Ottoman vs. Coffee Table: Which Should You Use in Your Living Room?

By Samantha Todd | December 28, 2021

Designing your main living space is an exciting challenge. You’ll need to consider what your basic living room needs are (seating, entertaining, media, etc.) and combine those with your stylistic tastes and goals. 

It can be difficult to outfit a living room with the perfect balance of formality and comfort, but with a little effort, you can make light work of it.

Most living rooms will have either an ottoman or a coffee table, or perhaps a combination of both. To determine which you should use in your space, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each and explain how they can work in your living space. 

Your Living Room: The Basics

Before you begin deciding between an ottoman and a coffee table, you’ll need to make sure you’ve checked off the basics. The ottoman and/or coffee table will be one of the final pieces of furniture you’ll likely add to your room. 

Initially, you’ll likely outfit your room with a sofa or sectional, occasional tables, chairs, rugs, and any type of media you plan to use in the space, like a television or projection screen. 

It’s important to set these foundational items in place so you can get a proper feel for your room and how much available space you have for either an ottoman or a coffee table. 

If you are particularly limited on space, you may still be able to slide in a small ottoman or coffee table, but be aware there are suggested spacing guidelines to help make sure the piece fits comfortably. 

Once the pillars of your room have been constructed, you can begin to decide whether an ottoman or a coffee table is right for your space.

The Case for Coffee Tables

Coffee tables are the traditional living space pieces that date back centuries. Throughout antiquity, coffee tables have served as a formal table that helps delineate a living room or parlor from other seated areas of the home, like an office or a library. 

Coffee tables sit low to the ground and cannot be used as a dining table unless your guests don’t mind sitting on the floor. Coffee tables can have multiple uses but mostly serve as a purposeful table that allows a seated person to rest drinks or snacks atop it. 

Coffee tables are generally large, although you can find them in different shapes and sizes. They will, however, usually be at least four feet in length. 

Pros of Coffee Tables

When considering a coffee table, here are some of the benefits you can expect: 

Cons of Coffee Tables

While a coffee table can be a great choice, here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

The Case for the Ottoman

An ottoman is essentially a footrest that is slightly lower to the ground than a coffee table. It’s designed for comfort and definitely less formal than a coffee table. 

Ottomans are usually upholstered on all sides and can bring softness to a room that is heavy on structure.

Here’s what you should know:

Pros of Ottomans

Ottomans are comfortable and stylish. Here’s what makes it a great option:

Cons of Ottomans

Ottomans are comfortable and laid back, but here are a few considerations you may not realize about owning one instead of a coffee table:

If you are working with a small space, you can use a small ottoman, but you may not have the benefits you would with a larger one. 

Which Is Right for You?

When deciding between an ottoman or coffee table, there are a few important considerations to remember.

If you have the space, you can consider using both a coffee table and an ottoman. A nested ottoman/coffee table is space-saving and convenient but may not be practical if you don’t have the room for both to sit freely. 

For Your Favorite Look

Modloft is the modern solution for your design needs. Regardless of whether you need an ottoman or a coffee table, we’ve got a design that will work perfectly for your room. Our pieces are crafted from durable material that is long-lasting and artfully structured. 

Update your living room with the sophistication and contemporary styles developed by Modloft designers and enjoy a level of comfort and aesthetics miles above our competition. 



Living Room Measurements to Remember | The Spruce 

How to Incorporate Ottomans into Your Living Room Decor | Architectural Digest 

Placement Distance From the Sofa to a Coffee Table | SF Gate