Easy Ottoman Tray Styling Tips And Ideas That Really Work


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Make your ottoman a feature in your living room by adding a tray for both decor and to make it more useful for day to day life. Here are all the styling ideas you’ll need to give it a go. Let’s get started, shall we…

Living room try with accessories on with title overlay

I LOVE the ottoman in my living room.

True. Love.

You see, I was struggling with finding something that filled the huge gap in the centre of the room.

I wanted to have something soft so that the feel was cosy – so a wooden/glass/metal coffee table was out.

…and I wanted to have something that could be pulled up to the sofa to use as a footstool when we were watching films etc… – so it had to be something soft AND large enough to house our feet without causing fights!

Tips For Choosing An Ottoman

  • Find a shape that works for your room (round is more informal, rectangular works in longer rooms, and square works in squarer rooms or as a centre to a seating area).
  • Pick a colour that ties the room together (you don’t want something that clashes, and really you want a neutral as this will last longer and last through and decor changes you may do over the years).
  • Pick something with some interest (A pattern, a texture, some detailing etc…).
  • Pick something larger than you think you need (weirdly, the larger the ottoman, the better it looks in a living room. Think of all those glossy magazines and how they have large coffee table/ottomans in the centre of their living room…)

With all this in mind I looked around (a LOT!), there are some lovely ones out there.. and after much deliberation, I found the ideal one for us.

Enter – the Branagh footstool (now unavailable from – you can get similar chesterfield style footstools here).

Living room in neutral colours


I’ve had this for years, and I’ve got quite a few friends who’ve loved it and bought it as well over this time, because it’s one of those key pieces of furniture in a room that really makes it all come together and adds that stylish touch.

So – I was happy.

Really happy…

*Slightly-obsessed-and-may-have-sat-and-stared-at-it-for-a-little-too-long-happy*…. – but I digress!

The next step for me was to make it even more useful than it already was…. (I’m all for making things work hard for a place in my home!) – and that was to make it have the same functionality as a coffee table as well.

I didn’t want to add in more furniture (clutter alert), and so adding a tray on top seemed the logical next step.

Why Add A Tray?

  • A tray can be removed easily when not in use, and can be carried to and from the kitchen when guests are around if there are lots of drinks etc… so it’s very practical for a living room.
  • It’s somewhere solid and level to put your drinks when in the living room
  • It’s somewhere to display items that you love and want to see / have access to
  • It adds some storage to the room, and can contain all the necessary items in one place

So many reasons!

Tips For Getting An Ottoman Tray

  • Echo the shape of the ottoman for the best effect. Get circular for a round ottoman etc….
  • Either get one large one or get a selection of smaller trays that can be added together to give the impression of one larger one (this is useful if you want to have a smaller tray for drinks cups etc… and something that can stay put with accessories on it).
  • Make sure it has handles on so that it can be moved easily.
  • Mix your colours and textures. As an ottoman is soft, you could go for wood/metal/mirror/glass etc… and have some contrast. Look at what you already have in the room for inspiration.

With all that in mind, I found the perfect square tray while searching online… (you can get similar by search for ottoman tray – like this one).

Mine was actually a simple pine tray when I bought it, but I painted it, and it’s now a gorgeous black colour that’s been slightly aged in look (using some elbow grease and sandpaper!).

Living room with ottoman and tray
Ottoman with tray. Chair and plant - all in a living room of neutral colours

It was coming together nicely!

As an aside – I wanted to show you some other trays that I have in my house that could also be used, as these give different looks and feels – just for some added inspiration!…

3 pictures of an ottoman with different trays on top to give options

1 – This is the tray that I use. I like the black because it blends into the background a little, and therefore showcases whatever I add onto it. It’s also square and that matches the ottoman shape.

2 – This is actually a chalkboard sign that’s usually in my kitchen, but the colours and textures would work brilliantly here as well – I may swap this out for a change throughout the year!

3 – Showing how smaller trays can be put together to create interest.

Ottoman Tray Styling Tips

And now – the best bit – the finishing touch that can make or break this focal point – the styling!

This is so much fun, for so many reasons: –

  • You can change with the seasons
  • You can change with your decor
  • It’s easy to update regularly which gives the room a fresh feel for little outlay
  • You can add a theme to the space

There are ENDLESS ways to style a tray like this, and so I had a play with mine to give you some ideas – and I based my looks on the seasons….

Related: How To Decorate A Coffee Table [So It’s Stylish AND Useful]

tray on ottoman with daffodils and orchid on top

This is a look I’d use for Spring.

It’s got the lighter tray that brightens the room up well, and some Spring flowers.

What I really like is the box because it’s a lovely box I got a candle in that’s been re-used to store the remote controls.

The perfect way to store them but keeping them really handy!

TIP – You could use a vase that’s coloured and/or textured to add even more interest to your scheme as well!

living room with ottoman and tray on top with daffodils and remotes in a basket

Another lovely Spring look – keeping the daffodils as the touch of greenery, and using more books.

This time I’ve contained the remotes in a small basket so that they are visible but still grouped together well which makes for a lot less cluttered look!.

The next picture is the same style but from above…

living room tray from overhead

NOTE – I’ve added what I call “coffee table books” for this look. These are books that are interesting to read when you have a few minutes, and would be good for guests to read as well. I like to change these as the seasons change – so you can see at the moment (Spring) I’m concentrating on books about walking, and cities to visit.

the top of an ottoman with trays on top containing flowers, books and candles.

Now we’re on to Summer!

This is a more casual look, with a few trays being used.

I like this idea because I can use whatever smaller trays I find around the house to create a lovely scheme.

The other thing I like about this look is that the books are on the ottoman itself, which works really well.

The following pictures shows this from above: –

overhead shot of an ottoman with trays and accessories on it

The next look is something I’d use around Autumn time.

The plant is actually artificial as the light in the room isn’t fantastic when Autumn comes around – so it’s a great way to still have some greenery in the scheme.

I’ve kept this very minimal, and used the box to hide the remotes again, but this time I’ve used mirrored glass for coasters as this will help to brighten up the room a little.

Living room with greenery and tray on ottoman

Last, but definitely not least, is my take on a Winter look.

I LOVE getting cosy on winter evenings, and so having a huge collection of candles would be amazing to warm up the room!.

I’ve still added some greenery with a small cactus for some texture, and added a small textured tray onto the larger one for interest etc… – but the main focus in most definitely candles!

Living room tray on ottoman filled with candles

TIP – Using a variety of candle holders will work really well for height and texture. Always make sure that you get a good view of the items from all the way around, because there’s nothing worse than sitting on one side of the ottoman and getting the back of something!

TIP – a current favourite look is copper – so these small trays would be perfect to add this look into the styling with ease.

Simple Ottoman Tray Styling Tips To Remember

I hope these looks have given you some inspiration to try it out for yourself.

As extra help – here are the tricks to remember to create a style that you love, and that works well: –

#1 – Add some freshness / greenery (it can be artificial if there isn’t enough light in the room for real plants to flourish).

#2 – Add things of differing heights (but make sure you can still see each other in the room – and the TV!). Stack items to create height i.e books with an object on top

#3 – Leave some space for putting cups/glasses down. Also leave some space around the tray if you like to also put your feet up on the ottoman when relaxing (that way you don’t have to move the tray every time).

#4 – Add storage for things like remote controls to keep them contained and accessible

#5 – Add some interesting objects to make it nice to look at

Related: Why Grouping In Odd Numbers Works So Well In Home Décor

#6 – Think about colours, textures and patterns

#7 – Think about light and warmth – add candles

#8 – Don’t overfill it – less is more

#9 – You could offset the tray on the ottoman to give you space to put your feet up while the tray is on there as well – or for added style.

#10 – You could use the tray on part of the ottoman, and then have items on the ottoman itself (larger books work well for this)

#11 – Don’t let it become a clutter magnet!

Ottoman tray styled with accessories - with post title wording overlay

I really hope this has given you some ideas for your own living room.

It truly is such a useful and beautiful item in our home – so many uses, and so much fun to style, you’ll never run out of ideas.

Plus, it’s a great way to change the look of your room without having to spend a fortune.

Are you tempted to try an ottoman tray on your ottoman or footstool now? Do you already have one? I’d love to know more, so please share your thoughts in the comments below…


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This article was written by Chrissy

Hi - I'm Chrissy... Having run my own business for 12 years as a Professional Organiser and Interior Designer, I know what works (and what doesn't!) when it comes to setting up a home that works both functionally and aesthetically. Now you can mostly find me in a coffee shop or at home, working full time on (which I setup back in 2011) sharing all my tips and ideas. My mission is to help you create a home that you love to live in every day...


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