The kitchen colours that look incredible with terracotta tiles - these are the foolproof combinations for a show-stopping rustic look

With a distinctive red shade, terracotta tiles create a warm look. But which kitchen colours work best with this style?

Terracotta tiles with cream cabinets
(Image credit: DeVOL kitchens)

There’s a certain charm reserved for terracotta tiles. We can’t help but let our minds wander to those glorious sundrenched terraces on the Med or even a cosy country cottage with well-trodden floors that still look the part years later. The distinctive red colour of these tiles comes from the clay it is made from being high in iron oxide. And if we were to translate the word terracotta into Italian, it means ‘baked earth’. Makes sense, right?

While arguably terracotta tiles never really went out of style, there’s no doubt they’re having quite the resurgence as a kitchen tile idea, and we’re not surprised. They create a warm, comforting look that’s super practical too, especially when laid on the floor in a kitchen.

When choosing kitchen colours to go with terracotta tiles, you can create a modern or more traditional look, depending on the colour combination you choose and what else you introduce into the space.

'Terracotta tiles work beautifully in various kitchen designs, just as effectively as any neutral tone,' explains Nicolle Whyte, design director at Olive & Barr. 'These timeless tiles complement a wide range of colours, allowing you to dramatically change the look and feel of your space depending on how you style them.'

1. Green kitchens

Green kitchen with Ca' Pietra terracotta tiles

(Image credit: Ca Pietra)

Green kitchens are very on trend, but this shade is one that will endure through time. And with plenty of shades to choose from to create your ideal kitchen style – from sage green, dark green, olive green, pastel green and teal to name just a few – you’ll be able to find the right tone to work with your choice of terracotta tile. The key is to look at the tone of your particular terracotta tile and match it to the shade of your kitchen cabinets.

'Terracotta is an earthy tone and dark, rich shades of green – think emeralds – work particularly well alongside it. It is moody and dramatic and can be styled accordingly, either with lots of natural woods for a more rustic vibe, or stripped back for a contemporary finish,' says Grazzie Wilson, head of creative at Ca’Pietra.

If you prefer a lighter palette, how about a sage green kitchen? 'Sage green offers a cool, calming balance to the warm tones of terracotta,' says Molly Chandler, designer at Willis & Stone. “This natural, earthy colour palette evokes a serene, organic feel, harmonising well with the rustic nature of terracotta.”

And if olive green is more your thing, this kitchen colour pairs well with terracotta thanks to its nature-inspired elegance that helps create a grounded, homely feel – just like you’d see in the Med.

2. Pink kitchens

Pink shaker kitchen with herringbone terracotta tiles and white marble splashback

(Image credit: Ca'Pietra)

A pink kitchen might not be your initial thought when thinking about which kitchen colours go with terracotta tiles, but hear us out. It’s actually a match made in kitchen heaven and we like to think of pink as a neutral with lovely warm characteristics.

We’re not talking about hot pinks, don’t worry. Think pared-back tones of pink such as pastels and powdery, baby pinks, or even those with a taupe or dry plaster look.

'Even though terracotta tiles are red, they go surprisingly well with the colour pink as they are similar to one another and so complement each other well, especially if you choose a lighter shade of pink,' says Grazzie.

3. Cream, beige or white

Beige deVOL kitchen with terracotta tiles and wooden kitchen island

(Image credit: deVOL Kitchens)

Pick a neutral kitchen colour scheme and let the terracotta tiles do all the talking. Cream, beige or white kitchens form a timeless backdrop to which terracotta tiles add a dose of welcoming warmth reminiscent of a rustic French farmhouse.

Look for kitchen cabinets in a colour that has a warm undertone, so veer away from harsh whites, for example, as this will create a stark contrast against the terracotta.

'White provides a clean, fresh contrast to the warmth of terracotta tiles,' explains Molly. 'This combination brightens the space, making it feel open and airy. White also highlights the natural beauty of the terracotta, allowing it to stand out. Cream or ivory tones can create a cohesive and inviting atmosphere. These colours soften the look and provide a subtle contrast without being too stark.'

Muted earthy tones like beige, taupe or sand really play into the rich palette of terracotta, so make for a very good match. You’ll need to be careful not to create a scheme that’s too matchy-matchy, so aim to have some level of contrast between earthy kitchen units and your tiles. But, when paired well, these colours create a harmonious, relaxed and cosy interior.

4. Blue kitchens

Hexagon shaped terracotta floor tiles with blue kitchen cabinets and white wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

When combining terracotta tiles with a blue kitchen, go dark. Deep shades of blue such as indigo and navy provide a sophisticated contrast that has a modern feel to it.

'The deep, rich colour complements the warmth of the tiles, creating a balanced and elegant look,' says Molly.

You could then add accents to the units such as brass handles and wooden worktops to play into the warmth of the floor tiles.

If you’re a fan of dark kitchen designs, you could even go for dark grey or charcoal cabinetry that, much like navy blue, contrasts well with the warm, reddish-brown shade of terracotta tiles. 'Charcoal or dark grey adds a modern touch to a kitchen with terracotta tiles,' says Molly. 'You’ll get a sleek, stylish appearance.'

5. Red kitchens

Pink-y red kitchen cabinets with terracotta floor

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

'If you really want to be bold, you should choose a shade of red,' says Grazzie.

We’re just as surprised as you are. But we’re open to being convinced.

'While this colour combination can seem a little daunting, and a little too red, it actually works incredibly well in practice, especially if you love the idea of the unexpected red theory. Just be sure to either go lighter or darker than the shade of your tiles.”

Nicolle says that a red kitchen with terracotta tiles can create a striking contemporary look to a space. 'Red or fiery orange can enhance the speckled tones found in terracotta tiles perfectly,' she says.

How to decide which colour is right for you?

It’s important to think about kitchen tiles in the context of your kitchen cabinetry colour. Tiles can take up a fair amount of the space you see so become a key part of the design scheme.

'Having a few tile samples on hand is always advisable, especially since natural terracotta tiles can vary in finish and colour. Work with your kitchen designer to explore different colour combinations. You'll find that some colours enhance the red tones in the terracotta, while others complement its pink hues,' says Nicolle.

Grazzie Wilson at Ca’Pietra agrees: 'Terracotta is an earthy tone and it is rich. You’ll generally want to pick colours that work in the same way, such as neutrals, pinks, reds and even the right shades of green and sample it against the tile and while it is important that the colours don’t clash and jar, the colours you choose still need to work and resonate for you.'

White kitchen cabinets with black wall and terracotta floor tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC)

FAQs

How do you clean terracotta tiles?

Terracotta is made from clay that’s been fired, so as a natural material, will need some TLC to ensure it lasts for decades. That’s not to say it’s hard to look after. Terracotta tiles are hardwearing and easy to clean, but they will develop a natural patina as the material ages. We like to think this simply adds to the character.

A simple vacuum and brush will do the trick day-to-day, while a mop with minimal water will tackle any marks or muddy footprints. For a deeper clean, use a specialist floor cleaner suitable for terracotta. Anything too harsh could penetrate the stone and lead to damage. For best practice, terracotta tiles should be sealed once installed and re-sealed over time to keep them looking tip-top.

How to create a contemporary rustic kitchen look

The kitchen look you create comes down to how you style your space outside of the cabinetry colour and terracotta tiles.

Using natural materials is a great place to start, however, remember, not every element of your kitchen has to be worn or weathered to create a beautiful rustic kitchen look. 'The trick is to create contrast and balance throughout the design,' explains Nicolle Whyte, design director at Olive & Barr.

'Complement the rustic terracotta tiles with clean white stone worktops and smooth-painted shaker cabinetry. Incorporate touches of texture with wooden shelving, soft linen accessories and hand-thrown pottery. Rustic kitchens have soul, so don’t forget to add your personality by incorporating personal trinkets or your favourite serveware.'

The shape and layout of your terracotta tiles can have an impact on the overall look too. 'For those seeking a more traditional look, choose either a chunky brick in two different sizes, or octagons & cabochons as it doesn’t get more stately or historic than these shapes,' says Grazzie Wilson, head of creative at Ca’Pietra. 'If modern is more your thing, then say yes to a hex shape as geometric shapes can work wonders.'