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What Are Cocktail Ottomans?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated: May 16, 2024

Ottomans are a type of living room furniture often used as a seat or footstool, and cocktail ottomans have the added distinction of serving as a makeshift coffee table. They normally have a larger surface than other types in order to provide space for a cocktail tray. The top is also flat so plates and glasses can sit on it without tipping over.

Cocktail ottomans normally have four very short yet wide legs. The legs provide stability for the piece and make it easier to move. They also help give this living room furniture the appearance of being a miniature table rather than a footstool.

Most cocktail ottomans are either square or rectangular. A square ottoman is typically around 39 inches (99.06 cm) on all four sides and sits around 16 inches (40.64 cm) high. Rectangular pieces might be approximately 47 inches (119.38 cm) long, 28 inches (71.12 cm) wide, and slightly taller than a square model.

The tops of these pieces are usually somewhat flat to accommodate drink trays. Some models may have an insert in the center made of glass or wood. This insert may be surrounded by a border of leather or vinyl fabric in order to add visual interest.

Some models may have a top piece which lifts up so that things can be stored inside. The lid may be attached with hinges or could be a separate piece altogether. Even though these types of cocktail ottomans open up, it is not usually recommended that drinks or food be placed inside them.

Cocktail ottomans can be made from a variety of materials, but leather is the most common. Vinyl, velvet, and canvas are other popular fabrics used to make these items. Ottomans can often be purchased as part of a living room set or they could be custom designed to fit the decor of a room.

Most cocktail ottomans are easy to care for. This is especially true of leather and vinyl pieces, which typically only need to be wiped down with a damp cloth from time to time. Those made of other materials may eventually become stained and need to be cleaned with a commercial stain-removing product.

People who enjoy entertaining may want to invest in one of these pieces. This is because cocktail ottomans can also be used for seating in addition to serving drinks. Adding one of these units to a living room or recreation area can help homeowners be prepared for unexpected guests no matter when they arrive.

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Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Apr 03, 2014

Those who are getting a cocktail ottoman for the living room, get one with storage. I just bought one with storage and I put all the blankets in there for winter use. It also has side pockets and we have put the remotes and magazines in there. I love multi-purpose furniture like this.

By turquoise — On Apr 03, 2014

@bluedolphin-- I have a cocktail ottoman and I'm very happy with it. It's actually a set with one large ottoman and two smaller ottomans. The large ottoman is rectangular and the smaller ones are squares.

Cocktail ottomans are meant for both seating and for setting trays, so there is no problem when using the ottomans for both. And you won't be placing drinks, plates etc. directly on the ottoman. My large ottoman comes with its own tray which I keep on the ottoman when I have guests over. Since the drinks are placed on the tray, there is no issue of anything tipping over. When I don't have guests, I sometimes remove the tray so that it can be used for seating.

Since we have a set, sometimes we actually sit around the large ottoman for appetizers and before and after dinner drinks.

By bluedolphin — On Apr 02, 2014

Does anyone here own a cocktail ottoman?

I'm considering purchasing one but I haven't made up my mind yet. Can a cocktail ottoman really be used both for seating and for placing drinks? Does this mean that the surface is very hard or firm? Because I can't imagine putting drinks on a ottoman without them tipping over.

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