Butler County Times Gazette
by Jan Colvin
The world of ottomans, benches and poufs!
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About this blog
By Jan Colvin

I have been a professional interior designer for over 25 years (Allied ASID). I credit my mother Pat Robinson and Lucille Chase for my intense interest and love for design.
I've taught interior design at the college level and operated a ...

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Through the Front Door

I have been a professional interior designer for over 25 years (Allied ASID). I credit my mother Pat Robinson and Lucille Chase for my intense interest and love for design.
I've taught interior design at the college level and operated a private design business since 2001. Today I spend a majority of my time completing a new book which will be available in the first quarter of 2013.   

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Tucked under a console-type entry table, an ottoman can look smashing.
Jan Colvin Interiors
Tucked under a console-type entry table, an ottoman can look smashing.
By Jan Colvin
July 8, 2013 6:45 a.m.



Hey let’s put our feet up!

Whether your employment takes you outside your home or your daily responsibility is conducted within your home, most of us are worn out at the end of the day, especially with this Kansas heat! Agreed! And the thought of putting your feet up is so desirable that you might even dream about it on your drive home. Many have the chair that bends, reclines, vibrates and even warms your fanny in the winter and, yes, elevates your feet! What I would like to chat about is another way to put your feet up at the end of your demanding day: The formable ottoman, bench or the round ones known lovingly as a pouf. (Poufs are the wonderful round ottomans that might wear a pleated skirt or be tightly upholstered to give a sleeker more contemporary zing to the room.)  

These dandy pieces of furniture have really come into their own in recent years, and we have graciously embraced them with a number of tasks to fit our families’ needs. We have asked them to become our coffee tables in lieu of the traditional hard surfaced ones. We have upholstered them in leather and made them, in some cases, the size of Wyoming. Some even feature a magic drawer that hides a tray! You can sit on the floor Japanese style and have an entire four-course meal around the perimeter of some of these beauties! Versatile and a great addition to our rooms!

The ottoman is named for the Turkish state. In the 1300s, armies used ottomans as portable pieces of furniture while they were doing battle in Europe. (And we thought they were a relatively new piece of furniture!) I have to say I am glad we have given them a friendlier reputation then their past! I think the current surge of interest and use is due to our more relaxed lifestyles. Today, we are more relaxed and a bit more carefree. You can see evidence of this every day in what is now considered appropriate to wear to work. (Of course, I remember when dressing up for live theater productions was a must! Just look at how much that way of thinking has changed!) Putting up our feet was bound to become a part of how we live, and sometimes that is just what you need to slow down after a hot tense day.

So, how can you ensure that these wonderful pieces are usable and not just a design element? Buying something to follow a trend is a waste and a poor way to spend your money, gorgeous! Let me just give you some examples of where I have placed ottomans, benches and poufs and invited them to be not only aesthetically pleasing, but wonderful little workhorses.

In the entryway tucked under a console-type entry table. This looks smashing and, indeed, is a very Architectural Digest look. Plus, if you need to put your wellies on, you have a seat at your fingertips. After all, you cannot put on those fabulous tall rubber boots without sitting down. Or maybe cowboy boots are more to your liking, it will work for them as well!

A large coffee table with one if not two ottomans stored underneath. Grab them quickly to prop up feet or additional seating!

A bench stationed under a window or a pair of ottomans, one on each side of a piece of furniture, for additional convenient seating. I’ve dressed them in leather for a touch of sleek edginess to the room.

A pair of ottomans in front of the fireplace to warm by the fire. Clearly we are not using them at present for that purpose, but winter will arrive this year. Purchase them the same seating height as your dining chairs and you can pull them up to the table as well.

A perfect pair at the end of a bed or bench with rolled arms in upholstery.

An ottoman or pouf in the master bath is always a luxury. Consider having it slip-covered in a terry cloth fabric that blends skillfully into your bathroom design. (Make sure the workroom pre-washes the fabric prior to fabrication as fabric shrinkage must be considered for proper fit if you intend to wash and dry.)

As a replacement for a coffee table, especially for a sectional. Select either a wonderful pouf or any geometric shape for serving snacks or plopping your feet on. Make sure to purchase a large, flat-bottom tray for serving food on it.

Create a pull-apart ottoman from three or more ottomans of different colors or fabrics. You will find a variety of ways and places to use them in your home.

Additional storage. Many ottomans and benches have storage compartments under the seating area. Store bedding for the hide-a-bed sofa, throws or games and puzzles.

Having poufs or ottomans custom done is not as outlandishly expensive as you might think. The sizes you are able to acquire are perfect and you will then own a one-of-a-kind upholstered piece. Any skilled upholsterer can do this for you. Be sure to select fabric that has some soil and stain resistance to it—after all, you will be putting your feet on it. I think asking guests to remove their shoes might border on being rude, so be prepared with treated fabric.

An ottoman, bench or pouf is also a simple way to introduce a new splash of color to a room without investing in a large piece of upholstery or leather. Or, if you’re introducing a color through a new piece of art, you can repeat the color in the ottoman. Also try emphasizing the new color by adding tried-and-true decorative pillows or sparkling colored glass accessories that let light shine through. These wonderful pieces add one more element to a room without the heaviness of a piece of upholstery with backs and arms.

So, gorgeous, if you have been pondering how to give a room a little lift, consider an ottoman, bench or pouf. I think you will say, “Well done, smarty pants!” Now take a load off your feet and put them on a pouf!

See you next week-I promise to have something to talk about!

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