Terra cotta – the two Italian words literally mean ‘baked earth’ – and it’s the grounded earthiness of this hard-wearing clay that has seen it transcend centuries to remain in style.
With matte and satine finishes already taking over from shiny metallics, we’re calling it: Terracotta is ready to shake off its ‘70s and ‘80s associations to stage a genuine comeback – not that it ever reallyleft us.
Here are four new, and not so new, ideas for incorporating the storied, textured finishes of terraccotta into your home.
1. The modern take
Terracotta may have started out in the terraces of Italian palazzos and the kitchens of rustic French farmhouses, but that’s not to say it looks out of place in a contemporary context.
UK designer Nick Fraser makes striking geometric pendant lights from the most traditional material you can muster – terracotta. Using 3D-printing technology to achieve a crisp, clean finish, the assymetrical forms are then slip cast, hand finished and glazed.
Fraser’s preference for the natural material comes from a desire to challenge our perception of its use – “the asymmetrical multi-faceted designs catch the light and shade beautifully on the two contrasting surface textures,” he says.
2. Keep it classic
The ‘80s may not quite be considered a classic era in design yet, but enough time has passed for some of those lingering styles to swing back into fashion – and the terracotta tile is one of them.
Terracotta-tiled flooring in this Madrid kitchen is brought up to date with crisp white joinery and details, which balances out the rusticity of the earth-toned floor.
TIP: Terracotta can be porous, so protect your tiles from moisture with a high-quality sealant to ensure they don’t get damaged.
3. All potted up
Yup, you can pick them up from Bunnings for less than $10, making terracotta pots your cheapest entry-level ticket into the look.
For a slightly more upgraded design element, we love these handmade terracotta planters, built specifically for macramé hangers. They’d look great hung inside or outdoors, imbuing a balcony or indoor terrace with natural, earthy vibes.
4. Take it outside
Natural stone pavers – while they can be pricey – are the best way to elevate your patio or outdoor terrace beyond its simple brick-paved or concrete past. Terracotta tiles, with their ‘been there for years’ look and intriguing variations in texture, can be a fantastic choice for high-traffic outdoor spaces.
This suburban oasis in Melbourne uses Antico Luce terracotta pavers from Eco Outdoor, which have been handcrafted and kiln-fired using traditional techniques to achieve that lived-in look.
TIP: Continue the same tile from your outdoor space into your home to offer a seamless blend between the internal living spaces and the garden.