• Tri City Furniture, Auburn

Coffee Tables vs Ottomans

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

Which one should you pick? Does it really matter anyways if you have a coffee table or an ottoman? What is the use of them in room design? I don't even like coffee (haha), why would I have a table for it? ...Well, you will never hear the phrase, "I don't like coffee!" come out of Kathy's mouth, but she will give you expert advice on what furniture piece will work best in your room. Learn more about this topic on Design Time this Thursday Morning at 9am with Kathy Kilbourn from Tri City Furniture.

So the main difference between the two pieces are comfort and you may look at the comfort and ease of the piece differently than the next person.


Coffee tables give you a hard surface always. Always is the key word here. You may love to have a drink in the living room, or maybe even dinner, therefore you enjoy the ease of the hard surface to hold items or clean up. You may have a 3 year old who loves to drive cars off the edge of the table, therefore you again like that hard top. You may want to complete a puzzle while watching the morning news, therefor that hard top helps you out again. Those are all the pros to having the hard surface. The negative is, if you want to put your feet up on it, your heels will be sitting on a hard surface. I see often going into homes a pillow or rolled blanket on the coffee table. I know someone in the home was using it for their feet, because they secretly dreamed it was an ottoman.

Ottomans are definitely the flip side of the coffee table. For the most part, they always have a soft top. So, if you want your feet on it, it is comfortable. If you want to use it for extra seating during the holidays, no problem. I guess, I would even say....If your 3 year old wants to drive his cars off the edge that may even work, without leaving any scratches, Eating with a soft top ottoman though is possible, but you will need a tray. Trays are seen all over in design now. Maybe, because our lifestyles living, working, being at home more is slightly more comfortable than it was 3 years ago. Using a larger tray on an ottoman is a nice feature, because you can put home décor on the ottoman safely. You can use that same tray with some pretties on it for your coffee cup or grab another tray for your dinner and a movie.

We are seeing a number of people turn to the ottoman, because it can be soft and comfortable, but also functionable with the use of a tray.


I guess the next question is, "Does it go in my room?" or "Does it go with my style?"

First let me say, if you have an exact style such as classic traditional or ultra modern there is a ottoman or coffee table that will work for you. There are so many options to choose from when working with American Made furniture. You never have to settle. I wouldn't even go to say, that a completely formal room with skirted sofas and wing chairs had to have a coffee table. There are beautiful ottomans with rolled legs or pleated skirts and tufted tops that would look absolutely amazing in that space vs the "traditional minded" coffee table. So your style is not a problem. Your preference is always listened to.


So lastly, why do you need it in the room?

Often we walk into a home and see furniture lined up along the walls of the room or the invisible walls of a great room. Everything can feel far a part and disconnected even in a small room with set up this way.


Adding an ottoman or coffee table to these spaces really helps unit the room and brings all the spaces of the room together. That one chair sitting off in the corner now doesn't feel quite so far away when using a center piece to pull it in. Again, ottomans and coffee tables are all about function. They want to be close enough for you to reach them and use them while sitting.

Flip through the layout gallery and notice how having an ottoman or coffee table - a center piece in the room really unites the room and creates a sitting area to enjoy. The only reason we would see such a piece not being used is when you have reclining furniture where all the seats turn in to reclining chairs. When that footrest comes out and up, the space in front of the sofa or sectional disappears. Sometimes in large rooms we still place a coffee table to unite the room only. It is only really used for decorations, because it is pushed slighting out of arm's reach due to the footrest movement. It is still used to pull the room into each other. If your room is small and you have reclining furniture, adding one more piece to the layout is not a good idea. It will end up being in your walk way and again, that does not help the function of the room. Your room should fit your lifestyle as well as your desired look. We want you to love it and use it.


This room is smaller, but it has 5 great seats for tv watching, one cuddle spot in the wedge corner and they are using the cupholder console built into the section vs a coffee table or ottoman. There are even other ideas such as this if you need an alternative method. We can help you out and find you exactly what you are looking for!

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