Often the ottoman is credited for being nothing more than an accessory. By definition, the ottoman is a low box on which to rest feet, a low bench or couch, or a storage box. The ottoman gets its name from the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire that included Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and North African regions of the world. Furniture for sitting and resting feet often boasted the same small designs. The French who invaded the Ottoman Empire in the 18th Century referred to footstool-type furnishings that were taken from the Empire as Ottoman furniture. It is believed that ottomans were taken on the long journey west to rest aching feet.
Over 300 years ago ottomans became popular in Europe. When families migrated to the United States, American manufacturers copied the concept, adding style and shape to the already functional ottoman, which for an era was known as the hassock. Through three centuries, rectangular, round, and square padded shapes evolved into functional furnishings used for both sitting and resting feet. Raising or removable tops were added so that ottomans became space-saving storage compartments that impersonated fine furnishings. What was once merely a chair or sofa accessory provided additional seating when guests dropped by and table space for magazines and remote controls. Today ottomans are considered stand-alone pieces of furniture for living rooms, family rooms, home offices, and bedrooms.
Introducing the New Standard
Leather ottomans have made their mark on the furniture industry. Various light and dark leather tones incorporate into classic, traditional, or contemporary furniture groupings. For households where children and pets necessitate a more durable fabric option, wood and upholstered ottomans blend or tastefully contrast with existing furnishings and decors, making ottomans functional accent pieces. Some tufted and overstuffed ottomans create comfortable guest seating. There are ottomans that expand from a standard shape to offer extended functional and living space options. Ottomans with casters can be conveniently relocated, and ottomans with convertible flip tops instantly become tables for food and drinks.