Don’t overlook the lowly ottoman; you might trip

Oh, man.

Make way for the ottoman.

This is the perfect furniture: Easy to move. Affordable. Comfy.

Ottomans have come a long way since Dick Van Dyke tripped over one in the opening scene of the 1960s TV sitcom.

The once lowly ottoman — aka a hassock or footstool — has emerged as a centerpiece with form and function. They store stuff, flip over as trays and double as coffee tables.

Even so, these armless, backless thingamajigs still get taken for granted.

“They’re the afterthoughts when you go out and buy furniture, and it’s the thing you actually wind up using,” said Pete Falleen, a retired Boeing production manager.

He uses all five ottomans scattered throughout his Whidbey Island home.

“I use them to put trays on,” he said, “and my feet.”

Think of it as healthy loafing.

“It’s good for you. That’s what we learned as stewardesses,” said his wife, Carole, who worked for Pan American Airways. “The worst circulation for people’s bodies is the sitting position. It is much better circulation for people to stick their legs out and have them propped up. When we’d come off a flight, we’d flop down and put our feet up.”

The Falleens, now Windermere Real Estate brokers, rely on ottomans when entertaining grandkids, friends and clients.

“They expand your seating capacity without having to have a lot of chairs around,” Carole Falleen said.

Ottomans are a cheap fix. Fifty dollars buys a decent ottoman at discount stores, often in an array of colors and fabrics. Or you can spend $500 for a high-grade leather square.

Pretty much anything goes. Ottomans are tufted, knitted, skirted, studded, sequined — even hairy. Some makers are leaving the fur on the cowhide and dyeing it into different patterns and colors, said interior designer Heidi Beegle, owner of H. Beegle &Associates in Edmonds.

Ottomans are often ottomen. “I have ‘ganged’ them,” Beegle said, “taken several small cubes and added them together in a longer line for a coffee table.”

She said storage ottomans are especially popular in rooms with limited space to stash linens and toys. Beegle, a designer since 1981, has seen the ottomans expand to just about every room in the house and even on the patio.

“It’s so versatile,” she said.

The word pays tribute to the Ottoman Turks, who covered footstools with ornate fabrics. From there, the ottoman made its way to Europe and beyond.

American settlers liked its practicality, and furniture designers cashed in by matching colors and fabrics with sofas. Then along came Dick Van Dyke and great rooms and giant TVs and …

The rest is history in the making.

More in Life

Expo in Stanwood can help you get ready for the country

The Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is set for Jan. 27 at the high school.

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

Want to buy a house this year? Here’s how to start saving up

Here are five ways to help you put 10 percent of your income per year toward buying a house.

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Night Circus

The Everett brewery’s head brewer had nightmares trying to dial in its new coffee and coconut ale.

A visit to the nursery helps put you in the mood to garden

Not ready to get back into gardening? January is still a fun time to poke around a garden center.

Plant of Merit: Hybrid oriental hellebores, Lenten rose

What: Oriental hybrid hellebores, with the common name Lenten rose, are a… Continue reading

Long rocking bench with strange fence is for protecting baby

The settee is a furniture form that dates to the 1810s. It’s a lengthened Windsor or Hitchcock chair.

Home and Garden calendar for Snohomish County and beyond

“The Promise of Spring”: Plant sale and workshops by Northwest Perennial Alliance,… Continue reading

‘Portlandia’ ending after eight seasons of lampooning hipsters

The sketch comedy series launched its final season this week.

Most Read