Nothing elevates a simple tile (or frankly, an already elevated tile) like your choice of grout color and application. Sure, you’ve probably seen photos of bathrooms with white tile and bright yellow or cobalt blue grout, but if you’re looking for something a little more subtle and livable for the longterm, let me present to you the five grout ideas I’ve been taking notice of that are, frankly, just plain rad.
Low Contrast Tile & Grout
I found this shot on Domino and it says both “modern” and “warm/timeless” to me, to be honest. Not sure all of you would agree with that string of thoughts, but I wanted to show you what a matte tile with black grout does. Because the textures of the tile and the grout are “similar,” it just creates an overall “texture” for the backsplash, as opposed to a big TILE moment.
Here’s something similar but at a larger scale, from Studio McGee. While this is more “charcoal on charcoal” than the “black on black” from the previous image, the slight satin sheen of the tile catches the light nicely while still not being overbearing (say, as if there had been bright white grout in place of this dark gray).
Tonal Tile & Grout
Next, I want to move into a more “tonal” category, i.e. grout that’s similar in, well, tone from the tile it’s setting apart. It’s like a hushed “I’m here, but not trying to upstage anyone.” The supporting actor of sorts, except, guys, the tonal tile and grout situation is WHERE IT’S AT right now. Let me show you some great examples.
We’ve been sharing photos of Mandy Moore’s house (designed by Sarah Sherman Samuel) for the better part of a year, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. The taupe-y grout color works really well here with the “timeworn” tile. The application is a little “shaky” (in a good way) so it feels looser and less pristine.
I see this “tonal” thing A LOT with penny tiles (which, by the way, are a fantastic budget choice for a remodel project that can be made far more special and “custom” with a deliberate grout color choice). Plus, with something this small, that means a ton of grout to get filthy and disgusting over the years, so going with a darker hue is always going to be a safer choice for anyone who’s concerned with that.
When you step back and look at this room, it almost just feels like a big textural wallpaper moment, but upon closer inspection…just a penny tile (and that ceiling wrap…so good).
I’m particularly fond here of that blue and the blush. The tonal grout really elevates the humble penny tile, people.
Gray grout isn’t a “new” idea, no, but I felt it was important to talk about. White grout is such a default for people/builders, but gray is kind of a tiling secret weapon. Let me explain.
In the Portland house, Emily and team were going for an “updated/modern traditional” look, particularly in the hard fixtures throughout the home, and an easy way to accomplish that in a bathroom is to go with a “fresher” gray grout. In the downstairs bathroom, it also happened to feel pretty tonal and give just enough depth (but not TOO much) with the beveled subway tile.
This is the shower area for the same bathroom. A white grout here would have blended too much with the tile itself, defeating the purpose of going with a non-traditional tile shape. The (extra thin) gray grout line is quiet but lets the kite tile really shine.
In the upstairs hallway bathroom, the beautiful shower tile already had so much texture and visual movement, so going with a gray tonal grout brings down the visual clutter that could have occured with a higher contrast grout.
Gray doesn’t just have to be a “hushing” tile agent. I’m pretty obsessed with this bathroom color combo of terra cotta and gray. It feels moody, luxe and more down to the earth than having used, again, a white grout (I should go and rename this post “why not to use white grout.”)
Anyone who’s been following Emily for the last several years will absolutely remember this brass “grout” line. It felt special then…and now. You can read all about how she decided the layout of the brass and the cost (spoiler alert: at the time, it was $32 per 8-foot length), head here.
As you saw from Emily’s old kitchen and the one above, the brass insets work particularly well with marble, but I’d love to hear if you’ve seen it with any other tiling material as a backsplash.
Now, onto floors. Friend of the brand Joy Cho of Oh Joy! is in the process of building a new home (which we’re following along over on Clever…are you?), and she snapped this photo a few weeks back of her brass grout lines, so for anyone who wonders if it’s still “happening,” why yes, yes it is.
Ah, what do we have here? More of Mandy Moore’s house. I make no apologies. Anyhow, the sporadic geometric pattern on her floors made via brass insets on terrazzo are niche, yes, but still a showstopper.
Thick Grout Lines
And finally, something about grout that is unrelated to color. Enter, the thick grout line.
I’ve been seeing this pop up more and more and I’m VERY into it. I think it’s a really fresh, updated application to jazz up a basic square tile.
Here’s a space with a slightly less intense grout line, but it still feels stately and purposeful. Anything thinner might end up feeling like the sloppy work of a lazy contractor.
Another Sarah Sherman Samuel triumph, she recently shared this photo of her upcoming master bedroom on her Instagram account and the thick-thin application feels so…new?
Here is a similar design from Bigger Than the Three of Us but in a black on black. I was wondering if the install process was any different for something like this, considering you likely weren’t using standard spacers, and they wrote the following: “We spent hours and hours installing the vertical black wall tile with a large gap. I think it looks amazing but it was a JOB. To lay tile like that, you have to install support boards for every single row. Those boards have to be installed and left installed until your mortar dries. Then, once you go through that whole process (which takes A LONG TIME), you get to try your hand at grouting a traditional grout line as well as an inch and a half grout line. You need different grout consistencies for both of those. I wouldn’t recommend laying tile how we laid it unless you are aware of the time investment that you need. I’d say that whatever time investment you need to lay a typical backsplash, then times that by five and you’ll have the time needed to lay this one. ” So, be warned if you want to embark on this journey, it’s…a process.
And that’s it! Five grout ideas that have been catching my eye recently. Any here you’d be interested in trying in an upcoming project of your own? Any you DID try and loved/hated? Let’s hear it.