How to find the right style of footstool for your home

There are many different shapes, sizes and styles of footstools for living rooms including both small footstools which are mainly used as accessories or as functional footstools and large footstools which can also be used as small tables. Since their re-introduction in the late 16th century they have now become somewhat of a fashion item and can be found in most modern home settings. The footstool originated in ancient Egypt and The Egyptians believed that the soul rested on a footstool. Different symbols were carved into the footstools of emperors, telling their family’s stories or past events. They were considered a family heirloom and were passed down from one generation to another.

In the 18th century, the use of fireplaces increased and so footstools were widely used since they were usually placed next to them. They also served as a handy place for keeping water - kept nice and warm by the fire - or for keeping other items that were often required.

In the 19th & 20th centuries footstools were becoming more and more well designed, and they were now also being used as an accessory. Some footstools were upholstered and velveted, others were covered in leather and thus even softer and more comfortable. 

What is the purpose of a footstool?

A footstool is placed under the feet of a sitting person so that the person's feet may rest comfortably on it and be at exactly the right height and distance for their body. 

Elderly people may use footstools to improve circulation in their legs and feet, they can also be useful for pregnant women and nursing mothers as well as anyone recovering from hip or knee surgery. Of course, you don’t have to actually need a footstool to enjoy the comfort of one. They are also great for just relaxing and watching TV or a movie or while playing online games. 

Choosing your perfect Footstool

Deciding what you want to use your footstool for will help you choose the right style for your home. Is it mainly for show, do you want to use it for storage or actually as a functional footstool for resting your feet on? There are some footstools which are made for a specific purpose such as helping with circulation or breastfeeding. 

Does my footstool have to match my sofa?

This is a question that many people ask and there is no real right answer for. The best answer is that it’s up to you, there’s nothing to say that a footstool must match your sofa and everytime you change your sofa you have to also change your footstool but it can also be very aesthetically pleasing to have a matching set. 

footstool and sofa

Should the footstool be lower than the sofa?

Ideally your footstool should be 2 inches shorter than your sofa but as long as it is not taller than the sofa itself then it is also fine. Most footstools are no more than 12 inches in height. If you choose a large footstool then it can also serve other purposes such as acting as a coffee table, using it to play board games, or putting your laptop, books and magazines on.

What’s the difference between an ottoman and a footstool?

An ottoman is traditionally used to store things in although it can also be used as a footstool. A normal footstool does not have storage. An ottoman is also normally higher than a footstool and can be used as a seat more easily than a footstool although it doesn’t have a backrest or arms. 

Can you use a footstool as a seat?

A footstool can make a great seat for small kids as it is often the perfect height for them and they feel great having their own special seat. For older kids and adults an ottoman is a much better choice for a seat. Bear in mind that footstools are not really designed to be seats and if this is your main purpose for purchasing a footstool it may be a better idea to choose either an ottoman or a purposefully made kids chair. 

multispot footstools

How do you use footstools to accessorise your home?

Footstools are not only for putting your feet on but they can also be an attractive accessory for your home environment. You can use them to display books or maybe a tray with a tea set. The footstool can go almost anywhere in your lounge, next to the sofa, in the corner of the room or adjacent to the entertainment system. If you're using the footstool as more of an accessory, you can place it between your seats in place of a coffee table.

Another important consideration is the fabric you want on your footstool. Do you want it to match your other soft furnishings or be more unique? If you choose a cloth footstool then it should be made from a study cloth to prevent easy wear and tear. Also if you are planning to actually use it as a footstool you may want to consider a dark color or even a leather footstool which can be wiped clean. If you decide that you want a footstool with a unique finish compared to your sofa then you may like our Multispot footstools which can be made in either a light or dark fabric.