Flexible footstools

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 July, 2011, 12:00am


One of the most versatile pieces of furniture in the home is the Ottoman, or footstool.

And in space-starved flats, one can prove particularly useful - injecting comfort and added usefulness to a room.

Gracie Chung Pik-sum, sales manager of upholstered furniture manufacturers Cetec, says Ottomans are popular because of their practicality. 'They are easy to move around within the living room or apartment,' she says. 'Many clients like to place a tray on top, so they can use it as a coffee table and, when they want to relax, they can use it as a footstool, or for extra seating when they have guests.'

Other Ottomans are made to double-up as a storage box - opening on hinges or with a separate lid and convenient for hiding magazines.

'They are like a treasure box,' Chung says. Some are also on wheels to make pushing them around easy.

Ottomans don't have to just be confined to the living room. Try using them in the bedroom at the foot of the bed, or even in the bathroom when putting on makeup.

Chung says her company has custom-made Ottomans of all sizes, from a small 50cm piece, to a very long one on which one is able to lie down.

From cocktail tables to footrests, there are several shapes and styles.

More recently, a number of interior designers have been using larger-sized Ottomans as room dividers instead of a conventional round table.

Traditionally, the shape of footstools, that are referred to as Ottomans, are cylindrical and tall, similar to the hats worn by officials of the Ottoman Empire, which preceded the Turkish republic.

After the 18th century the use of Ottoman furniture became common in upper middle-class families in western Europe.

Because they are one of the least expensive items of furniture in the home, it is easier to be a little more adventurous when choosing a piece.

Whimsical or bright fabric can give the Ottoman a starring role in the room. And if you have yours slip-covered, they will be a longer-lasting, easy-care option - especially if you have children or pets.

Chung says there are also a number of embellishment options available - from Chesterfield-style deep buttoning, to brass studs or piping.

When considering fabric options for an Ottoman, Chung says it is important to also look at your lifestyle and the way you live.

'For something more durable, there are fabrics such as plaid checks, leather or vinyl,' she says.

'I like to use real leather with a basketweave as it looks contemporary. But if you like a very fine finish, then silk-velvet is good. These days, the velvet weaving techniques are very good. The velvet looks very smooth and when it has some viscose mixed in, it becomes more hard-wearing.'