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Color Curation: Terracotta (The Shade You’ll Be Seeing Everywhere)

Photo: Sean Fennessy
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Design: Chelsea Hing

For a long time, terracotta has been most closely associated with ceramics – tile, roofs, and the pots you see lining the shelves of your local nursery. But for 2020, this color is going places its never been before, and making its way into interiors and products in totally new ways. Think of it as terracotta 2.0.

As part of our color curation series, today we’re focusing on this earth shade or reddish orange. From paint to pillows, sofas to sheets, this warm tone is having a big moment in design. And it’s being used in just about every style, whether it’s modern, rustic, boho or organic, to create spaces that feel totally fresh (and far from just floor tile).

So what exactly is terracotta? The name refers to a clay based ceramic (which means baked earth in Italian) that has been used for centuries as a building material. While terracotta is most closely associated with Mediterranean and Spanish design, it’s widely used all over the world for sculptures, serving pieces, vessels and objects. The distinct color comes from the iron content in clay reacting with oxygen during firing, creating the rich, earthy tone. The color itself has some variation, from more red tones, to pale orange, to darker browns, and is composed of 89% red, 45% green and 36% blue, with 70% saturation.

 

 

Recently, terracotta has made its way from ceramics and tile to a much broader range of products, and been popping up in lots of interesting interiors. From modern dining rooms, to bold bathrooms, to kitchens with a kick, keep scrolling to see more of our favorite spaces using this shade, along with our picks for products (and two of our favorite paint colors to capture this tone in your own home).

And if you want to read about more colors we’re crushing on, check out our posts Color Curation: Sacramento Green and  The Earthy Color We’re Fully Embracing.

Terracotta, with its rich and warm tones, can have a grounding and calming effect on an interior. To help bring your space down to earth, try a duvet cover or table lamp in the bedroom, or a cozy lounge chair in the living room.

1. Washed Cotton Duvet Cover Set | 2. Rochelle Swivel Chair | 3. Terracotta Acrylic Double Old-Fashioned Glass | 4. Sherwin Williams Cavern Clay Paint | 5. Mia Ceramic Table Lamp

 

 

For major impact, go for tonal walls and furnishings in this shade. For a more subtle take, try a pillow, side table, or tabletopPainting a wallP with plates and candles.

6. Stassi Side Table | 7. Tiny Taper Candle Set | 8. Terracotta Fringe Throw Pillow | 9. Jung Tee | 10. Madera Terracotta Salad Plate

A terracotta tile floor with a matching paint treatment is an easy way to give a modern twist to this centuries old shade. A saturated sofa can be the focal point in a space, while a planter, art print or vase are simple ways to warm things up.

11. Verla Sofa | 12. Seeded Cylinder Glass Vase | 13. Minimalist Art Print | 14. Hexagon Stoneware Planter | 15. Behr Warm Terracotta Paint

  1. I love terra-cotta. I remember having a terra cotta money bank growing up. It’s enlightening to know how simple things from the past are making a comeback in such a great way. I grew up in a small Pakistani village famous for its pottery making. For me it’s both inspiring and nostalgic at the same time.

    1. What a great connection. I also love when things from the past come back in new and interesting ways. Thanks for reading Asma. -B

  2. Love this color! Just finishing a room with it as an accent color.

    1. I love it too. So warm but also feels very modern. Thanks for reading. -B

  3. How would this color look as a kitchen and laundry room wall color with sage cabinetry? The counters and backsplash are white with a tiny hint of gray but the amount of wall space in the kitchen is very small. The laundry room has more open walls and a white with gray tile floor. Again the laundry has sage cabinets. I shy away from intense colors typically but only because I cannot visualize. Thanks!

    1. I think it might be a bit too overwhelming with sage colored cabinets. I would do white walls and add in terracotta through art, rugs, and ceramic pieces. Thanks for reading. xx -B

    2. Great article! I am agree with you: tarracotta gives the room a warm atmosphere. I have just redecorated my kitchen with terracotta porcelain tiles and it looks great.

  4. Great article! Planning on doing a terracotta accent wall in a dining room with mixed wood toned furniture and bookshelves – do you think a rug in more neutral tones, or a piece that added a pop of color would be best? Don’t want to overdo the “earthiness”…

    1. If you’re doing a terracotta wall, I would stick with a more neutral rug or something with some subtle accent colors as to not overwhelm. Thanks for your comment. xx -B

  5. Hi, I’m curious what terra-cotta colored tile is shown in the photo at the top of the page, middle photo? Thanks.

    1. I didn’t design that space, so I don’t have the info on the exact tile used. But it looks like a 12″ x 24″ option, which you can shop here. xx -B