Colour of the moment - Terracotta

With Autumn just around the corner, warmer colours are coming back on everyone's design palettes, be that on feature walls or accessories. One of these colours, is terracotta which is one of the hot colours for interior design in 2017. Its origins are in clay (the latin for baked earth or clay is terra-cocta) which has a deep burnt orange/brown colour. The colour is ingrained in our DNA; some of the the first interiors created by man (yes, caves!) still have paintings in this colour, which has been used for thousands of years to paint homes, inside and out.

The home of Georgia O'Keefe in Abiquiu. Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Fireproof by nature, terracotta has long been used on floor and roof tiles. See the beautiful villages around Sienna in Tuscany (Italy) that use this traditional material. It's strong and can be moulded to any shape - which also explains its wide use in pottery and sculpture.


One good reason why the colour is having a comeback is the increase in products that are handcrafted. Beautiful earthenware like this Sue Pryke jug range which is glazed inside with a white tin glaze and unglazed outside to contrast the earthy colour of the red clay (see the full range here) are popular with not just consumers but with interiors brands too.

We often see these products used in photoshoots. Similar to Sue Pryke's half glazed style is Nick Fraser's Geometric Terracotta series (trio of small pendants shown below, photography Nick Fraser Design) which includes pendant shade, vases and pots.

Another beautiful brand to know is Chloe Burke (see below), you can find her on The Future Kept. Chloe lives on an island off the English coast, in the Undercliff on the Isle of Wight, on one of the largest areas of urban landslip in Europe. Her practice examines her journey from the Undercliffs to the studio. It embodies the coastline, from its vast minerals to the roll of the shoreline and the changing cliff face.

Terracotta gets its distinctive reddish hue from the amount of iron that it has which reacts to oxygen. It can have many different hues - from the orange red that we mostly know it for, to a peachy colour, pink, brown and even grey. Below: Anthropologie ceramics in a peach/orange glazing.


We have Cole & Son mostly to thank for capturing this hot colour in its latest collection - and specifically their Ardmore collaboration that was launched in February 2017. They invariably call the colour burnt orange or tan but at the end of the day, what you get is still terracotta effect colour ways.

Below: Narina by Cole and Son in Burnt Orange. This wallpaper shares its name with the beautiful Narina Trogan Bird, native to Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. You can find it here.

Nalina wallpaper in a living room in burnt orange by Cole and Son

Inspired by the charmingly naiive patterning of giraffe spots created by young Ardmore artist Senzo Duma, the Cole & Son Senzo Spot wallpaper re-creates the age-old small scale animal print as a smart semi-plain wallpaper. Although up close it is not painted in terracotta the effect from afar is one and the same. Shown in Leopard orange and black. Find it here.

Named after one of Ardmore’s finest designers, Jabu Nene, this design takes its inspiration from the wonderfully sculptural rhino hand coiled vessels, created by sculptor Somandla Ntshanlintshali. These pots are then intricately painted in eye dazzling colours and patterns by Jabu Nene herself and now form a part of Ardmore’s most well loved signature styles. Jabu wallpaper in Tan, Cole & Son.

Jabu wallpaper in a hallway in Tan by Cole and Son.

Below: Patinated Copper wallpaper from the Eco Wallpaper Eco Mix Metallic Wallpaper Collection.

Patinated Copper wallpaper from Eco Wallpaper

Exuberance in tangerine/ sepia from the Harlequin Standing Ovation Wallpaper Collection

Exuberance wallpaper in tangerine/ sepia from Harlequin

This design combines antiques, art and recovered chairs with bold fabric. Interior Design by Blair Clarke and photography by Brittany Ambridge. For a similar wallpaper try the Astral in Copper from the Jane Churchill Atmosphere Wallpaper Volume II Collection.

Terracotta Astral wallpaper in Copper from the Jane Churchill Atmosphere Wallpaper Volume II Collection

If you are a fan of florals, try the Pom Pom in burnt orange from the Sophie Conran Selections Wallpaper Collection.

Pom Pom in burnt orange from the Sophie Conran Selections Wallpaper Collection


Designers of the moment, Dimore Studio, have used terracotta hues in Casa Fayette in Guadalajara, Mexico (photography by Adam Wiseman). Inspired by local tradition (orange and pink are super hot in Mexico), this colour is perfect indoors, balancing the light. For a similar colour try Copper Blush (Colour of the Year 2015) or Burnt Autumn 3, both by Dulux.

The designer behind the PRADA stores, Roberto Baciocchi also uses this colour in his home , an ancient mill in the town of Arezzo in Italy (a place which Dante Algieri described in his Divine Comedy). Photography by Simon Watson for Times Magazine.

Farrow and Ball have two colours in this hue, one is Red Earth, a light terracotta hue taking its name from the very soil beneath our feet. It is a rich blend of red and yellow pigments which create a warm earthy feel in homes both old and new. The second colour is Book Room Red, but this comes out a lot more red than it appears on the Farrow & Ball website.

As always, if the colour is too intense to apply on an entire wall, you can always try the colour blocking trick of applying it low around the room like it's done below. The lower colour is Red Earth and just above it is Nancy's Blushes. This photo is by Farrow & Ball and Ramacieri Soligo.