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Ottoman beds explained: Everything you need to know

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An ottoman bed is a good option if you need extra bedroom space. The base lifts from the end or the side, providing access to one or more hidden compartments underneath for storage.

An ottoman bed is a good option if you need extra bedroom space. The base lifts from the end or the side, providing access to one or more hidden compartments underneath for storage. With plenty of room inside for bedding, clothes, shoes, books, or other light items, an ottoman bed will help keep your bedroom organised and clutter-free.

Most ottoman beds use gas pistons and struts (similar to a car boot) to help lift the bed. The mechanical assistance makes lifting and lowering the bed much easier while keeping physical effort to a minimum. There is usually a loop handle or strap that you can use to raise or lower the base. However, some beds may have a small cut-away section in the base for handling instead.

Ottoman beds come in various styles and designs, which work well in traditional and modern interiors. Whether you’re looking for a minimal platform bed or an elegant bed frame with button tufting, there are plenty of options to suit your budget and taste.

happy young man lifting ottoman bed in showroom

Divan or bed frame

Ottoman beds are available as divans or bed frames. A divan ottoman is an upholstered box with a lift-up top. It can usually be covered in a wide range of fabrics or leathers. Many divans come with a choice of headboards and bed accessories in matching colours to coordinate the look. Besides single sizes, divan bases come in two sections to allow easier access to the room.

Bed frames also referred to as bedsteads, are available in wood, metal, fabric, and leather and often come with a range of matching bedroom furniture, such as bedside cabinets. As the mattress sits inside the frame, bed frames typically take up more room space than a divan.

Is a side or end ottoman bed better?

Choosing an ottoman that opens from the side or the end depends on your bedroom configuration.

An ottoman that opens from the side works well in smaller bedrooms or where only one side of the bed is accessible. An ottoman that opens from the foot-end provides easy access to your storage from both sides.

A half-lift ottoman, where only one part of the bed base lifts, is ideal for rooms with low or slanted ceilings.


There are two types of bases that are commonly used with ottoman beds, a slatted base, or a solid base, which is sometimes referred to as a platform top. When pairing a mattress with a bed base, it is important to ensure the two are suitable for use together, especially if you’re buying both separately.

With a slatted base, the slats will be either sprung or solid. Sprung slats work with the mattress providing extra cushioning. Solid slats provide a slightly firmer feel. There is no give from solid slats leaving the mattress to do all the work.

You should also ensure that if the mattress is placed on a slatted base, the gap between the slats does not exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations. Generally, the gap between the slats should be no more than 7.5 cm apart. Each manufacturer should provide guidance on slat spacing.

Your mattress should also be placed on a well-ventilated bed base that allows air to circulate underneath, preventing moisture from accumulating. Most ottoman bases should allow good air circulation, but it may be worth checking this with the retailer or manufacturer before you buy.

grey ottoman bed with panels showing lift storage space underneath
Grey ottoman bed with panels

Ottoman bed sizes

Ottoman beds are usually available in standard UK bed sizes, as shown in the table below:

 Imperial sizeMetric size
Single3’0” x 6’3”90 cm x 190 cm
Double4’6” x 6’3”135 cm x 190 cm
King size5’0” x 6’6”150 cm x 200 cm
Super king size6’0” x 6’6”180 cm x 200 cm

Some manufacturers may also offer a bespoke service where they can make an ottoman bed in a custom size.

Are ottoman beds heavy?

Though ottoman beds use gas pistons and struts to help with lifting, some people may still find them heavy and difficult to handle, especially when paired with a quality mattress.

If you have any concerns, a standard divan bed with drawers may be a more suitable option. Divans are a popular base style, most are fitted with castors so the bed can easily be moved if required. Divans with drawers typically provide less storage space than an ottoman. You will also need to allow more bedroom space to open and close the drawers.

If you have space at the end of the bed, you could pair a divan with a blanket box for extra storage.

Can any mattress be used with an ottoman bed?

Mattresses are usually sold separately from the bed base. When pairing a mattress with a bed base, it is vital to ensure the two are compatible. Most mattresses should be suitable for an ottoman base, but keep in mind that the mattress will rest on a slatted or solid foundation and do most, if not all, of the work. So you may want to consider upgrading to a better-quality mattress.

You will need to check the ottoman bed’s weight capacity before considering which mattress you will pair it with. Most manufacturers should specify a maximum mattress weight for their ottoman beds. The mechanism can be difficult to handle if the mattress is too heavy. Furthermore, the base could drop unexpectedly, damaging the components and potentially causing an injury. Also, consider how the combined weight of the mattress and the ottoman will affect how easily you can lift and lower the base.

On the other hand, if the mattress is too light, the mechanism could lift faster than expected. Another issue with placing a lighter mattress on an ottoman base is that the mattress may slip or slide if there is little or no traction when the mechanism is lifted. However, to prevent this, some ottoman bases are upholstered with a non-slip material.

When choosing a mattress for an ottoman bed, consider who it is for and how often it will be used. Ottoman beds are generally not suitable for young children. However, if the bed is for regular adult use, you should consider a pocket spring, latex, or memory foam mattress. Hybrid models are also popular, which combine springs and foam.

Are ottoman beds comfortable?

Comfort is, of course, subjective. What one person finds comfortable another may find too firm or soft. While the base provides the underlying support, it’s the mattress that provides comfort.

You should not compromise on mattress quality. Like most things, you generally get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap mattress, do not expect it to provide the comfort you need.

It would help if you spent the time researching different mattresses. If you get the opportunity, visit your local store to test mattresses. Otherwise, many online retailers offer sleep trials that allow you to use the mattress and send it back if you find it uncomfortable after a reasonable amount of time.

cream ottoman bed frame
Cream ottoman bed frame

Do ottoman beds need a headboard?

Headboards are usually sold separately from the bed unless you buy a bed frame, which usually includes the headboard. Though it is not absolutely necessary to use a headboard with an ottoman bed, there are plenty of good reasons to have one.

A stunning focal point for any bedroom, headboards come in various designs and styles to suit any décor. Some headboards and divans come in matching colours if you prefer to coordinate the look. A well-designed headboard will also allow you to sit up comfortably in bed.

A headboard also stops the mattress from sliding. It also prevents the pillows from falling behind the bed when the base is lifted. However, you will want to avoid a headboard design that presses against the mattress or interferes with raising the bed.

Is it difficult to assemble an ottoman bed?

Assembling an ottoman bed can take between twenty minutes to an hour, depending on the design. Ottoman beds should come with instructions and usually require two people to assemble.

A divan bed will typically come in two sections for double sizes and above. You can join the bases with the clipping bars or U-clips provided.

Bed frames come in several sections, typically a headboard, footboard, side rails, and a slatted support system and usually take longer to build.

Fixing the mechanism to the bed base and the lid tends to be the most challenging step. However, some divans may come with the mechanism already fitted to allow for easier assembly.

If you have concerns about building the bed, some retailers and manufacturers provide an assembly service for an additional fee. So it’s worth checking this before you buy.

Final thoughts

Ottoman beds provide a generous amount of under-bed storage, making them ideal for bedrooms with limited storage space. Though ottoman beds come with mechanical assistance, some people may find them heavy or difficult to handle. It’s also crucial that the base and mattress are suitable for use together and that the mattress does not exceed the maximum weight limit for the bed base.

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About the author

Tony Brown is the founder and creator of The Bed Consultant. His career in the bed industry began in 2002. After graduating from university with a degree in Business Administration, Tony joined one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the UK as a bed consultant. Tony has helped thousands of customers find the perfect mattress.

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