However, using an ottoman as a coffee table can be difficult because it's harder to clean, cause drinks to spill, and create size and decor difficulties.
We know that trying unique things in your living room can be scary. That's why we've put together this guide to help you navigate this furniture setup. Please keep reading for a list of pros and cons to using an ottoman as a coffee table, plus a few potential layout ideas for your living room.
If you want to use an ottoman as your coffee table, the ottoman should be an inch or two lower than the seat. This usually means about sixteen to twenty inches tall. Think using an ottoman as your coffee table might be right for your situation? Here are three reasons you might be right.
Do you have a small living room? Then the thought of trying to cram a coffee table and an ottoman into your space might scare you. If this is your situation, this dual-purpose piece of furniture might be great. Look at an ottoman big enough to be reached by all the seats but small enough to fit in the room.
Using an ottoman as a coffee table brings a whole new level of versatility to your space. It can serve as a general coffee table for most of the time, then transition to extra seating when you have guests. Or, it can be a more comfortable footstool when you're lounging on the sofa.
The cushions of an ottoman automatically make the room feel more comfortable than a coffee table does. If you want your living room to feel soft and casual, this is a great way to do it. Or, maybe you've noticed the room feels too harsh: there are too many sharp edges, too much wood, or too much shininess. Get rid of one of those pieces and fill the space with a gentle surface.
This solution isn't right for everyone! If you're someone who likes to entertain, or you use your coffee table to eat off of, maybe you should stick to an actual table. Here are some negative aspects to help you decide.
Spills more likely
One of the best features of a coffee table is its ability to hold your drink. Unfortunately, drinks do not sit as sturdily on an upholstered cushion as they do on a table surface. The more items that are put on the ottoman, the more uneven the surface becomes. This is especially true of ottomans with buttons, deep seams, or other things that make the surface uneven.
Additionally, many ottomans have sloping edges. While this is nice and makes the room feel gentler, there's a reason tables have hard edges. See how this ottoman isn't completely flat-topped? It would be challenging to set drinks, food, or decorations on top, even with a tray.
Harder to Clean
When someone spills something on your coffee table, it's no big deal! Just wipe it up. But when someone spills something on your upholstered ottoman, it could stain easily. Even if your ottoman is leather, it's still more dangerous if something gets spilled.
It has to be the right size.
A coffee table is generally bigger than a small ottoman. While some ottomans are large -- like the one below -- this might eliminate the space-efficiency of using an ottoman as a coffee table. The ottoman has to be large enough to
Harder to decorate
Coffee tables frequently hold decorations and other convenient items such as magazines and remote controls. For the reasons listed above, an ottoman isn't as good of an option as a coffee table for this. Decorations are less likely to stay on an ottoman at all times and will look out of place since many people think of ottomans as footstools.
How do you turn a (cushioned) ottoman into a table?
If you're considering purchasing an ottoman to use as a coffee table, there are hybrid options so that you get the best of both worlds. Some of these pieces come with trays that create a flat, sturdy surface like the two below.
Other hybrid versions come in a coffee table shape and style while still being upholstered on top. This one has open storage on the bottom shelf, perfect for things you would put on a normal coffee table.
Another option is to make your own version of a hybrid ottoman and coffee table by putting trays on the cushioned surface. This gives you helpful versatility. You can place trays on top of the ottoman to turn it into a coffee table, then remove them if you need an extra seat or a comfortable footstool. These trays are also portable, so you can use them to carry plates of food or drinks from the kitchen.
There is a wide variety of trays on the market today. You can find them in almost any shape, size, color, and style. For instance, this wooden tray with a lip is a classy look that could stay on the ottoman full-time.
This tray is rustic-looking and comes in a unique shape. It would work well for a farmhouse aesthetic.
For a unique look, set this round wicker tray on your ottoman.
Wood or Plexiglass
Laying a piece of treated wood or plexiglass on the surface of your ottoman will turn it into a coffee table more completely than putting trays on top. Use plexiglass to let the original appearance of your ottoman come through. Or, use wood to add a different color or style to your room. Measure your ottoman's surface and ask a local hardware or home improvement store to cut the material at the exact dimensions.
Curious about the best size for an ottoman? Read this article: What Is the Best Height for an Ottoman? [by Function]
Room Layout Ideas
As we mentioned above, this format is probably the most realistic and helpful in rooms that don't have enough space for both pieces.
Ottoman with a sectional
A sectional is a type of sofa that comes in two or more pieces. The pieces are pushed together and often form an angle or two. Oftentimes, sectionals take up more space in a living room than two separate couches or a couch and a couple of chairs would.
This means that a dual-purpose piece of furniture would be perfect for the space. Put an ottoman amongst the sectional so that everyone can rest their feet on it. Then, turn it into a coffee table whenever necessary.
For instance, in this living room, the ottoman has a tray on top that acts as a coffee table. Everyone on the sectional can reach it. Also, note that if these residents ever need more seating, they can pull the ottoman out on the same perimeter as the sectional.
Want more advice on how to pair furniture with your sectional? Check out this article: Should You Have an Ottoman or Coffee Table With a Sectional
Ottoman with multiple seats
Even if you don't have a sectional, placing your ottoman coffee table in the middle of the room might be a perfect option. In this living room, the ottoman is placed in the middle of the seating area, just like a coffee table would be.
Two small ottomans
A flexible, casual option is to have two small ottomans in your living room. One can be used as a coffee table, and the other can be used as a footstool. This might work well for a small living room without enough space for a large coffee table or ottoman.
Can I have an ottoman and a coffee table?
You can have an ottoman and a coffee table in the same room. This might be necessary for larger living rooms where not all of the seats can reach the coffee table or ottoman. For instance, this living room is more spread out, so it needs one of each.
Or, you can use an ottoman as a seat even if you have a coffee table. Since the two pieces are used differently, this works. This living room is a great example.
Can I use an ottoman as a side table?
You can use an ottoman as a side table, but keep in mind that most ottomans are significantly shorter than a side table. This is because the primary purpose of the two types of furniture is very different. Side tables are designed to be reached easily by someone sitting on the sofa or chair, while ottomans are low enough for someone to rest their feet on top. If you use an ottoman for this purpose, recognize that it won't be as convenient as an actual side table.
You might want to use an ottoman as a coffee table because it is space-efficient, versatile, and casual. On the other hand, be aware that setting drinks and food on a cushioned surface can make drinks spill, is more difficult to clean, and can cause difficulties in size and decoration.
Good luck making this decision for your own living room!