What is the difference between an ottoman and a footstool?

An Ottoman is a low upholstered seat without a back or arms while a footstool is a low stool for resting the feet on when sitting. Therefore, the main difference between an ottoman and a footstool is their design and function and although they are somewhat similar they are also quite different.

Typically Ottoman’s have storage space under the lid whereas footstools do not and Ottoman’s are typically bigger than footstools. So, your intended use will determine whether you choose to buy a footstool or an ottoman. 

These days footstools are typically more popular than ottomans as they are more space savvy and usually easier to move around your home to wherever you need them. 

Unlike footstools which are typically used in the lounge and home office, ottoman’s can also be found in the bedroom at the end of the bed. They’re ideal to sit on while you are putting on your socks and shoes and provide extra storage capacity for those items you don’t want on display. They can also be a great place to store your bedding such as duvets, sheets and pillow cases. 

Many large ottoman’s and footstools can take a weight bearing of up to 90kg or 14 stone which is more than the average male weighs. So in general, you shouldn’t need to worry about sitting on them just like you sit on a chair. When you buy your footstool, the vendor should be able to tell you the weight limits for that particular model. 

The history of Ottoman’s and why is a footstool sometimes called an Ottoman?

A footstool called an Ottoman was once used in the Ottoman Empire. An Ottoman is a type of Turkish room furniture.

Ottomans were first introduced into Europe from Turkey (the heart of the Ottoman Empire, hence the name) in the late 18th century. They were usually a padded, upholstered seat or bench without arms or a back, they were traditionally loaded with cushions and were often the main seating in the home.

It is quite the dilemma to think about a footstool and its history. And, I mean, with all of the footstools that are used in modern day settings, the word Ottoman or Osmanlik does not even pop into your head for a second. At least not in this context. But, as anyone who has ever been to Turkey can tell you, there is a long and storied history behind the name Osmanlik.

It can be considered fashionable to ‘dress up your ottoman’ by adding a skirt. You can choose a flat, shirred or pleated skirt to cover the legs of the ottoman.

Using an ottoman as a footstool


Most footstools are around 18 inches in height whereas ottoman’s can be much higher. If you are going to use your ottoman as a footstool then you typically want it to be around an inch lower than your sofa or chair. 

When you are buying your footstool it’s usually a good idea to decide on it’s purpose beforehand and use this information to help you decide on the size and style to buy. If your main intention is to use an ottoman as a footstool then it’s usually better to buy an actual footstool as the height is specifically designed for resting your feet on. 

Comparing the sizes of ottoman’s and footstools

Typically even large footstools are smaller than the average ottoman which can come in many different shapes and sizes. If you need extra storage in your home which can also be used to sit or rest on then an ottoman is most likely the best choice. Trunk ottoman’s are popular end of bed additions and can be used in either an adult bedroom for general seating or storage or a child’s bedroom as a great toy chest. 

You can choose a square, oblong or circular ottoman whereas footstools are usually but not always oblong. The size of ottoman or footstool you buy will be determined by what you want to use it for. Crafted Home Decor offers both large and small footstools to suit most homes and have a wide range for you to choose from. 

Comparing an ottoman, a footstool and a hassock

A hassock is a type of chair that is designed to be low, wide, and the right height for your knees. In North America, hassocks are usually made from a single piece of fabric or wood, commonly in the form of a French curve, although there are hassock styles that are made from multiple pieces. 

A hassock is designed for kneeling on, a footstool for resting your feet on and an ottoman for sitting on. Hassocks can typically be found in churches or places of worship where kneeling down is expected. 

Some people do call footstools; hassocks and other names include pouf, puff and pouffe. Most people understand the generic term footstool but it can become confusing with all the different names used in different locations and variations of the English language.