Give a space a sun-kissed look with terracotta. The earthy hue is as grounding as it is uplifting.
'Terracotta' literally means 'baked earth.' In its material form, terracotta is fired clay commonly used in architectural construction and to make sculptures and pottery. The color terracotta mimics the earthborn material, communicating its earthy richness and humility.
Composed of a mix of orange and brown hues, terracotta has the same sense of enthusiasm and optimism as orange, but it is steadied with brown's grounding and comforting influence. Together, they create a calming, reassuring, and inviting shade that evokes the same sense of safety, familiarity, and coziness as home comforts. Naturally, terracotta glows with the warmth of the Mediterranean, giving it a slightly exotic feel and making it particularly well suited to organic modern, bohemian, and eclectic decor.
What is the Psychology of Terracotta?
Terracotta is often associated with its material counterpart, resembling decorative arts and crafts and its practical use as earthenware, water pipes, and roofing. This, combined with its earthy roots, makes the color a symbol of humility, evoking a sense of stability, security, and peace. The orange undertones afford it an energizing quality that produces positive emotions. This is balanced with brown, a symbol of strength, stability, reliability, integrity, and familiarity, qualities retained by the warm, earthy shade. Terracotta has a distinct grounding, reassuring, and comforting influence, affording it its unwavering popularity.
What are the Best Ways to Use Terracotta in the Home?
Channel the Mediterranean spirit into your living room with pale terracotta walls, rustic wooden furniture, and exotic house plants.
Add a warm, sun-kissed glow to your bathroom with terracotta tiles.
Pair timber furniture with terracotta woven textiles for a chic boho vibe.
Create a cozy retreat with dark terracotta walls in the bedroom.
Make a statement out of architectural features with terracotta window sills and architraves.
What Colors Go with Terracotta?
Terracotta lends a healthy glow to any color palette. However, teamed with contrasting or complementary shades, it can evoke entirely different looks. Here are some of our favorites…
1. Terracotta + Gold
Decorate a bedroom with terracotta and gold and escape to a faraway exotic Mediterranean paradise. Together, the rich hues emulate the warm glow of a sunset, which can't help but nourish the soul. Create an accent wall with gold leaf that shimmers in the light and radiates warmth year-round. Paint the rest of the walls, ceiling, skirting, and doors the same rich terracotta shade for an all-encompassing, cocooning feel. Finally, punctuate the space with black and white accents to create perspective and depth, and add house plants for a final touch of zen.
2. Terracotta + Cream
Pair terracotta with cream for a traditional, country aesthetic. Break up the intensity of terracotta walls with cream wainscoting and soft neutral carpets and rugs. An elegant window treatment and tailored soft furnishings are integral to a cozy country residence. Add textural interest and depth with gentle terracotta and cream-patterned textiles. You could broaden the tonal range with light pink accents and dark wood furniture.
3. Terracotta + Wood Tones
Like terracotta, wood also has a naturally grounding, stabilizing, and calming effect, making it an excellent color palette for a bedroom scheme. Add a refreshing tonal contrast with white accents, such as bed linen, artwork, or other decorative accessories. Maintain the earthy, organic feel of terracotta and wood tones with natural materials, like soft linen and pure cotton. This color palette is a favorite with vintage, boho, or organic modern-style decor.
4. Terracotta + Sky Blue
Challenge the warmth of terracotta with bright sky blue. Blue and orange are complimentary colors on the color wheel, so together, they create a fun and dynamic yet balanced scheme. Sky blue offsets the warm glow of terracotta with its cool and calm composure. Pale shades of blue produce a more casual look, while darker shades, like indigo and navy, create a more formal aesthetic. Break up the color contrast with a neutral, like white, to prevent the scheme from overwhelming the senses.
5. Terracotta + Gray
Bring dimension and warmth to a gray scheme with a splash of terracotta. Here, the terracotta sofa and rug draw the eye into the center of the room, letting the gray walls recede into the background. When pairing terracotta with gray, ensure their undertones are aligned for a seamless look. The color palette is naturally contemporary, and black accents and light wood furniture will reinforce that aesthetic. Introduce dark brown furniture to achieve a more vintage, traditional, or mid-century style.
6. Terracotta + White
Transform a white bathroom into a sun-baked sanctuary with terracotta tiles. The warm, earthy shade infuses the space with a Mediterranean glow, creating a serene oasis and the perfect environment to start and end each day. Meanwhile, white lends a sense of freshness and cleanliness that is fundamental to the room's purpose. Wooden accents and house plants forge a connection with our natural environment, lending a sense of calm as well as a fun, exotic touch.
7. Terracotta + Brown
Terracotta and brown make an incredibly grounding and stabilizing tonal color scheme. Together, they maximize the sense of strength, security, integrity, and comforting familiarity that both colors transmit individually. When decorating with these colors, pay attention to tonal contrast to create a sense of depth and prevent the scheme from falling flat. Here, a light shade of terracotta coats the walls, offset by a dark brown leather couch. A tertiary shade of gray fills the gaps, contributing further neutrality and calm to the space - black and white accents pepper the space for a modern touch.
8. Terracotta + Forest Green
Forest green and terracotta make a compelling color combination. The blue-green tones of forest green and red-orange terracotta shade make them complimentary by definition. The intensity of dark green and the optimistic quality of terracotta strike the perfect balance. Use the 60-30-10 rule with 60% terracotta as the dominant color, followed by 30% of forest green, and a final 10% creamy white to brighten up the palette.
9. Terracotta + Dark Red
Add dark red accents to a terracotta scheme to create a rich and vibrant tonal palette. A symbol of passion, red is an attention-grabbing hue charged with intense emotional energy. Because of this, it is better used in small doses rather than as the dominant color in a scheme. Counterbalance the warm hues with complimentary green accents, such as scatter cushions, artwork, or house plants.
10. Terracotta + Dark Blue
Thanks to terracotta's orange undertones, dark blue and terracotta are a naturally complementary color pair. The orange-brown shade counterbalances the cool blue hue with its warmth, optimism, and high energy, and the tonal contrast creates a satisfying dynamic. Terracotta accents punctuate this blue living room through soft furnishings, adding depth, energy, and interest to the space. Brown furniture and wood textures create the perfect middle ground between the two contrasting hues.
Interesting Facts About the Color Terracotta
The rich, earthy color of terracotta comes from the iron content in clay reacting with oxygen during firing.
Terracotta is commonly associated with Mediterranean and Spanish design.
The earliest use of terracotta goes back as far as 24,000 BC with Palaeolithic terracotta figurines.
The most famous demonstration of terracotta as an art form is China's Terracotta Army, a collection of over 8,000 terracotta soldiers and 520 horses.
Terracotta is used in architectural construction, most commonly in roof tiles and brickwork. It is favored for its durability, low-cost, natural fire retardancy, and rich, earthy color.