It's a lesser-known music industry fact that R'n'B artists in the US love to sing about furniture. Chief among these homely homies is En-Vogue, who, with fellow mattress-mad musicians Salt’n’Pepa, raved about their favourite bed style back in 1993, with the memorable lyrics Ottoman, Ottoman, Ottoman, ottomightygoodman.
Of course, UK bands like Divan Divan and The Futons like bed songs too, but what was it about this variety of bed that got those US soulsters so excited they just had to burst into song? Well, we'll find out. We'll peel the covers back and give the mattress a prod. We may even plump up the pillows. One thing's for sure: by the end of this, you'll not be caught napping when it comes to knowing about Ottomans.
Ottoman beds - the lowdown
You might be thinking to yourself - an article about beds: what a snooze. But, hold on there, Mr Van Winkle - there are things to know about ottoman beds that will make you wake up and smell the morning coffee.
First, an Ottoman is a stylish bed made principally for comfort, with a sprung slatted mattress base for some seriously sound sleep. However, the remarkable thing about this bedroom furniture is that it features a storage bed frame. You can fit a colossal cornucopia of collateral within the bed base, and nobody need know anything about it. Beneath, it's all going on. Above, all is calm, making an ottoman like the swan of the bed world.
With assistance from hydraulic pistons, you can lift the mattress easily and quickly, all the better to stuff a stray sock in or retrieve a rollicking read from, then shut the bed again, all before anybody sees what's going on in there. All the clutter once crammed on and under bedside tables can now take its gloriously tidy place under the mattress.
It’s a multipurpose marvel. In fact, until the day gadget boffins invent a Teasmade that also bakes fresh cookies, there will remain nothing in the bedroom to match it for versatility.
Depending on the model, the mattress can hinge either for end access (the end lift Ottoman bed) or side access (the - you guessed it - side lift Ottoman bed). They're available in various sizes, too, from single up to a super king. So you can be sure that you can find an Ottoman that suits the space and layout of your bedroom.
Buying an Ottoman bed will help bring even the messiest bedroom under control. It's a decision you'll never regret. And there's no need to sleep on it.
A little history
OK, time for some background. Are you lying comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
The word Ottoman comes from the Ottoman Empire, from the region now known as Turkiye. It turns out that the Asia Minor of antiquity was full of space-saving and ingenious furniture items. Nothing delighted a Sultan more than a dual-purpose stool to pop his exalted feet upon, which could store all his treasured knickknacks away from prying eyes.
This super-stool stomped its way across Europe in the 18th century, making its way into stylish salons galore and generally getting a name for itself among the lofted feet of the great and the good.
The idea spread to this country, and by the Victorian era, we were "ottomaniacs," with the feet of every mutton-chopped gentlechap enjoying cushioned bliss from Stornaway to the Solent. A soupcon of imagination - combined with a splash of hydraulics - later, and someone applied the recipe to the bed, bringing us up to date.
Who uses an ottoman bed?
An ottoman bed is for anybody pursuing that magic solution to the age-old problem of wanting, on the one hand, a life that looks full of nothing but clean lines and uncluttered planes. But on the other, wanting a life that's chocka with possessions.
Because, let's face it, it's just super cool characters from pop videos who can live such impossibly minimalist lives. The rest of us need our stuff. But this stuff needs to go somewhere.
We don’t want our belongings strewn all over the floor. And we don’t necessarily have a loft to stuff stuff up. So we need a layer that's not exactly on show and not exactly remote. Neatly stowed under the bed is the perfect place to put those things you might need to lay your hands on, but not necessarily right now.
So, it's stylish storers that use Ottomans. It's also people for whom space is perhaps a little limited. An Ottoman is also brilliant if mobility issues prevent you from quickly accessing the loft or the basement. In truth, many of us might find our lives are much better with an Ottoman bed.
What sizes of Ottoman beds are there?
OK, so we've mentioned the side and end hoist varieties. We'll now turn to the different sizes. Whether you want a velvet, faux leather or fabric Ottoman bed, there's a whole spectrum of sizes of Ottoman to choose from at Bensons for Beds.
Single ottoman bed
For grandchildren, devout singletons, or people who don't want to be disturbed, you can't beat a single Ottoman bed. They combine the practical benefit of a trim size with the extensive storage that is an Ottoman bed's middle name.
For instance, the Alexis Ottoman Upholstered Bed Frame in single size is a modest 97.5cm wide and 205cm long, compact enough to fit most small bedrooms. But it still offers storage to savour. The Alexis is a good-looking option, too, with its plush velvet fabric and dark wooden feet. Like all the beds mentioned here, it boasts a 5-year (over 1800 sleeps!) guarantee.
Small double Ottoman bed
This one's great for first-home buyers, for whom spending power might be as constrained as the dimensions of the smaller bedrooms they tend to have. It's also an excellent expansive option for the single sleeper who likes to stretch out like a supremely supine Sultan. And it's also a terrific choice for a cuddly couple.
The small double Anya Wooden Ottoman Bed Frame is an excellent example of what's possible. Plenty of storage space is available, but the overall dimensions are tastefully restrained, with a width of only 113cm and a length of 203.5cm. This bed has a lovely wooden vibe, with the base made from ash and ash veneer. The headboard is finished in sumptuous premium velvet for comfort and style.
Double Ottoman bed
And so to the double, the unsung bedroom workhorse in bedrooms up and down the land. While its position at the top of the bed league has long been challenged by the likes of the king and super king, doubles are a favourite for many. They get the job done in a solid and unshowy way. However, that's not to say you can't dose up your double with a bit of Ottoman pzazz.
Take the gloriously named Snooze Nocturne Ottoman Bed Frame. There aren’t many beds that have such a helpful moniker. Not only does this one tell you what you should be doing on it, but it also gives an excellent pointer to the recommended period for such activity. Not since the Hotnosh Mealtime 5000 oven has there been such a boon to the busy householder who doesn’t have time to figure out for themselves what on earth an item could be for.
This bed is a looker, available in nine nicely subtle shades and a choice of velvet or woven fabrics. Size-wise, it's a decent 210cm long by 138cm wide, and it has beautiful, walnut-effect feet.
King size Ottoman bed
The king size bed almost certainly got its name from when Elvis declared that he needed a bigger bed than the one Priscilla had bought from Memphis Beds. He declared that he required a little less conversation and a little more mattress please, saying it's now or never, leaving the erstwhile Miss Beaulieu all shook up and no mistake.
So, we have the bequiffed balladeer to thank for this larger bed style… maybe. In any case, the king size bed has proven itself a firm (or soft, or medium) favourite with people worldwide. And when you have the expanded dimensions of a king size combined with the features of an ottoman, you've got storage for all the tassled jumpsuits and jars of peanut butter and jelly you've got.
Take the Fitzgerald Upholstered Ottoman Bed Frame. It's a showstopper, with a width of 163cm and a length of 219cm, and a very distinctive art deco style headboard (hence Fitzgerald, as in F Scott. Not Tara.) all wrapped up in positively decadent velvet Impossible to ignore, Jay Gatsby would have loved it.
Super king size Ottoman bed
There are always those for whom enormous isn’t enough. Those who want to push the envelope. Those for whom the idea of less is more is a hilarious gag. This is why the super king size bed was invented.
Super king is the last word in luxurious extra room for worn-out limbs. The kind of somnolent stretch scope that tired legs dream of. Here's an example: the Penelope Upholstered Ottoman Bed Frame. Coming in at an astonishing 197.4cm wide and a majestic 239.6cm long, this bed's total area is on the verge of being measured in acres.
If Grandpa Joe wanted something to spend his Wonka wonga on, this beauty is more than bed enough to accommodate him and all the grandparent gang, with room for Charlie and an Oompa Loompa or two.
Other varieties of Ottoman bed
So, that's sizes covered. What else can an ottoman bed give you to make your sleeping space perfect? Well, to continue the Roald Dahl references, this next feature would make Mike TeaVee throw his remote in the air with glee. It’s a TV that ascends from out of the board at the bottom of the bed. Wowzers.
With a sleigh bed like the Esther Ottoman TV Bed Frame, you're taking the storage bed to a new level because it accommodates much more entertainment than many beds witness (certainly in this writer's experience).
Some models even take the excitement up a notch further with surround sound, the speakers being mounted both in the front and the headboards. The next step is beds that shake to coincide with the film. The whoosh as Augustus Gloop goes up the chocolate pipe would be enough to throw you out of bed.
What can an Ottoman bed do for you?
We all want to be sure of a sound sleep. So to have this delivered in the same unit as the solution to your storage needs is special. What's more, they come in a vast range of options. For example, we've seen an Ottoman storage bed for every bedroom with every decor, with a choice of side opening or end opening to maximise the bed’s practicality.
So, whether yours is a beautifully bijou boudoir with a rustic theme or a positively palatial bedchamber bedecked in velvet and the size of the Royal Albert Hall, you'll find the perfect Ottoman for the job.
Of course, there are always gripers. Take The Pointer Sisters, who found their Ottoman bed very tricky to handle. No way to control it; it's totally ottomanic they shrieked as they struggled with the opening mechanism. They were probably saddled with an inferior bed. They should have gone to Bensons for Beds.
You, however, will find no such hassle. A quality ottoman is simplicity itself. It’s where utility and beauty meet. It’s a bed dreams are made on.