Should an Ottoman Match a Sofa?
October 5, 2023
Est. Reading Time: 9 Mins
What is the first piece of furniture you can think of that can’t go without in a living room? If you said a sofa or an ottoman, congratulations, we tricked your brain into thinking that because that’s what it says in our article’s title!
But in all honesty, not every living room has an ottoman. In fact, they can be interchanged with a coffee table if that’s the kind of furniture piece you’re looking for. But, if you’re looking for something that’s versatile, you might lean more towards choosing an ottoman.
With extra storage as an option and the fact that it can be used as an extra seat, ottomans can be great if you have guests over and love to host parties.
But this begs the question… What should your ottoman look like? Should it match your sofa or should it have a different style of its own?
You’d think this could be an easy answer–because of course it should–but it isn’t… Even though there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, understanding design preferences and your personal style can help you make an informed decision.
In This Article…
- Understanding Sofas and Ottomans
- Tips for Comparing and Contrasting Your Ottoman
- What You Can Do Before Making a Decision
Understanding Sofas and Ottomans
Before delving into the tips for pairing these furniture pieces, let's first explore the distinct purposes that an ottoman and a sofa serve in your living room.
First, let's consider the common sofa—an essential element in every living room. Whether it's a three-seater, loveseat, or sofa sectional, these sizable pieces offer us relaxation at its finest.
While they’re great for sitting in, a sofa can act as the star of the show. For example, if you add accent colours and accessories like pillows and throws, your sofa can definitely become an attention grabber when guests see it.
When putting a living room together, one must always be conscious of the way they style their living room. Yes, everything should be placed nicely and kept up, but there also needs to be cohesiveness in a room.
But what do we mean by this exactly? What does cohesiveness in a room look like? Mary Lee Smyth, the interior designer at La-Z-Boy Kingston, explains that a room should look like it matches your personal style no matter what.
This means that the furniture you choose should complement one another. A number of things can go into this like style and colour coordination.
When it comes to an ottoman, this furniture piece isn’t the star of the show but is definitely up there when you think of the “supporting cast” in your living room.
An ottoman can act as an accent piece as well, to help compliment the star of the show (i.e. the sofa). It can also be used as an extra seat, a coffee table if it has a flat enough surface, or even for storage if the top is removable.
Further, they also come in many different shapes and sizes, more so than coffee tables.
Tips for Pairing and Contrasting Your Ottoman
All in all, these pieces can work together in a number of ways that can be subtle, or blatantly obvious. With that being said, here are some ways you can pair your ottoman with your sofa.
1. Should Both Items Be From the Same Furniture Family?
While furniture shopping, you might come across furniture styles that consist of multiple pieces within the same family. This occurs when a furniture style name is applied to more than one frame.
For example, our Paxton Sofa does not just come as a sofa, but also as a chair & a half, a loveseat, a sectional and a matching ottoman. Sometimes when picking out an ottoman to match your sofa, it can be as easy as finding the same furniture style and pairing it with that.
“Most people tend to go the easy way and get an ottoman that has the same style because they think it works better for their living room,” says Mary Lee.
However, you don’t have to go this route every time. Picking an ottoman that isn’t from the same furniture family is always an option, if you’re looking for more diversity in your pieces.
So long as they coordinate well with size and colour, this is what matters most.
2. How Big Should a Sofa be Compared to an Ottoman?
Say you decided to choose an ottoman that didn’t match the exact sofa style. Sizing and proportions weren’t as much of a worry, but when going this route, this is a factor to consider even more than before.
As mentioned before, ottomans can come in a lot of shapes and sizes; some can be as small as a footrest, while others can match the size of four separate small ottomans. But, when choosing the right size, you must take into account the size of your sofa.
Mary Lee says when choosing the right sized ottoman, one must be conscious of the height and how big or small it is. “You wouldn’t want your ottoman to be higher than your sofa, otherwise it would look awkward. You also wouldn’t want your ottoman to look bigger than your sofa or your sofa to overpower your ottoman–there needs to be a balance between the furniture pieces.”
If you do love the style of a smaller ottoman, a solution to this is buying more than one and joining the two ottomans together to create the illusion of a big furniture piece in your living room.
This might be a more costly decision than buying just one ottoman, but Mary Lee says the pay-off can be worth it in the end. “I had one client buy four Leo Ottomans because she had a big living room and she would break them apart for when guests came over for extra seating.”
Ottomans should be equal to or lower than the height of your sofa’s seat cushions. If it is lower, ottomans shouldn’t be any shorter than a four inch difference.
To make sure your sofa and ottoman heights match or are similar, it is important to measure each furniture item before making a buying decision.
What’s also important to consider is what the ottoman is going to sit next to. If it is next to an L-shaped sectional, for example, Mary Lee recommends going with a round ottoman instead of a square shaped one. “That way it’ll maximize the space more and make it equal for everyone to use if someone is sitting in the corner.”
3. What Colour Should Your Ottoman Be?
Another factor to consider is making sure the colour of your ottoman matches your sofa. This is where your imagination can go wild… without going too wild of course! After all, we are still looking for balance in your room.
Effective colour coordination is essential for a polished living room. Using a single accent colour for both accent pieces and larger furniture can elevate the room's overall look.
While this is a good idea, there are other things you can do when playing around with a colour palette. For example, why not go with more than one accent colour? If you want to incorporate something elaborate like patterns, you could create a theme that ties your living room together.
For example, maybe you want your ottoman to have an interesting pattern that has orange and gold tones in the design. Now you have the opportunity to create a living room that incorporates warm tones.
However, If you don’t want to complicate things, you can always match your ottoman with your sofa by picking the same colour. This will leave things neutral and allow you the opportunity to make a thematic room later on.
To learn more about Picking the Right Colour for Your Sofa, check out this article.
4. Can You Use an Ottoman with Reclining Furniture?
Don’t forget about reclining furniture! Normally when adding an ottoman to your living room, people tend to purchase one to compliment their stationary sofa.
However, that doesn’t mean that because you have a reclining sofa, you can’t get an ottoman. As mentioned before, an ottoman can be great as a footrest if you are looking for low commitment.
Mary Lee makes a great point about how adding an ottoman to a reclining sofa can be beneficial for the middle guy. Who’s the middle guy you ask? We all know the middle guy on the reclining sofa. That’s the person who sits in the middle cushion and doesn’t get a chance to recline because there isn’t a way for them to raise their feet up.
Usually, a three-seater reclining sofa only has two convenient latches or handles on either side for two people on each end to recline. The middle seat is stationary and doesn’t do that, unfortunately.
Pairing an ottoman to a reclining sofa can be the answer the middle guy has been looking for!
5. How Do You Style an Ottoman in a Living Room?
Now, we’ve said at the beginning of this article that the sofa is the star of any living room. Since it is the bigger furniture piece, there’s no reason to suggest otherwise.
But… What if your ottoman was the star of the show instead of your sofa? In previous sections, we talked about how some colours can create bold statement pieces that can help with tying your room together.
If your sofa stays neutral and your ottoman was the leader of the two, this can create an interesting design for your living room. Adding contrasting colours, patterns or textures can infuse your room with an energy that could be lacking.
Plus, when sitting down on your sofa, your guests can admire the star of the room at a closer level, awaiting compliments your ottoman knows it’s going to get!
What You Can Do Before Making a Decision
If you’ve come this far into the article, we’ve definitely given you a lot to consider when choosing how to pair or contrast an ottoman with a sofa. However, you still might be on the fence about what you want to do with your living room.
This is totally fine! Purchasing furniture is a commitment that will last in your home for a long time. If you’re still unsure, though, there are some things you can do before you make a purchasing decision.
One thing you can do is order fabric swatches if you’re shopping online or in person. Some furniture stores offer this, but others may not have this opportunity. Make sure to ask any employee to see if this option is available.
Fabric swatches can help you decide what kind of feel you’re looking for when choosing a furniture piece. Not only does it give you a more controlled and knowledgeable decision, but it can help rule out some things you didn’t know you either liked or disliked about texture.
To learn more about La-Z-Boy’s Fabric Selection take a look at this article.
Another option is utilizing visual tools to gain a clearer vision of your room's desired aesthetic.Some good examples are starting a mood board on websites like Pinterest to get inspiration, and using 3D planners is also a great way to see things at another level.
La-Z-Boy has a 3D Planner tool readily available whenever you need to visualize something in your room better. It is important to make sure you have proper measurements of your room to make sure these 3D tools are accurate.
To learn more about Measuring Your Space, take a look at this article.
Now that you know if an ottoman should match a sofa, you’re one step closer to figuring out what your living room should look like!
Our design consultants are always eager to lend a helping hand. Not only are they trained in knowing the large variety of furniture offered at La-Z-Boy, but they are also experts in furniture fitting and design.
You can also take advantage of our complimentary interior design services to see how our living room furniture could fit in your home.
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