1.29.2012

the warmth of terra cotta

it seems odd at first to have a bedroom with a tile floor.  but the variegated autumnal hues are a warm complement to this room's pale blue walls.  i love the detail of the dark brown paint about 18" up the wall. 

a room at an inn in barbizon, france that housed painters of the forests of fontainbleau in the mid 19th century.  (image: The World of Interiors, Jan 2012)

a more muted terra cotta is partially covered in a blue and white rug.  this hunting lodge belonged to the first french woman to receive a driver's license: duchess anne d'uzes, great-granddaughter of veuve clicquot, in the late 19th century.  she also was an active hunter and lined the walls of the chateau with her kills.

the duchess's bedroom at Chateaux de La Celle des Bordes. (image: The World of Interiors, Apr 2003)

a passageway with pale green walls and gilded frames is grounded by a uniformly colored terra cotta.

a late 17th century room in Chateaux d'Ansouis, provence, france.  (image: The World of Interiors, Jan 2002)
terra cotta is also made in square shapes, laid here in a running bond.

the dining room at an 18th century manor house in burgundy. (image: The World of Interiors, Jun 2005)
another dining space with hexagonal terra cotta, this time with black added.  as in the first image of this post, i love how the floor and wall meet directly without base board and the lower part of the wall is painted a different color.  the classic Thonet chairs were painted eau de nil, a pale yellowish green, in the late 1800s.  

a room in count umberto morro's tuscan house.  he left the house and its contents to his manservant upon his death. (image: The World of Interiors, Nov 2003)

though more commonly used in centuries past, the terra cotta look can be updated.  here a sleek modern kitchen is anchored in red.

a 350sf apartment in paris with reconfigured walls but original tile floors. (image: Studios and Lofts, Marcos Nestares)

a french decorator aims for a contemporary style in an old st. tropez house and went so far as to paint the terra cotta floors a light grey.  i can't say i like the idea of painting terra cotta tiles, but i like the textural look it offers this space.

frederic mechiche's home on st. tropez. (image: The World of Interiors, Jun 2005)

terra cotta tiles are a natural choice for a sunroom.  the color of the tile is picked up in the window shades and complemented by the myriad plants and green-painted ceiling beams.

the winter garden at chateau gabriel, yves st. laurent's normandy getaway (image: The World of Interiors, Dec 2009)
 most of these floors have been trod upon for decades and decades and so they have their own well worn patina.  but this patina and the inherent warmth of the color of clay is what gives these rooms an needed element of life and vitality, and more importantly, terra cotta's humble nature prevents these spaces from trying to take themselves too seriously.

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