A few updates on the remodel: I DID of course get the kitchen and the rest of the house cleaned up, and it didn't even take a year. It just felt like it. Then I quickly got a picture of the view from den to kitchen before anyone came along and messed up the acceptably tidy vision you see here:
Alas, a sassy three year old managed to find her way into the shot. Three year old then helped me demonstrate these lovely new (to us) ottomans/coffee tables/storage units which my parents handed down in lieu of our wobbly glass topped coffee table.
I'm really quite in love with these... things. I don't know where my parents got them originally, but if you're unhappy with your current coffee table (glass needs wiped on an HOURLY basis, for example) or your den needs more storage space or you sometimes wish for a footrest near your sofa, then LOOK NO FURTHER.
The tray tops flip to convert to a micro suede ottoman, and inside is roomy storage (we are using one for balls and the other for spare towels which we use to wipe our dog's muddy paws off when he returns from the backyard- these towels' previous location was "thrown somewhere on the floor by the door.") They are sturdy, but are not difficult to move around, so you can pull them up closer than a coffee table would normally be. You can also easily move them into another room for vacuuming. The... things also work well as extra seating in a pinch, at least for small kids who aren't worried about lumbar support.
Just don't try to figure out what they're called. Stools? Footrests? Large fabric covered boxes? Help me out here. (And also, try to avert your eyes from that mystery spot on the sofa cushion in photo #3. Yikes. I hope that's just weird lighting.)