Textile-wrapped ottomans are a popular design choice, but before you shell out big bucks for one of these babies, consider the pros and cons of upholstered block ottomans.
After three years of owning our beloved upholstered block ottoman, we sold it to make way for a vintage coffee table. This was not a hasty decision. We’d been thinking about making the switch ever since we moved into our California forever home, but the right replacement just never presented itself…until recently. I’m not ready to share our new-to-us vintage coffee table just yet, but you know it has to be special if it’s taking the place of our custom upholstered block ottoman.
Quick ottoman back story: I purchased a vintage Kilim rug off of Etsy and had a local upholsterer and furniture builder create the first iteration (pictured above in a home we rented). Then, when I realized vintage Kilim was not really my thing, I purchased a micro windowpane plaid fabric and had the upholsterer recover the ottoman. The second version was perfect and has served us well in two different houses.
I always say you never know unless and until you try. So, to Jeff’s chagrin, I try a lot of things only to find out they don’t work for us. This ottoman was one of those things, and today I’m sharing why. Click through to read about the pros the cons of upholstered block ottomans and determine whether or not this would be the right choice for your home.
Pros and Cons of Upholstered Block Ottomans
Before I get into the nitty gritty of the pros and cons, it bears mentioning that I adored that rental house (pictured above and below). It’s hard for me to even use these pictures because I remember how much I loved the natural light and the ideal layout in that home. The kicker is, it’s right down the street! I wish we could have purchased it, but the owner wasn’t even remotely interested in selling. I still daydream about that house though.
It seemed like our upholstered block ottoman was made for that living room too. There was plenty of walking space around it, and it was the perfect scale for the furniture we had. It looked amazing with our taupe loveseat, beautiful Kelly Money artwork, and textural window treatments. Plus, this was the formal living room, where the ottoman could live in relative peace and cleanliness. That was not the case once we moved, which brings me to the point of this post…the pros and cons.
Pros of Upholstered Block Ottomans
- Unique Style – You might see this type of ottoman all over interior design blogs and social media, but it’s still not something very many households have. Thus, it’s a unique addition to any home.
- Customization – If you’re not opposed to doing a little legwork, you can customize the size and shape of your ottoman, as well as the fabric, which is where it gets fun. Search Etsy for a vintage or antique textile (use words like Kilim, Turkish, and tapestry), order it, and find yourself a local upholsterer who can build one of these for you. Even if the upholsterer doesn’t build furniture, you can ask for a reference for someone who does OR you can buy a pre-made one and have it recovered. It’s not as hard as it seems.
- Soft and Safe – If you have young kids and are concerned about hard surfaces or sharp edges, an upholstered block ottoman is the perfect solution. Also, if your family loves to put their feet up (who doesn’t) more than they like to have a hard surface for drinks and books and such, then this is the way to go. Just make sure you Scotchgard your fabric so it stays as as clean as possible with kids and pets. A yearly professional cleaning is recommended as well.
- Resale Value and Reusability – These block ottomans hold their value exceptionally well because they’re unique, can be easily recovered or cleaned, and a lot of people don’t want to do the legwork to have one built. They don’t get damaged or worn the way wood and metal coffee tables do, so giving them a new life with new fabric is easy and attainable.
Cons of Upholstered Block Ottomans
- Easily Soiled – This con goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway because it’s important to consider. Upholstered ottomans are safe and soft for little ones, but they’re also magnets for everything from drool to sippy cup spills to grubby hand prints. As kids get older and they invite their friends over, feet, and oftentimes shoes, end up on the ottoman. Spills happen, kids (and husbands) forget the rules, and life eventually ends up on the surface of upholstered ottomans. So, you have to commit to regular cleanings and lots of patience if you plan to have one in your home.
- Nowhere to Set Drinks – This unfortunate fact is one reason we had so many spills on our ottoman. If it had been in our formal living room (not possible in our current home), this wouldn’t have been such an issue. But, these are usually found in family rooms because of their comfort, so it’s a bit of a catch twenty two. We even had a large tray on our ottoman and it still wasn’t sufficient for drinks or anything else you’d want to set on a coffee table. It’s also challenging to host people who aren’t used to an upholstered ottoman. We recently had my best friend and her husband over, and he couldn’t figure out what to do with his coffee while we were chatting in the living room. That pushed me over the edge to make the switch to a coffee table.
- No Foot Space Underneath – This was not a con I expected to care about, and yet, I did. Jeff and the girls routinely stubbed their toes on the ottoman, and while that alone would not have caused me to sell our ottoman, it was a con I felt needed to be mentioned. Just like cabinets need a toe kick space to account for how far out our feet stick, furniture functions best when there is room for your feet to maneuver.
- Holds Allergens – This one is for all you pet owners, like us. I wish this wasn’t such an issue, but with two dogs and now a cat, I knew our days with a large upholstered ottoman were numbered. We still have an ottoman in our front living room, but the animals and kids don’t spend much time in there, and it’s much smaller. Every living thing in our home gravitates toward the family room, so pet hair and dust were a constant problem for us. Yes, you can cover your ottoman in pet and kid-friendly fabric, but that’s more expensive, and there aren’t as many options. I’m super low maintenance with house cleaning, but I love a clean house, so I chose to eliminate the allergen magnet altogether rather than deal with the upkeep.
Well, that’s all the pros and cons of upholstered block ottomans I can think of. And to be clear, I’m not sharing these with you to sway you either way. With all the questions I receive about our former block ottoman, I figured this was worth writing a post about so that you can make a fully informed decision if you are considering adding one of these to your home.
I still love a beautiful upholstered ottoman, but for the season of life we are in, making the decision to replace ours with a conventional wood coffee table has been the wisest choice. Only you know what the best choice is for your home, and I hope this post helps you in knowing what that is.
Tell me your thoughts on these pros and cons in the comments below!
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