We're Calling Terracotta Tile One of 2020's Biggest Design Trends, And We Are Here For It
We can't mention terracotta without calling to mind China's Terracotta Army, Spain's terracotta roofs, or even the brick courtyards found throughout the South's most historical cities. Terracotta has a long and rich history, but its popularity seems to be heating up once again. When we first started spotting terracotta floors in newly overhauled homes, we couldn't quite commit to jumping aboard. But as the trend has continued to take shape, so too has our love of the stunning range of rusty, earthy colored tiles that result from a millennias-old technique.
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, terracotta (meaning "baked earth" in Italian) was a material used throughout the ancient world, as far back as 3000 B.C.E. It fell out of use somewhere between the end of the Roman Empire and the 14th century, though it came back in a major way in 15th-century Europe. There it was used in a variety of ways, one of the most iconic being medallions that decorated buildings, some of which can still be spotted today.
The resurgence in popularity of terracotta tiles has been on an upward trend for a few years now, but the applications that are reminiscent of French country homes are what truly fill our design-loving hearts with all the feels. If you want to get really authentic, some vendors source reclaimed tiles salvaged from the region's farmhouses, dating back more than 150 years. Just be sure to brace yourself for that invoice.
The varying colors found in historic terracotta tiles—mimicked in many of today's versions—was just a result of varying heat, according to reclaimed flooring purveyor Historic Decorative Materials. The wet clay was molded into forms, then let to harden with fire. The tiles closer to the flame would be lighter, while the tiles that were farther from the heat source would be noticeably darker red. For the most authentic French farmhouse look, opt for versions that have a range of hues and an imperfect appearance.
It's important to source from a vendor that you trust and who will take into consideration the foot traffic, environment, and elements that could result in cracking or other issues.