Shelter magazines, catalogs, stores — everywhere we look this season, there's some sort of pouf. • While ottomans tend to be more structured, with a solid form and usually some legs, poufs or hassocks are actually just big upholstered cushions, and aren't usually used as tables the way ottomans often are. • But poufs are the perfect squishy footrest, and thus suit family rooms or relaxed living rooms. Easily moved about, they make great extra seating.
With a versatile, portable accessory like this, you can afford to play a little. Look for unusual designs, colorful hues and interesting shapes; poufs add a nice punch to a space for not a lot of money, unless you choose something by a designer.
If you want the genuine Moroccan-made article, check out Tazi Designs and Living Morocco. Tazi has an array of colorful leather poufs with a Moorish motif. A black leather one features white silk stitching; a bronze leather one is equally dramatic. Living Morocco has several striking models in black and red, or green and white. From Morocco With Love has several affordable versions in supple rainbow hues; check out their website for an interesting film showing Fez artisans at work.
Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola has created a beautiful, albeit pricey, collection of sprawl-worthy giant poufs covered in her popular Mangas pattern; the word means "sweater," and with their nubby knitted wool texture, the pieces do look cozy.
Janet Shea, an interior designer in Hanover, Mass., likes the versatility and user-friendliness of poufs. She likes them in a living room, but loves putting them in kids' spaces.
"I've used them in a couple of preteen girls' rooms I've worked on. They're great for lounging, watching TV and playing video games," Shea said. "So much better than sitting on the bed or floor."
Design firm FiveTimesOne has a cool group of felted Merino wool poufs that look like polished travertine, marble and stone pebbles and boulders; in a contemporary space, they'd be standout pieces.
Poufs are great if you've got toddlers — they're cruising-friendly, and fun to flop over. John Derian offers Moroccan poufs in bright hues such as turquoise, sunshine and violet. HomeGoods offers a big comfy marshmallow pouf that's covered in soft candy pink loops — perfect for a girl's room. They've got some snazzy embellished Indian-sari-style poufs, too, that any college girl would love.
Restoration Hardware has a Union Jack upholstered cube pouf that packs a mod graphic punch but would also be at home in a traditional setting.
Some poufs come filled, but you can use just about anything to fill the cover — old clothing, sheets, newspaper or purchased foam trimmed to size.
If you're at all crafty, consider sewing your own. Better Homes and Gardens' website offers step-by-step instructions with material costs of about $50. They used burlap to make the example, which gives the pouf a great textured look. It's not a complex project, so you could have some fun with a few yards of interesting material. Just be sure to use something fairly hard-wearing if your poufs are going to be played with.