How to Decorate an Ottoman

Written by nina makofsky
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How to Decorate an Ottoman
Ornate fabric makes an ottoman a focal point. (ottoman image by James Phelps from

An ottoman is a versatile, eye-catching piece to add to your home decor. Many ottomans feature simple lines and neutral colours that could use a boost of colour, graphics or accessories to make them focal point furnishings or to extend your decorating scheme. Decorating ottomans is a relatively simple and affordable process, so take some risks and try different trims, slipcovers, finishing details and accessories. While accessorising ottomans, remember to prioritise the furniture's functionality so that the adornments do not hinder comfort, portability and aesthetic value.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Fabric cleaner
  • Slipcover or fabric
  • Staple gun
  • Textiles
  • Accessories

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  1. 1

    Clean your ottoman. For fabric ottomans, spray gentle fabric cleaner on a lint-free rag and rub away stains, or use a spot of white vinegar diluted with water to refresh the fabric. If your ottoman has a wooden tray or trim, polish the wood unless you wish to paint it. The oil in furniture polish inhibits effective painting. Mild soap and water refreshes leather ottomans.

  2. 2

    Repaint wooden elements of ottomans to brighten their look. Strip old paint or stain with paint remover. Gently sand the surface and clean away dust with a lint-free rag. Apply a new finish. A wooden tray or trim looks completely different with a coat of antique whitewash or some Tuscan-style verdigris. Stick with a natural wood finish for a midcentury modern aesthetic.

  3. 3

    Consider different coverings for the ottoman. If your ottoman has a removable top, you can attach upholstery-grade fabric to the top cushion. Cut fabric to cover the area of the top of the ottoman. Wrap the fabric over the existing fabric cover, stapling the fabric along the base of the ottoman top. Trim away excess fabric. Update a one-piece ottoman with simple canvas or elaborate silk brocade.

  4. 4

    Accessorise different segments of your ottoman with textiles. Some ottomans have a storage rack below the cushion, while others have a removable tray on top. Refresh an ottoman's small storage or display area with a bright cushion in a bold graphic or a folded throw in an interesting print. For a bohemian vibe, toss a beaded sari or an ethnic textile over the top of the ottoman.

  5. 5

    Place functional pieces on or near your ottoman, such as a wooden tray (for holding sake cups or espresso bowls, for example) or a stack of small bowls (which can serve as snack containers when you entertain guests).

Tips and warnings

  • Make your ottoman stand out by placing it at a diagonal or by isolating it near a window.
  • Avoid cluttering the ottoman with accessories. Instead, place a basket, serving cart or storage box nearby for holding extra serving items.

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