A chair with ottoman may seem like a no-brainer, but in the furniture world these pieces are not all the same. Depending on the ottoman’s design and purpose, it can have a major impact on your living room space. So, it’s important to understand the difference between an ottoman and a pouf before shopping for a chair with ottoman (or buying any other type of ottoman for that matter).
Ottomans were introduced into Europe in the late 18th century from Turkey, where they were often piled with cushions. They took on a circular or octagonal shape in the 19th century and began to feature arms that divided seating or a central padded column that could hold a plant or statue for people to lean against. Many ottomans also came with hinged seats underneath for storage.
Most commonly, ottomans are used as footrests – the perfect companion for a comfortable lounge or sofa. They’re great for putting your feet up while watching TV, reading or just relaxing with a drink. Ottomans can also double as coffee tables if they have a solid top that’s sturdy enough to support a drink or remote control. And some ottomans even open up to offer hidden storage.
A pouf, on the other hand, is a pillow-like seat that’s low to the ground and can function as a makeshift chair or extra seating in a pinch. Some poufs can even act as a side table, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
If you’re looking for a chair with ottoman that will serve as an occasional table and footstool, look for one with a solid top and sturdy legs. You want a piece that will stand up to repeated use and be easy to clean with a damp cloth. Ottomans made with natural materials are often the best choice if you’re worried about spills or accidental stains.
When you’re shopping for a chair with ottoman, be sure to check the labeling and stamping. Original Eames Lounge Chairs have UNC (Universal thread) bolts on the underside of the arms and in the ply panels under the cushions. Reproductions will often have hex (or alan) key fixings or metric thread that won’t be compatible with the original chairs. Also, look for a Herman Miller label and quality control or manufacture date bar code labels.
Another thing to consider is the height of the ottoman. An Ottoman that’s too high can result in dangling feet while one that is too low may cause the knee to shift too much weight to the underside of the popliteal fold (the area where your leg bends when you sit).