Decorating Guides

Tortoiseshell Reveals Its Range

July 4, 2019

Tortoiseshell generally gets lumped in with the preppy trends of the ’80s, like Ray-Ban Wayfarers and prim headbands. However, this timeless material seems surprisingly fresh in today’s interiors. Although true tortoiseshell, which comes from hawksbill turtles, has been prohibited to protect those creatures, fake variations and faux finishes approximate the expression of the actual deal.

Try these ideas to add a little tortoiseshell chic to your decor.

Heather Hilliard Design

A tortoiseshell-print side chair adds a well-traveled, British colonial feel to the mannerly living area.

David Wilkes Builders

Tortoiseshell tile flows across this bath wall, creating a rich, light-dappled effect.

A tortoiseshell-pattern java table is vibrant enough to hold its own against the wildly patterned background.

Dunlap Design Group

Tortoiseshell-style tiles arranged in a random, variegated pattern, enhance the strong geometry of the space in a totally arresting way.


These tiles are similar, but the harlequin pattern makes them feel much more formal.

Tom Hurt Architecture

Tortoiseshell-stained floors give this spare space incredible thickness.

Phoebe Howard

A pair of tortoise shells gives this fairly sitting space the flavor of a classic cabinet of curiosities.

Becky Berg Design

A tortoiseshell-inspired color with this light fixture casts a considerably shine than a straightforward white version could.

Seeking to add a bit of tortoiseshell in your house? Check out the product picks below.


Four Tortoiseshell Red Wine Glasses – $16.90

This glassware would enliven any cocktail party — or possibly a glass of day iced tea on the porch.


Tortoiseshell Swirl Knob – $8

Try this tortoiseshell knob on ivory painted furniture or kitchen cabinetry.

Ethan Allen

Marlowe Bombé Chest

A sinuous chest of drawers wears a mottled tortoiseshell finish that resembles burled wood.


Glass Mosaic

The intricate detailing of these tiles is refined even further by their tortoiseshell variegation.

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