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50 Shades of Terracotta

We recently ventured to north-west Italy to bask in the final ebbs of the summer sunshine. Many beautiful things link Italy to design, but in terms of colour, terracotta is one of the most recognisable in their colour palette.

The winding cobbled streets of Aosta are full of higgledy-piggledy houses, all leaning in slightly different directions, giving a playful layering effect of facades. 50 shades of terracotta; some faded, some strong, some weathered to a blush-cream hue, but nevertheless a predominant colour that stands proud.

The beautiful word ‘terracotta’ quite literally translates to ‘baked earth’, which encompasses the fact it is unglazed, fired clay in the most beautiful and warming shades. Many of the same earthy tones that are so linked to Italy, remind us of our own work throughout London and New York.

Here at Ham Yard Hotel, the walls of the Drawing Room are lined with a stunning rust linen by Osborne & Little. The contrast of the bright colours in the room brings together a warm and inviting space. The mix of blue and orange from the Swedish marriage bureau and the sky of the painting by Eileen Cooper behind the sofa reminded us of the blue shutters as seen on this Italian street.

Although a strong colour, terracotta certainly acts as a blank canvas. It is surprising to see how many other colours work with it to create a story within a scheme.

In this scrumptious top floor suite at Crosby Street Hotel, stronger blues and softer greens are incorporated into the scheme to create an air of calmness around the powerful hue of terracotta, balanced with a light stone fireplace.

Combining such hues with lighter, more contemporary colours creates a beautiful fresh take on the earthy clay. The trick is to use a combination of different weights and textures. The timeless contrast of yellow and red is seen here in room 4 at Knightsbridge Hotel, where linens and embroidery dance across the room.

From cinnamon and rust to ochre, pale pink, and burgundy, we hope these toasted shades have found a place in your heart and your home. Share your favourite terracotta schemes with us over on Instagram by using #DesignThreads and tagging @kitkempdesignthread, we can’t wait to see them.

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