I love the colour terracotta, that beautiful blend of orange and brown you see all over Portugal – from the sun-baked cliffs to the traditional chimneys, tiles and pottery.
Italian for “baked earth”, terracotta takes its name from the fired clay of the ancient world. The rich hue comes from the iron oxides, which turn the clay into a deep rust when fired in a kiln. Warm, comforting and energising, terracotta is a great colour for interiors, especially over the colder winter months.
Portugal is rich in clay, making it the perfect place to produce natural terracotta. One of our oldest natural materials, it continues to be used for everything from construction and architecture to art. Excavations of ancient settlements in the Algarve have unearthed terracotta urns used to store wine, water and olive oil more than ten thousand years ago. Terracotta ceramics are still handmade today, with fantastic potteries all over the region. I’ve got loads of pretty terracotta storage vessels in my kitchen, although the one for wine is always strangely empty!
Artesanato da Torre, on the N125 near Odiáxere, is one of my favourite potteries in the Algarve. You’ll find a huge range of traditional terracotta pots, chimneys, kitchenware, and painted and glazed urns in stunning colours.
Founded in Olhão, the potters at Casa Cubista work with a rough, traditional form of red clay that’s been used for centuries in the Algarve. I love the white glaze they’ve splashed over these dishes; it really gives their pieces a fresh, modern twist. They would look great on this cotton table runner, hand-woven by Maria Emília at her home studio in Aveiro.
Artesanato da Torre, Estrada Nacional 125 Torre, 8600-256 Odiáxere, Portugal
Sit on Terracotta
The colour and texture of this modular corner sofa from La Redoute will make you feel like you’re sitting on the cliffs at sunset. Add a bit of pattern with this set of three handmade cushion covers in bold terracotta prints. The sofa has 23% off at the moment – a good excuse to buy a bottle of the Algarve’s award-winning Quinta dos Capinhas Rosé and enjoy sipping a glass perfectly coordinated with your surroundings.
Walk on Terracotta
I’ve just had these pale terracotta tiles laid in our living room and kitchen. Part of the ‘Cotti d’Italia’ range from Marazzi, a new porcelain stoneware collection, they have all the rustic beauty of natural terracotta without any of the drawbacks – they aren’t porous, so they don’t stain or chip. They are also easy to clean and feel smooth under foot. I went for the huge 60cm x 60cm floor tiles in ‘Rosato’ and I love them so much I have spent the last few evenings lying on the floor. You can find them in the Around Today showrooms in Lagos and Loulé.
This abstract landscape painting was inspired by the cliffs at Praia de Vale do Lobo. They are some of the deepest, most burnt orange cliffs in the whole of the Algarve and get me so excited every time I see them. It’s just one in a collection of new terracotta wall art in my shop this November – guaranteed to keep you warm all winter!
Yesterday, I painted this lamp base a light terracotta. In its former life, it was charcoal grey concrete; now, it looks a lot friendlier and brings a bit of warmth into my office. I just mixed up brown, white, yellow and red acrylic paints until I got the right shade. Acrylics dry so quickly that if you don’t like the colour when you’ve finished, you can mix up another one and paint over it.