The copyright for this highly popular furniture item belongs to Turkey. In the ancient Turkish homes, the Ottoman was the central piece of a living room, of much larger dimensions as we expect it today, accommodating the whole family. Well, a family with one dad and multiple mothers (just for the sake of the gossip…). Going along entire walls of a room, and piled with plenty of cushions, it must have been a very very inviting seating layout. The Moorish Hall (although inspired by the Spanish – Moorish culture, not by the Turkish) in the Peles castle in Sinaia is a close example of such a room.
It emerged into the European interiors in the 18th century, dimensions and layout maintained, but later it evolved into a circular or octagonal shape, sometimes with a central piece that held a statue, some other decoration, or a circular armrest.
Personally, I always believed that the contemporary ottomans with storage room under the seat, were the result of shrinking living spaces and growing need for clever storage solutions, but – nope! – the hinged seats actually appeared with the growing club culture, and the hollow space was intended to store magazines and newspapers for the club members.
The ottoman footstool, a ottoman with four legs, accompanies often an armchair these days but can be used as well independently.
Into the 20th century the ottoman remained a sought after furniture pieces, and the term ottoman is used to describe several variations of the initial one, which is why I am on the hunt for one for my living room, and for a second one for my bedroom. The ottoman in the living room should be upholstered with velvet (not sure what color yet), of small dimensions (I live in a teeny tiny apartment), with storage room (for the same reason) and I intend to use it mainly as coffee table, with nicely styled trays and flower vases and books on it. Give me a shout if you have/seen/know where to find one. As for the bedroom I think I might have already traced one, the white leather pouf from LeSouk (a cousin of the Ottoman), but it will bring in the right amount of spice for the eclecticism I pursue.
Do you have an ottoman at home? What do you use it for?