terra cotta tiles

Despite the fact that I'm not afraid to use color in my own home, I love the look of minimally styled interiors: white walls, un-painted wood, black accents. It's simplicity is somehow warm and inviting. It tempts me to throw out all my possessions and start over with a clean slate. Well ok, not all of them...not my spindle wood bedroom! That one would work perfectly in this dream house of mine.

Lately in my dream-like Houzz and Pinterest browsing, I've stumbled across a few of these minimalist spaces that feature terra cotta tile floors. They have the same warmth of wood floors, but with a little more interest, and of course a Mediterranean flair.

Check it.

{click on images for source}

Love the pattern mix here--especially those elongated arabesque tiles in the foreground!

Love the pattern mix here--especially those elongated arabesque tiles in the foreground!

Great blend of old and new here: the old terra cotta floor tiles with the beveled subway and modern fixtures.

Great blend of old and new here: the old terra cotta floor tiles with the beveled subway and modern fixtures.

As seen here, these tiles are great when you have a lot of indoor/outdoor spaces. They work well for both applications.

As seen here, these tiles are great when you have a lot of indoor/outdoor spaces. They work well for both applications.

I love seeing colorful Kilim rugs on terra cotta floors. I couldn't find many examples worth showcasing, but this one came close. A beautiful corridor.

I love seeing colorful Kilim rugs on terra cotta floors. I couldn't find many examples worth showcasing, but this one came close. A beautiful corridor.

That pop of deep turquoise! *swoon*

That pop of deep turquoise! *swoon*

I think the appeal of terra cotta is that it patinas nicely.  For a homeowner, this means you don't have to worry so much about keeping your tiles spotless all the time. A stain here or there just adds to the natural and beautiful color variation. It just gets better with age, which is why there's such a big market among retailers for reclaimed antique terra cotta tile, like these and these, just to show a few. 

Terra cotta is also inherently more slip-resistant than say a standard glazed ceramic. Chunky grout lines and un-glazed, un-uniform surface textures help keep your feet underneath you when there's water on the floor (which is why you often see them used in commercial kitchens--but of course, not the prettier kind that I speak of in this post).

There are, however a few things to be prepared for with terra cotta: it is a natural clay product, therefore very porous and absorbent. For this reason it should be sealed and re-sealed regularly (as often as twice a year depending on use). Because they are a natural product, and often hand-made, they are not uniform in size. This means your grout lines will be large and more open to catching dirt. But good news! They make grout sealer as well! So seal your grout (and avoid traditional mopping that just drags around dirty mop water to sit in your grout lines). 

Although the reclaimed versions can get pricey, the traditional non-sealed terra cotta tiles (Mexican Saltillo tiles) are relatively inexpensive. You can get the standard 8x8 squares for around $3 per square foot. So whether you want a warm backdrop to floor your living space, or a flavorful pop in a powder bath, there are tons of options to fit exactly the look you're going for.

My favorite shape has to be either the arabesque or the hexagon:

Love them!

What's your take on terra cotta tiles? Maybe you even have them in your home! There are a lot of Spanish Cottage homes on the Gulf Coast, especially in our home of Pensacola. I bet some of you are bound to have at least an entry or porch with terra cotta! 

OH! And don't forget to enter our Fall Table Give-Away! Just keep scrolling down to the next blog post. It's a good one! 

Until next time...