Back to Earth: How to Decorate with Terracotta

The earthy tone has shaken off its trad image and is right at home in contemporary rooms, say the experts...

Translated from Italian as ‘baked earth’, terracotta has a warm, organic aura.

Create an energising vibe with impact by painting the walls and woodwork in the same shade. Punctuate the intensity with black accents to ground the look and add a sophisticated finish.

Walls painted in Heat 2994, Jotun. For stockist information, go to jotun.com.

‘For me, terracotta transcends the lifestyle of the Mediterranean,’ says Thomas Griem of TG Studio. ‘If teamed with pastels, I would use a dark terracotta to create a strong base. When using it with bold colours, a very light shade can become the mortar, patching the colours like tiles in a mosaic.’

HOW TO USE TERRACOTTA

THE BEST TERRACOTTA PAINT COLOURS

BEST TERRACOTTA PAINT FOR CREATING A WARM RESTFUL SCHEME

Terracotta Warrior matt emulsion, £42 for 2.5L, Fired Earth.

‘Terracotta works beautifully with soft pinks to add warmth to concrete or Brutalist lines,’ says Russell Whitehead of 2LG Studio. ‘It’s a natural clay, so works with other organic shades, such as sage green. If you’re feeling bold, terracotta looks incredible paired with Yves Klein Blue, which is having a moment.’

BEST TERRACOTTA PAINT FOR SMALL SPACES

Spicy Paprika flat matt emulsion, £29.16 for 2.5L, Dulux.

‘Whites work well with this colour, creating a glamorous, Sixties vibe – especially if you use white walls with a terracotta- coloured floor,’ suggests paint and colour expert Annie Sloan. ‘I also love teaming blue-grey with terracotta; the colours contrast beautifully to create a delicious, juicy contrast.

BEST TERRACOTTA PAINT FOR CO-ORDINATING WITH OTHER SHADES OF TERRACOTTA

Emanuella matt emulsion, £35 for 2.5L, Rockett St George Exclusive Paint Collection.

‘Terracotta can be paired with warm metals to add an extra layer of sophistication, or with pale marbles for a crisp contemporary look,’says Roselind Wilson of Roselind Wilson Design. ‘These striking finishes showcase the versatility of terracotta, adding a sense of depth as well as warmth and character to a space.’

BEST TERRACOTTA PAINT FOR AN AUTHENTIC MEDITERRANEAN FEEL

Flower Pot claypaint, from £43 for 2.5L, Earthborn.

‘In nature, we often see terracotta boldly contrasting with vibrant greens,’ says Jane Rockett, co-founder of Rockett St George. ‘Do this with accents such as houseplants, Tamegroute pottery or a green jute rug– or you could paint your doors and frames in a silky woodland-green tone. The contrast is spectacular and reminds me of the painted buildings in the busy souks of Marrakech.’

BEST TERRACOTTA PAINT FOR USING WITH A NATURAL STONE FIREPLACE

Beetlenut pure flat emulsion, £49.50 for 2.5L, Paint and Paper Library.

‘The palette has moved on from the stippled paint-effect Tuscany style of the Nineties,’ says Tor Vivian of Tor Interiors. ‘Update it with muted colours, such as dove grey, or stronger colours like teal, black and white to create a warm space with graphic accents.’

BEST TERRACOTTA PAINT FOR LIFTING A SHADY ROOM

Heat absolute matt emulsion, £45 for 2.5L, Little Greene.

Use darker shades of terracotta in north-facing interiors and more watered-down versions for south-facing rooms where the light has a chance to reflect back,’ advises Irene Gunter of Gunter & Co Interiors. ‘It’s best to embrace the darkness in north- facing rooms to create cosy, inviting spaces.’

See How to Decorate with Sand, the new neutral. 

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