Poufs vs. Ottomans

Differences Between Ottomans and Poufs

Ottomans and poufs are upholstered footstools that boost the comfort of a room with their looks and functionality. These two types of footrests have several differences, including their appearance, size and purpose. By choosing the pouf or ottoman that suits your needs and fits your style, you can decorate your home with a chic, cozy and convenient new piece of furniture.

Poufs and ottomans are upholstered stools that you can use in any part of your home to create a comfier and more functional space.
Poufs and ottomans are upholstered stools that you can use in any part of your home to create a comfier and more functional space.

What is an Ottoman?

A common addition to a formal living room set or accent chair, ottomans are upholstered stools with a structured frame. Sometimes considered an extra seat, ottomans are backless and tend to be a little heavier than most decorative accents. These footrests come in various sizes and shapes but typically range between 13″ and 20″ tall, running equal to or slightly shorter than a coordinating sofa.

What is a Pouf?

Compact and lightweight, poufs are decorative furnishings with a large, pillow-like appearance. Their structure includes a round or square foam core without metal or wood framing. These upholstered, cushioned footstools range between 14″ and 16″ tall. Poufs blend in well with casual living spaces, and stores typically sell them as standalone pieces.

Poufs, sold separately from other furniture sets, have an altogether unique appearance with less structure than an ottoman, making it easier to personalize a laidback look.
Poufs, sold separately from other furniture sets, have an altogether unique appearance with less structure than an ottoman, making it easier to personalize a laidback look.

Uses for Ottomans and Poufs

When decorating your living room or looking for an accent for your dorm, keep in mind that ottomans and poufs can work as decorative or functional pieces or a mix of both. While an ottoman may serve better for certain purposes than a pouf, it’s simple to use either piece in your layout.

Purposes for Ottomans

Due to their appearance, size and available features, ottomans have many uses. The most common purpose for an ottoman is a stool to set your feet on while watching TV or relaxing on the sofa. As such, they are a smart addition to entertainment rooms or home theaters. There are many different types of ottomans, so your decorating options are nearly limitless:

  • Seating: Ottomans with sturdy frames and thick cushions make ideal extra seating. Pair a plush ottoman with your living room set to seat guests, use a small ottoman as a vanity stool in your bedroom or place a long ottoman beside a bay window for a naturally lit reading nook.
  • Coffee Table: A large ottoman can double as a cocktail table and footstool. Flip-top models have lids with a cushioned surface on one side that turns over to reveal a tray for TV dinners and drinks on the other. You can also set a decorative tray topped with coffee table books or greenery on an ottoman as a stylish and useful accent.
  • Storage: From storing blankets at the foot of the bed to smart playroom ideas for stowing away toys, storage ottomans help reduce clutter and organize your space. The ability to store items inside these footstools is a key difference between a pouf and an ottoman.
  • Hallway Decor: Have a wide hallway or an upstairs landing that needs a little sprucing up? An ottoman can serve as a charming accent or seat, filling up space with some much-needed panache.
  • Pet Bed: Ottomans upholstered in pet-friendly fabrics are cozy places for multiple cats, medium-sized pups and large dogs to snooze in your living room. Plus, with a storage model, you can tuck toys, leashes and extra food bowls neatly inside.
Stylish and practical, storage ottomans come in many colors and provide storage for extra blankets and pillows.
Stylish and practical, storage ottomans come in many colors and provide storage for extra blankets and pillows.

Poufs: Uses for Decorating and Beyond

With a more compact size and plush look, poufs can be practical as well as decorative. While ottomans are often part of a coordinated set, poufs are individual pieces. These footrests often have a lower price tag and come in various shapes, colors and designs that make decorating affordable and flexible. Some ideas for using a pouf include:

  • Space-Saving Seats: Pouf seating works well in small living rooms, dorms, apartments, kids’ rooms and among lounge-like game room decor. These small stools stack effortlessly and are easy to rearrange and store, so you can maintain a cozy but clutter-free space.
  • Colorful Accents: Thanks to a wide range of available hues, coordinating a pouf with your palette is easy. Find beige, white, gray and black poufs to blend into a neutral living room or a Scandinavian-style study. For bedroom decorating ideas, use a pink, yellow, blue or green pouf to personalize your space.
  • Footrests: Lightweight and easy to rearrange, you can use a pouf as a footstool for any room in the house. A small sofa becomes comfier when you create a makeshift chaise using a large pouf, while a rocking chair in the nursery becomes the perfect place for you and your baby when you can put your feet up.
  • Small Pet Beds: If you have a smaller dog or prefer cats, then a pouf makes a perfectly plush perch for your pet. Place one beside a window so your kitty can watch the birds outside or keep your pup’s new bed in the living room so they can have a seat, too.
The placement of a pouf matters for style and use. Try pairing two poufs side-by-side at the foot of a bed to create a tailored yet cozy look and provide extra seating.
The placement of a pouf matters for style and use. Try pairing two poufs side-by-side at the foot of a bed to create a tailored yet cozy look and provide extra seating.

Choosing a Pouf vs. Ottoman by Design

When it comes to different types of stools, differentiating between an ottoman and a pouf is the first step. Once you know your preference, you can decide what style, fabric, size or shape you want. Poufs and ottomans come in a wide array of designs, making it easy to pick a footstool, seat or decorative accent that vibes with your decor.

Ottomans and poufs are functional as footrests and seating, but other characteristics like style, fabric and shape factor into creating your ideal design.
Ottomans and poufs are functional as footrests and seating, but other characteristics like style, fabric and shape factor into creating your ideal design.

Styles of Ottomans and Poufs

Blending a stool into your decor starts with choosing the right style for your ottoman or pouf. Sold separately from other furniture, poufs come in many different looks, so you can choose from a range of different models. On the other hand, ottomans included with a living room set have similar styling to their sofa or sectional counterparts, so it’s easier to stay cohesive with your design.

Poufs convey a casual aesthetic, so bohemian poufs with textured fabric and embellishments such as tassels, fringe or braiding look chic in a craft room, home office or bedroom. Eclectic ottomans or poufs often have whimsical paisley, tribal or animal prints, too. You can also find specific patterns to fit your decor, such as beachy motifs with shells or sailboats for a coastal or nautical vibe.

Because ottomans are a classic addition to most family room sets, it’s common to find them in formal layouts. Traditional ottomans may have wooden legs and a square shape with subtle decorations like button tufting and nailhead trim. More modern poufs and ottomans have a sleek appearance with clean lines, single color upholstery and legs that are either tapered or hidden.

A classic cocktail ottoman with tufting and nailhead trim makes a beautiful coffee table, while the open space below can serve as a place to store books and belongings.
A classic cocktail ottoman with tufting and nailhead trim makes a beautiful coffee table, while the open space below can serve as a place to store books and belongings.

If you’re going for an ultra-cozy look in your living room, contemporary ottomans or plush poufs have oversized features, thick padding and ample surface space for sitting or lounging. For something more opulent, incorporate Old Hollywood luxury into your bedroom or den with a glamorous pouf or ottoman featuring a shiny metal base, pleating or jewel-toned upholstery.

An ottoman or pouf with a metallic base and luxurious velvet upholstery makes a dazzling accent in your decor.
An ottoman or pouf with a metallic base and luxurious velvet upholstery makes a dazzling accent in your decor.

Upholstery Types

Ottomans and poufs are different from other footstools because they are upholstered and used for relaxation or seating, so it’s simple to find a fabric pouf or ottoman with the right look and feel for your space. Whether you prefer a brown leather ottoman to fit a rustic motif or a hemp-wrapped pouf for a tropical-themed lanai, you can lounge in style and comfort with an upholstered stool.

A brown leather ottoman paired with an accent chair completes your rustic man cave, study nook or lounge area.
A brown leather ottoman paired with an accent chair completes your rustic man cave, study nook or lounge area.

Perfect for homes with pets and children, microfiber ottomans feature durable, high-performance fabric with a soft texture. Plus, they blend right in with other microfiber sofas and sectionals. Supple and smooth, velvet poufs or ottomans make a big impact in small living spaces. Meanwhile, the popularity of cotton poufs makes finding one in your kid’s favorite color a breeze.

Size and Shape

When deciding between an ottoman or pouf, consider the amount of room you have as well as your footstool’s purpose. For example, a round ottoman that swivels works well in living rooms where you need a lot of seating and appreciate open conversations. Large cocktail ottomans are perfect for get-togethers and come in a square or rectangular shape to fit your seating arrangement.

Poufs are ideal for small spaces as a seat, as a side table topped with a tray or when paired with a small accent chair. A round pouf looks like a large pillow and works beautifully as a colorful accent in a playroom or teen bedroom. Square poufs are firm enough for sturdy seating as well as resting your feet, while rectangular poufs make great floor pillows when you’re sharing takeout on the coffee table.

Colorful poufs make fantastic statement pieces and accents in bedrooms, especially when coordinated with your throw pillows, blankets or other decor.
Colorful poufs make fantastic statement pieces and accents in bedrooms, especially when coordinated with your throw pillows, blankets or other decor.