Tips & How-to's6 min read

How To Choose An Outdoor Ottoman: The Complete Buying Guide

How To Choose An Outdoor Ottoman: The Complete Buying Guide

Your outdoor seating area is almost complete — you’ve got your outdoor sofa or sectional and your coffee table ready to go, but your space still feels like it’s missing something. That’s where the outdoor ottoman comes in.

At Outer, we love functional pieces of furniture that are stylish and complement outdoor spaces. The outdoor ottoman is a versatile addition to any backyard seating area, but it’s important to make sure you’re selecting the right one for your needs.

In this complete buying guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buying an outdoor ottoman — from the best materials and colors to the most popular shapes and sizes.

Keep reading to start your buying journey off on the right foot!

How To Choose An Outdoor Ottoman

Outdoor ottoman for the outdoor furniture decor
Outer Teak Outdoor Coffee Table

When choosing an outdoor ottoman, there are a few key questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re selecting the perfect option for your space. Below, we’ll break them down to help make your shopping experience a little bit easier.

1) How Much Space Do You Have To Fill?

Let’s start by taking stock of your outdoor seating area and how much space you have to work with.

You likely already have your outdoor sofa or sectional in place and potentially your coffee table, too. This is the best time to measure your seating area so you know exactly how much room you’ve got left over.

You want to be able to walk around your furniture without banging your knees on everything (isn’t that the worst!) and, ideally, you don’t want to trip over an ottoman either. Consider where your new accessory will live to make sure you have plenty of space.

An outdoor ottoman is a versatile product with a few different uses, so it’s important to think about what you’ll be using it for the most.

Will it serve as a footrest for your guests? Will it act as extra seating when the kids have friends over? Or is it purely for decoration?

This might dictate not only the type of outdoor ottoman you purchase, but also how many you want to buy. If you’re filling a particularly large outdoor area with lots of seating, you might want more than one ottoman to fill the space generously and keep your guests comfortable.

2) Which Shape Will Look Best?

Woman sitting in a patio chair wit her feet on an outdoor ottoman

Once you know the size of your space and how many ottomans you want to purchase, it’s time to consider which style and shape will look best in your outdoor space.

There are a ton of options to choose from — square, round, rectangular, bench style, bean bags, and even ottomans that fold away like camping chairs. This can make the selection process a little bit tricky (but also fun!).

While the world is your oyster when it comes to designing your outdoor space, our biggest tip for deciding which shape of outdoor ottoman to choose is to reflect on how you’ll be using it. This can narrow down your purchase options and ensure your needs are met.

If your ottoman will mostly be used as a footrest, measure its height against your existing outdoor seating to make sure they match up. If the ottoman is too low or too high, it won’t be comfortable for your guests to put their feet on.

Ideally, your ottoman will sit slightly lower than your outdoor couch for the optimum seating position.

If it’s additional seating that you’re after, it’s important to confirm the weight capacity of your outdoor ottoman. While some ottomans are perfect for this purpose, others aren’t designed to be more than a footrest or decorative accessory, so it pays to double-check.

3) What Materials Do You Like?

Seagrass, jute, rattan, wicker, fabric, wood — there are many options available on the market when it comes to choosing the material of your outdoor ottoman. Some even come with removable covers or cushions (a handy added feature, if you ask us).

It can be fun to mix and match various materials for an eclectic look, or you might want to keep your look classic by opting for one consistent style.

For example, if your outdoor seating is all-weather wicker, like our 5-Seater Wicker Outdoor Corner Sectional or our Wicker Outdoor Armchair Conversation Set, consider keeping that theme going by choosing a woven outdoor ottoman to match.

If a sleek aluminum sofa, like our 6-Seater Aluminum Outdoor Sofa With Armless Chairs, is more your style, try pairing it with a fabric option in a similar color or keeping it simple with a soft ottoman that has a metal frame.

Our Aluminum Outdoor Ottoman in Pacific Fog Gray or Palisades Cream, for example, is ideal for just about any outdoor space.

Whichever product you choose, make sure the materials used are tough enough to withstand outdoor living.

While it might be tempting to buy an ottoman designed for indoor use, weather conditions like UV rays (that cause fading) and rain (that can cause mold) will have you regretting that decision pretty quickly.

Instead, opt for materials that are durable to withstand the outdoors. For example, if you’re looking for a fabric outdoor ottoman, choose one that’s made from strong performance fabric. This helps moisture slide right off instead of sticking around and causing mildew.

If you want to use your outdoor ottoman as additional seating for guests, be sure to choose a material that’s sturdy enough to hold the weight of a person. Some ottomans act as big, comfortable cushions that aren’t the best for sitting on for long periods of time.

4) What Colors Suit Your Space?

Two outdoor ottomans as part of the patio decor
Outer Wicker Outdoor L Sectional

Next, it’s time to choose the color of your outdoor ottoman. This decision will come down to your personal preference and will likely be influenced by the style of your outdoor space overall. After all, your backyard is your oasis, so you want it to feel like home.

Consider what kind of vibe you want to feel when you step foot outside into your space, and select accessory colors that work together to create that mood.

Do you want to experiment with color and go bright and bold? Or are you looking to design a relaxing poolside retreat using neutral hues? Your new ottoman will need to factor into this decision to make your outdoor space feel cohesive and professionally styled.

Additionally, if you have pets or kids in your family, it’s worth keeping in mind that lighter shades will likely get dirty pretty quickly.

We also recommend considering your other outdoor accessories when selecting the color of your new ottoman. Whether you’re aiming for a monochrome theme or you want your backyard bursting with color, it’s a good idea to plan ahead.

We always love to incorporate a soft foundation to define the seating area first, then add additional accessories from there. Our 1188 Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rugs come in three different sizes and three colors to accommodate any deck or patio.

Each created from 99+ recycled plastic bottles, our sustainably made rugs combine outdoor tough with indoor comfort. They’re durable and stylish and provide the perfect stage for your outdoor ottoman.

To bring life to your outdoor couch, our range of Outdoor Throw Pillows offers a variety of sizes and neutral color options to pair seamlessly with whichever color scheme you’re looking to create.

With hand-sewn patchwork and numerous patterns to choose from, you won’t be able to stop at just one or two pillows!

5) Do You Need Additional Storage?

Finally, if you’re looking for additional storage for your backyard seating area, you can’t go wrong with an outdoor ottoman that works double duty as a footrest and a place to store outdoor items.

If you want somewhere to keep outdoor throw blankets, toys, or games when they’re not in use, an ottoman provides the ultimate sneaky hiding spot. Even better, some outdoor ottomans are insulated to keep drinks and snacks cool.

Perfect for game night, backyard camping, or relaxing by the pool, an outdoor ottoman with hidden extra storage makes backyard get-togethers a breeze.

Keep Guests Comfortable With An Outdoor Ottoman

Wicker outdoor ottoman
Outer Wicker Outdoor Loveseat with Armless Chairs

And there you have it — our best tips for choosing an outdoor ottoman! This versatile accessory is a simple way to add functionality and style to your backyard seating area.

Remember to follow our buying guide to help you determine which shape, material, and color of ottoman will best suit your outdoor space. And keep your other backyard accessories in mind to create a cohesive, professionally styled look and feel.

You can’t go wrong with a stylishly classic ottoman in neutral tones, like our Aluminum Outdoor Ottoman.

Pair your outdoor ottoman with sustainably made furnishings, like one of our 1188 Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rugs or a cushion or two from our collection of Outdoor Throw Pillows. With indoor comfort and outdoor durability, they’ll complement your space seamlessly.