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Timeless terracotta trending once again

Experts say you wouldn’t be going out on a limb with terracotta, as it’s proving an increasingly popular choice in paint and decor.
Experts say you wouldn’t be going out on a limb with terracotta, as it’s proving an increasingly popular choice in paint and decor. - Getty Images

Expert tips for blending this cosy, brownish-red tone into your home

Want to plant the idea that your home is warm and inviting? Paint and adorn it in the colour most connoted with planters and pots: terracotta. Experts say you wouldn’t be going out on a limb with this tone, as it’s proving an increasingly popular choice in paint and decor. According to Pinterest, saves for terracotta have gone up 95 percent in the United Kingdom since the start of the year.

What makes terracotta so trendy right now? It’s a happening hue for several reasons, says Nivara Xaykao, colour specialist with Benjamin Moore Paints in Montvale, N.J.

“Terracotta has been a longtime staple in the typical home colour palette, from tiles to bricks. But it looks particularly fresh at the moment. This can be attributed to the popularity of house plants and the resurgence of pottery, clay vases, pots and other vessels as a product category,” Xaykao says.

“The popularity of pink these past few years has paved the way for warm, bold coordinating colours like terracotta. And influences from the American Southwest and the Mediterranean have also been in the air; terracotta immediately conjures radiant, beautifully crafted spaces from those regions.”

Anne Rodriguez, design services expert with Zabitat of Zeeland, Michigan, says many historical architectural styles incorporate terracotta into their primary elements.

“Pueblo-style homes often feature a rich terracotta stucco exterior. And Spanish colonial and Mediterranean-style houses commonly sport terracotta shingles,” says Rodriguez.

Whatever your home’s architectural template, terracotta adds a sense of warmth and a timeless appeal.

“This colour helps creates that genuine feel of cosiness we all crave,” adds Rodriguez. “More muted terracotta tones were trendy back in the 1970s. But I believe we’re seeing a terracotta revival, only with brighter statements incorporating that extra wow factor.”

Terracotta is a hue that harmonizes best with earth tones, but also nicely accents cooler tones like warm grey or blue, notes Julia Ross, senior designer at Southern Studio Interior Design in Cary, N.C.

“Blending terracotta with more earth tones makes this a beautiful colour in spaces like the family room, dining room or even the kitchen,” Ross says. “And blending a range of terracotta tones with a warmer grey or navy is a way to give the colour an updated look while maintaining a classic feel.”

Xaykao suggests that terracotta could look lovely in a kitchen with gold hardware, or as an accent wall to display artwork, textiles, open shelving or a handsome headboard in your master bedroom.

“Take a cue from the fixtures around you. It can be used to evoke materials like wood or leather,” adds Xaykao. “I wouldn’t do a whole room in the colour — especially if it’s a larger room — as the colour needs space to breathe. So mix in some white, neutrals and paler colours.”

Don’t feel confined to stick with neutral tones as a complementary colour, however, particularly when there are abundant light sources in the room.

“Draw inspiration for your palette and go for it, whether you want to create subtlety with a light avocado or go for the gusto with a bright aqua,” says Rodriguez.

Areas this colour may not work as well in are bathrooms and other small spaces, “where terracotta can come across as dark and heavy,” cautions Rodriguez. “I suggest using free online tools and resources, like Pinterest, to help find sources of inspiration.”

Remember: a little bit of terracotta can go a long way.

“If your personal palette is a little more understated or indeterminate, try out the colour in a small or inconspicuous space and go from there,” recommends Xaykao. “But if you like a lot of colour and drama, terracotta might not be too big of a commitment.”

Popular terracotta shades suggested include Benjamin Moore Etruscan AF-355; Sherwin Williams SW7718; Behr Terra Cotta Urn PPU2-12; Pratt and Lambert 1862 Terra Cotta; and Glidden New Terra Cotta 60YR 31-368.

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