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What is a Tuffet?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
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A tuffet is a piece of furniture immortalized in a famous nursery rhyme, though some people profess to having no idea what it actually looks like. Similar to a poof or an ottoman, a tuffet is a low seating or footrest device. Unlike a stool, a tuffet is typically covered in fabric so that the framing device and legs are not visible.

Tuffets are often combined with a chair in order to give the feet a comfortable place to rest. Some contain small storage compartments under the top cushion, which is often hinged in place. Tuffets are often covered in fabric that matches its accompanying chair, although it can also be an excellent object to use an accent color or pattern. Judiciously accenting the main color or look of a room with small furnishings such as a tuffet can greatly enhance the style and design palette.

A fabric-covered footstool like a tuffet is popular in many styles of design, and is typical of more ornamental and decorative styles such as baroque, Victorian, and 19th century Parisian. It can be used indoors or outdoors, although outdoor versions typically feature more durable and weather-resistant fabrics. Tuffets also make excellent children's furniture, and some models can even increase storage capacity through the small inner compartment.

Although it is possible to purchase tuffets as part of a seating set, they are also easy to construct and design to specification. To create a tuffet, purchase a small stool from a garage sale, secondhand shop, garden supply center, or furniture store. Cover the top of the stool with a layer of stuffing covered by battening material, and use a staple gun to attach. Fabric covers for the stool can be sewn or even stapled on, as long as care is taken to ensure that unattractive staples are hidden from view. Sewing a fabric cover to fit over the stool with snaps or elastic allows it to be removed and easily cleaned.

The origins of the famous Miss Muffet nursery rhyme that references this useful piece of furniture are unknown, despite several prominent theories. Some suggest that Miss Muffet is a reference to Mary, Queen of Scots. In this interpretation, the tuffet is said to represent the throne of Scotland, and the spider religious reformer John Knox, a religious court official that tried to frighten the queen into abdicating. Another story suggests that the rhyme refers to the daughter of famed entomologist Thomas Muffet, who was frightened by her father's creepy-crawly subjects. As with many nursery rhymes, it is unlikely that the original meaning will ever be known for certain.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for HomeQuestionsAnswered. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By honeybees — On Aug 27, 2012

I always thought a tuffet was the same thing as an ottoman or footstool. I like to have something to rest my feet on when I sit down, and have several of these in my home.

I have two of them in my living room that also serve as a storage space. This is a great place to store books and magazines when you aren't using them.

The stools serve a very practical and functional purpose. You can rest your feet on them, and also help control the clutter in the room by using them as storage at the same time.

By andee — On Aug 26, 2012

I have a tuffet stool that I made myself. This is covered in pink fabric and my daughter has this in her room.

We bought the stool at a garage sale and knew we wanted to decorate it, but weren't quite sure how. We ended up covering the top part of the stool with a solid pink fabric, and put a floral pattern ruffle all around the bottom.

This is a very feminine and elegant looking stool that most any young princess would love to have in her room, and we had a lot of fun making it.

By LisaLou — On Aug 26, 2012

@julies-- I certainly don't think you were alone. I didn't know what a tuffet or curds and whey were. I just liked the rhyming and the story that I pictured in my mind.

This particular nursery rhyme is still passed down to children today. Many of us probably have a tuffet in our home and never even realized that's what it was.

By julies — On Aug 25, 2012

All the years growing up when I heard the nursery rhyme 'Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet,' I really had no idea what a tuffet was. I assumed it was something like a chair, but never had a clear picture of it in my mind.

It is interesting how such a popular nursery rhyme talks about something that is not very common. I wonder how many other people said they nursery rhyme over and over without really understanding what it was talking about?

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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