9 Terra Cotta Color Ideas That Channel the Best of the Desert With Effortless Cool

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Earthy, warm, and vibrantly defined, terra cotta is as unique a color as they come. Whether it's playing the starring role or merely an accent, it manages to stand out with a grounded and effortless quality. Tonally, it can vary with reddish-brown, rust, or blush — attributes that designate it an all-around adaptable and versatile shade.

As you might have guessed, the color terra cotta is derived from earthenware such as clay pottery — in fact, it actually means "baked earth." A mainstay of the desert, it mimics the warm glow of the sun hitting the sand and the myriad shades found in the sky at dusk. So it goes without saying that we can look to nature when seeking pointers for bringing the hue home. Ahead, discover nine terra cotta color ideas that are truly inspiring and very au courant.

1. Invest in one stand out piece.

The best way to revive a reserved palette grounded in neutrals is with the unexpected addition of a saturated note. Cue this luxe accent chair from Lulu and Georgia, which comes in an inspired terra cotta color that instantly energizes the monochrome scheme. Recreate the look with a loveseat, chaise lounge, or even an ottoman.

Get the look: Lulu and Georgia Pomona Accent Chair, $594

2. Rethink the basics.

Your bathroom deserves more than a dated, plastic shower liner and a color-charged replacement is exactly what we have in mind. Spotted in the home of Quiet Town co-founders Lisa and Michael Fine, the terra cotta color blocked curtain fits right in with the gridded motif throughout the space.

Get the look: Quiet Town Marfa Clay Shower Curtain, $198

3. Go for the unexpected.

Instead of investing in terra cotta color bedding, go for something a bit more unexpected like a bold headboard that shows off the decorative prowess of the hue. Make it all the more impactful with velvet upholstery and a moody backdrop that allows it to shine. This dreamy scene found at the Menorca Experimental Hotel has the right idea.

Get the look: The Inside Art Deco Headboard, $499

4. Put a spin on the classics.

It's time to retire subway tile in favor of a livelier alternative. The terra cotta color backdrop of this warm scene features Clé Tile's signature Zellige, inspired by the Moroccan desert. Not only does it pair well with the marble counters, it also manages to complement the light wood cabinets. If replicating this setup, keep the finishes and surfaces muted for a laidback effect.

Get the look: Clé Tile Natural Zellige Tile, $19.50 per sq. ft.

5. Blend with existing decor.

What makes the color terra cotta so easy to decorate with is its natural ability to blend into just about any space. In a minimalist home that's void of anything too dramatically eye-catching, it's a foolproof addition that can lend a saturated element without overwhelming its surroundings. An accent piece, such as a structural bowl or a table lamp, can speak volumes.

Get the look: SIN Prong Fruit Bowl in Terracotta, $64

6. Establish a focal point.

Follow Sara and Rich Combs' lead and paint the fireplace in a warm terra cotta color, like they did in their newest lodging venture, Posada by Joshua Tree House. Keep the surroundings minimal and neutral to allow the hue to really pop.

Get the look: Farrow & Ball Red Earth Paint

7. Introduce complementary notes.

A palette containing terra cotta, beige, and sage is about as close to perfection as it gets. Inspired by nature, the trio is a staple of the desert, so when it comes to decorating with it at home, there's very little room for error. Take interior designer Amber Lewis' lead and allow the earthy hue to set the groundwork, with the help of a rug, and build on that with off-white furnishings and dark green textiles.

Get the look: Shoppe Amber Interiors Watson Rug, $3,800

8. Ground it for effect.

Terra cotta color flooring can present itself in a wide variety of ways, brick included. But that said, we're definitely partial to a clay tile, especially when it comes paired with soft blush walls. This Insta-perfect shower, captured by Lauren Bamford for Hearth, is a prime example of just how statement-worthy the combo can be.

Get the look: Rustico Tile and Stone Hexagon Super Sealed Saltillo Tile, Contact for Pricing

9. Experiment with art.

Wall art is a great way to play around with a new hue before committing to a more permanent fixture. If you're unsure of how a terra cotta color piece will look in your home, bring in an oversize print (or DIY a piece, if you're up to the challenge) and hang it in a prominent spot to get a true feel for it.

Get the look: fornStudio Terracotta Abstract Lines Art, $6.50


Anna is a New York-based writer and editor with a penchant for travel, design, and interiors.

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