Which one works best for your lifestyle?
Not long ago, before the age of cell phones and Netflix, a standard coffee table was a staple in every living room. Guests needed to keep their coffee (or cocktail) within reach while conversing, and no one would dream of putting their feet on it. Today, our lifestyles have changed, and the traditional coffee table now competes in a crowded ring alongside laid-back pieces like upholstered ottomans that reflect our more casual, everyday life. Coffee tables and ottomans are now equally practical choices for today’s home. So how do you choose? We dig into some of the key differences between the two to help you determine which one comes out on top for your home.
The Defender: The Coffee Table
The coffee table is a classic choice. It’s made of a hard surface like wood or glass, which provides a large, sturdy area for today’s family to set food and drinks, do homework or crafts, or play games. Coffee tables hold up well against occasional spills and are relatively easy to clean. Most come in neutral colors that stand the test of time and ride the wave of several trend cycles. The modern coffee table occupies a relatively small footprint in a room and can wear a sleek formal look, rock a mid-century modern vibe, or sport a cool, rustic industrial feel.
A coffee table does have a few drawbacks. It doesn’t offer an alternative to those of us already dealing with the look of too many types of wood or hard surfaces in a room. And although its low maintenance makes a good choice for entertaining, it doesn’t do double duty to provide extra seating to accommodate extra guests. And of course, all of those sharp angles are like a mysterious magnet for children’s heads when they fall.
The Challenger: The Ottoman
An ottoman is characterized by its padded, upholstered surface, and lends an aura of casual sophistication to any space. Its comfortable vibe makes it a good choice when relaxation is the main purpose of the room. If you want to kick off your shoes after a long day and watch a movie, you can pull a tufted ottoman close to the sofa and put your feet up. Many ottomans are multifunctional as well as stylish; providing ample storage for blankets, games, or crafts, and extra seating for guests when needed. Its soft edges make it less likely that a child will get hurt if they hit their head when they take a tumble. And you can choose from countless patterns and colors to complement your decor.
But the ottoman also has its share of drawbacks. Drinks and other items will tip unless a tray is placed on top of its plush surface. Its bulky footprint can feel crowded in a small room. It’s not as easy to wipe up the occasional spill. And that on-trend pattern or color of today can start to show its age in a few years (remember chevron?).
So which should you choose? First, take a moment to think about how you use the room. Do you entertain often? If so, the large surface area and low-maintenance material of a coffee table may be a better option. Is the room primarily used for lounging, television watching, and occasional napping? A laid-back media room may be better served with a comfortable tufted ottoman. Or is it a multi-purpose room – used for casual everyday living most of the time, but also to entertain guests occasionally?
A hybrid ottoman with a convertible tray may be the middle ground you’re looking for. And in the right setting, you may not have to compromise at all! Place an ottoman at the base of a comfy chair and a coffee table in front of the sofa for the best of both worlds! Or keep a couple of upholstered cubes near a rectangular coffee table that you can separate and spread around the room to provide extra seating or a place to put up your feet.
There is no clear winner when a coffee table and ottoman go head-to-head. Depending on your lifestyle, either would be a great choice for your home.
Looking for even more décor and styling inspiration? Check out MyChicHome.com for on-trend furniture and home accessories.