Published on July 9, 2020

Over the past few years, terracotta planters, lighting, dinnerware, candleholders, and even small stools have flown off the shelves. It’s understandable: The material makes our homes feel like mini vacations, transporting us to a Southwestern desert escape or a villa on the Italian coast. But until recently, it was most often used as an accent. Not anymore.

Terracotta floors may have once been relegated to faux Mediterranean kitchens complete with ornate wood cabinetry and wrought-iron chandeliers, but if the rooms below are any indication, they’re now a surface of choice for modern spaces. 

The Tonal Approach

Pale wood kitchen with terracotta floorsPin It
Photography by Amelia Stanwix; Design, styling, and architecture by Georgia Ezra

Interior designer Georgia Ezra is also the owner of Tiles of Ezra, so it’s only natural that she would take extra care in choosing the floors for her Melbourne kitchen. She landed on a Moroccan zellige in traditional octagons, which she paired with tone-on-tone grasscloth-and-timber cupboards to create an earthy, serene room.

The Punchy Country Charm

Kitchen with green-and-white backsplash and terracotta floorsPin It
Photography and Design by Nicole Cohen

In this beachy New Jersey remodel, designer Nicole Cohen mixed handmade hexagons with a green-and-white–checkered backsplash and a butcher block countertop. The quaint surfaces feel fresh thanks to simple white IKEA cabinets and cone-shaped island pendant lamps. 

The Vintage Statement

Pierre Frey's Normandy house with terracotta floorsPin It
Courtesy of Soho Home

Pierre Frey’s weekend retreat in Normandy, France, is 170 years old, so antique terracotta tiles and original wood beams do much of the work in making the place feel storied and warm. But the textile designer knew that layering in graphic fabrics and contemporary art would give it a welcome 21st-century flair. For him, it’s all about that mix of old and new.

The Timeless Space

Laundry room with with terracotta floorsPin It
Photography by Samuel Sachs Morgan; Design by Gerry Smith Architect

In this Brooklyn laundry room, architect Gerry Smith used antique French Ann Sacks tiles with other classics: a contemporary black phyllite stone (a cousin to soapstone) countertop, cabinets painted in Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal, and brass hardware. Even though the renovation is recent, the space looks like it’s been there for decades.

The Dark Side

Dark kitchen with terracotta floorsPin It
Photography by Shade Degges; Design by Ashe + Leandro
Breakfast nook with terracotta floorsPin It
Photography by Shade Degges; Design by Ashe + Leandro

Design duo Ashe + Leandro picked a similarly dark theme in Seth Meyers’s Manhattan duplex, combining terracotta with soapstone counters and cupboards in Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black. The floors continue into the airier breakfast area, which is dotted with mid-century furniture and a large oil painting. The result: an apartment that feels miles away from New York City.

The Classic Contrast

White kitchen with terracotta floorsPin It
Courtesy of DeVol

DeVol is biased when it comes to terracotta tile—the British cabinetmaker has used the material in multiple projects, including this bright kitchen. A more traditional darker, glossier tile is a welcome juxtaposition to the light and airy details.

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