Grout. It's not exactly the most exciting word, is it? Perhaps that's why, when it comes to making decorating decisions, choosing grout is usually bottom of the list. Which is a shame, because, as you'll see from our tile grouting ideas, this stuff can be – whisper it – rather sexy.
No, we've not lost the plot. It's just that grout choices have moved way beyond white versus off-white. There's a whole rainbow of colours to choose from, and even sparkly options. What's more, the shade you choose can dramatically change the look of your tiles, and transform the plainest ceramic into something glamorous or dramatic.
Topps Tiles' head of marketing and online, Sian O'Neill agrees. 'Grout can play a crucial role in the overall finish of a room, which is why homeowners should take their time when considering which grout they want to use,' she tells us.
'It also has a significant effect on the look and feel of the tiles used in a project, and is instrumental in either creating a seamless finish through a coordinating shade, or adding structure and definition through a contrasting tone.'
Already picked your grout? Read: How to grout tiles – a step-by-step guide for kitchens and bathrooms
Read on, and discover why grout is so great.
Create a contrast with white tiles, black grout
Add instant wow-factor to your kitchen with this simplest of ideas. Just team a white tile – Metro tiles being the classic choice – with a dark grout and, boom, your room just got a whole lot cooler.
'We're finding that a dark grey grout is particularly popular with a classic white metro tile,' says Sian O'Neill. 'This shade not only disguises marks, but gives a defined edge to the tile, creating a bold, geometric look that highlights its shape.'
Combining white tiles and dark grout is not only an easy trick to pull off, it's also one to remember if you're working to a strict budget, as you can take an affordable plain tile and turn it into something altogether more dramatic. You could even re-grout an existing wall with darker grout to overhaul the look of your kitchen or bathroom.
There are lots of ways to decorate around this look. You could really go for it and embrace monochrome full-on, with white kitchen units and black appliances, or a clean white bathroom suite with matching black-and-white floor.
If that look is too stark for your tastes, there are plenty of ways to warm things up. You could team your tiles with pale wood furniture, plants, metallics or a combination of all three. We love the way the tiles and grout here are offset by soft sage units and copper fixings...
...but the prize for all-out opulence must go to this monochrome/gold combo. And you've got to love those accent tiles.
Add glamour with glitter grout and grout glitter
Next up, something relatively new to the whole grout, er, 'scene'. But if you want to add a bit of bling to your bathroom or kitchen, this is the grout for you. Glitter grout and its partner in crime, grout glitter, can add a bit of sparkle to the plainest of tiles – or turn an already snazzy tile into something truly special. If you're decorating a smaller space, glitter is a dab hand at reflecting light, too.
To clarify, glitter grout is usually available pre-mixed in tubs, but costs a little more. To save pennies, or if you just enjoy a more hands on approach, you can buy bags of specialist grout glitter that can be added to certain types of grout.
Use it with pebble-effect tiling like this, squint, and you can almost imagine sand or water running between the stones.
Apply it to a stunning metallic mosaic, and the glamour factor is multiplied. Plus those glittery bits do a fine job of detracting from any dirt. Hurrah!
You can use glitter grout and grout glitter with ceramic or porcelain tiles, and – disco divas take note – it comes in some pretty awesome colours. Like pink...
Love this trend? Read: Glitter grout is a thing and you need it in your kitchen NOW
Experiment with coloured grout
Not sold on glitter grout? How about something colourful without the sparkle? You'd be amazed by the different looks that can be achieved, just by switching the shade. Take these examples from Topps Tiles.
You could go for an energising coral-coloured grout...
...keep things fresh and calming with turquoise...
...or settle in with a sophisticated smoky grey.
All three are taken from Topps Tiles' new pastels grout range, available in stores and online later in August.
Metallics are also available at Tile Mountain, which can be coordinated with your taps or shower fittings. We love this winning combination of silver and gold.
Be practical with dark grout on the floor
Grout can be the stuff of nightmares – particularly on a tiled floor, where dirt builds up quickly. It's therefore worth considering a darker grout that will mask any grime. Just promise you won't use it as a reason not to clean your floors regularly!
When you have a patterned floor like this, try to match your grout to one of the tones in the tile for a cohesive look.
Here, grey grout creates a smart contrast, and won't look as grubby as a pale alternative. If you have a family or pets, it's a no-brainer.
Found your perfect grout, but need tiles? Read: Bathroom tile ideas
Who knew that the process of choosing this most practical of finishing touches could be so creative?
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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