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Hassock vs Ottoman vs Pouf vs Footstool: What Are the Differences?

A collage of various footstools.

This article splits hairs. The fact is many people call a hassock an ottoman and perhaps vice versa. Poufs are much less popular type of footstool furniture, but definitely more distinct. The term footstool is applied to ottomans, hassocks and pouts.

However, if you’re a stickler for detail and like to know precisely what makes an ottoman an ottoman or distinguishes an ottoman from a hassock from a pouf from a footstool, you’re in the right place. While there is some crossover, there are defining differences.


Woman sitting on a lounge chair with footstool.

A footstool, like all items discussed in this article, is a piece of furniture designed to put your feet up for greater comfort. It’s usually placed in front of a chair or sofa in a living space such as living room, family room or in a sitting area in a bedroom.

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We kick off our comparison of a hassock, ottoman, pouf and footstool because the footstool is the umbrella term under which the other three fall. In other words, a hassock, ottoman and pouf are all slightly different forms of footstools.

There is one kind of footstool that is not categorized as any of the others and that is a footstool with no upholstery. For example, an all wood footstool is only a footstool. The reason for this is that a hassock and ottoman are upholstered.

A pouf is a large dense all-fabric footstool. It’s rare, though, to find any type of footstool with no upholstery.


Yellow hassock over a brown rug.

Definition:  “a padded cushion or low stool that serves as a seat or leg rest” [Merriam Webster].

A hassock is an upholstered footstool. It has no storage (when it has storage, it’s an ottoman). Hassocks can be large or small. They can have legs or no legs. It can also be very simple such as a cushion for kneeling.


  • Usually quite a bit lighter in weight than a loaded down, large ottoman so they’re easier to move around the room to different seats.
  • The smaller size of the hassock means that you can easily incorporate it into the floorplan of your room without worrying about taking up too much space or the piece of furniture being visually bulky and unappealing.
  • Hassocks often come in bright colors and patterns that can add a touch of drama and some flair to your home, making them ideal in a house that is more neutral and needs to be brightened up.
  • They work perfectly as a side table by your sofa or chair if you need somewhere to put a drink, magazine, or your phone and can be easily move around to where you need them to be.


  • Not storage.
  • Typically not large enough or high enough to double as a backless seat or coffee table.
  • Hassocks don’t generally come as part of a set with a matching chair, which can make it very difficult to achieve a cohesive look in your living room. While this may appeal to some people, others will not like trying to complement the colors in this piece of furniture.
  • Not as solid or stable as an ottoman so you may not find it as comfortable.


Gray ottoman

Source: Hayneedle

Definition:  “an upholstered often overstuffed seat or couch usually without a back” | “an overstuffed footstool” [Merriam Webster].

The defining difference of an ottoman vs. a hassock is an ottoman includes some form of storage element. Like the hassock, it must be upholstered (fabric or leather). But it’s more than that… they are also considered a piece of furniture on which you can sit.

Consider the definition above “overstuffed seat or couch usually without a back” makes it clear that it’s a sitting piece as well as a footstool. The storage aspect means that they are typically quite large. They have multiple uses and can be used as a coffee table, stool, or even footstool.

They often come with a coordinating chair, making it very easy for people to ensure a cohesive look in their living room. It’s easy to buy ottomans in different styles and to find ones that have hidden storage inside where you can stash magazines, blankets, books, or remotes.


  • They can store things. We have a large ottoman and love the storage feature.
  • They can serve as additional seating. We use it for sitting often.
  • Because they can be large, you can place large tray son them so they double as a coffee table.
  • You can often buy furniture with a matching ottoman so you have uniformity in your living room furniture decor.
  • You can also buy an ottoman individually.


  • While the corners of the ottoman are soft and upholstered, the legs are usually left as bare wood, which can be very painful if someone runs into them.
  • The only way to put drinks or snacks on the surface is if you use a tray as well to create a completely flat top so that nothing spills.
  • When an ottoman with built-in storage is filled up, it can become very heavy and difficult to move. This means that you may need help moving it around the room and it may even scratch the floor if you are not careful.
  • Depending on how the ottoman is used, the upholstery can wear out very quickly, causing you to have to have it reupholstered.
  • High-quality ottomans will cost significantly more than their less expensive counterparts but it’s important to buy one that will last for a long time or you will be dealing with a piece of furniture that is loose and rocks whenever you try to use it.
  • Not everyone appreciates the matching look that is common with ottomans and chairs and some people prefer to buy chairs without ottomans for this reason.
  • Once you reupholster your ottoman, it will no longer match the chair that you bought it with unless you choose to pay for that work to be completed as well.
  • Large ottomans not only take up a large portion of space in your room but it can be difficult to store them out of the way if you need open floor space.


Round beige pouf footstool

Source: Hayneedle

A pouf is a large, dense cushion big enough to serve as a footstool. They can be round, square or even rectangle.


  • Less expensive than a hassock or ottoman.
  • Lighter so easy to move around.
  • Can look great – more casual.
  • Soft.
  • Can serve as a large pillow.


  • Not as stable as hassock or ottoman.
  • Smaller than most ottomans.
  • Not nearly as nice as a nicely appointed hassock or ottoman.
  • Won’t match your furniture. They are sold separately.

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