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The Bathroom Tile Grout “Trend” We Are Trying – Matching Tile To Grout to Create A Monochrome Look

The tile at the farmhouse is being installed and it looks INSANE. It’s going to take about a month because this lady likes things that are complicated, but it looks incredible and I get so excited every single time I am there. When we originally designed this house, 12 years ago, we wanted the bathrooms (the whole house really) to be quiet and more monotone, so when there is color there isn’t also a TON of contrast. At times I’ve questioned and doubted this vision, but I hope that we were right – that there will be enough contrast and interest in the rest of the elements to still look interesting. And now that the bathrooms are coming along, and the tile is almost done, I feel SO confident in that decision (quite a f*cking relief, TBH). It’s not what a lot of designers would do – they would add more color, pattern, etc, but the vibe that we want is a more calm, restrained, simplistic (ha. that sunroom). So for most of our bathrooms, we chose 1 color and used it in different patterns and scales in the same room (mixed with white), with hopes that the grout would not create more contrast. But there is a hole in the grout market and while you can customize grout colors, it cost $200 and takes 2-3 weeks. So today I’m walking you through our grout thought process, how we chose what we did with some sneak peeks at what it looks like now:

Our Desire: Monochrome

This might be boring to you but it’s not to me. It feels simple but special (drink! drink! – anyone else playing the drinking game for how often I use those two words?). There is some contrast of course, but not within the tile and grout itself (note that Heidi’s bathroom has dark tile with a white detail – not totally monochrome).

design by heidi caillier design | photo by haris kenjar photography
design by jr corleto | photo by virtually here studios | via cle tile

I know that a lot of people might want MORE, but y’all I’ll style it out, I promise. I just love how the floor just reads as a texture and not too busy – but there is so much movement. So now that you know the “tile vibe” we are going for let’s go grout by grout:

Primary Bath Floor – Our Bathroom

As you can see we chose a 1×8 herringbone, otherwise known as “the gray hair maker”. Our tile team, which was FANTASTIC, loved installing this purely for the sake of the challenge – or so they said. This is from Pratt + Larson, made in Portland and it was an idea I came up, using a custom color just for us. Remember: the smaller the pattern = more cuts = make more expensive to install and this mosaic was not netted so it was installed individually. This is not a cheap install (not sure how much as it is all tied in with the overall house tile budget which everyone is shielding me from, but likely a few thousand for just this floor as it took 3 days of labor with two guys, not including prep). We played with spacing a bit since the tile is only 1″ wide we didn’t want the scale of the spacing to get funky…1/16″ you lost some of the impact so 1/8′ felt just right!

It’s absolutely incredible and this is even PRE-grout. So the question is what color do we want for that grout that will enhance the tile, but not distract from it? This seemed like a pretty fantastic time for us to do some sample boards, and by “us” I mean Erik and his Level Plane crew (Sergei! Vlad! Jeremy! – It warms my cold old social media heart to know that these dudes are cheering us on social media)

This is not something any tile setters will just do for you, but you might be able to pay a bit more for this and my goodness I’m so glad we did.

Our first instinct was that the middle (charcoal which leans black) is just WAY too modern and strangely masculine. Then the one on the left was beautiful but we feared that on the entire floor it would be too busy.

So we laid it on the floor in the bathroom and tried to give it more context – really picturing it over the whole floor with the wood to represent the vanity and the white tile that will go on the vanity wall. We still nixed #2 Charcoal, feared that #1 would be too busy, so I guess it’s #3? The one closest to Brian? I’m using question marks because it wasn’t a “hell yes” and I was not going to risk the beauty of this tile by messing up the grout.

So I begged Erik to make one more board and promised to give so much love in exchange. Thank you, Erik!

The second Brian and I saw the “twilight” grout it was a “hell yes”. Not because on the board it was the most dynamic, but because picturing over the floor of the bathroom we felt it did exactly what we wanted – let that color pop, drawing attention to the texture of the tile shape but NOT a busy pattern – almost like a beautiful quite sea of handmade blue texture. Incredible. Plus look how much it brought out the blue?!

The Guest Bath Floor And Walls

This is the first glimpse you are getting of our guest bath…and as I said we are leaning in on the tone-on-tone grout trend and kinda REALLY loving it. This dusty rose Pratt + Larson tile is such a striking color. The mixture of shape and scale is plenty to make this space feel special without accentuating the grout lines, so we chose to let them “rest”.

Somehow this one matched perfectly! Slightly darker which is GREAT. Isn’t that color just so beautiful and has so much variety! Again it’s a custom color from Pratt + Larson, but one that you can ask for.

The grout is called “Quarry Red” and it’s a warm deep brick color. It was an easy decision and we didn’t need to get boards made.

It turned out SO PRETTY. The grout really highlights the color variation and the texture of the tile, versus the pattern of the tile shape.

The Mudroom Floor

We chose this beautiful blue/green/gray tile with a “brownstone” finish meaning that it’s more rustic, which we thought was so appropriate for a more utilitarian space that feels like a landing spot for mud.

It’s a herringbone in the middle with a border around the outside that is just a staggered brick.

I can’t even express my love for this room. Something about that blue/green with the white oak cabinets from Unique Kitchens and Baths feels so perfectly PNW to me. But what grout? We needed to see this one mocked up as well so…

Erik and crew kindly helped us visualize by mocking up two boards.

There was a pretty quick all-around consensus on this one. We liked both, the “Platinum” (which is strangely the darker grout) was so pretty and again calming. It went on light then dried darker. We felt that it would be way easier to clean since this room will get a lot of mud from the kid’s shoes and dogs.

They had only started grouting here and the grout hadn’t dried yet (will be slightly darker). Right now this is turning out to be my favorite room in the entire house (probably because it’s the closest to being done).

Kids Bath

The floor of the kid’s bath was the biggest challenge thus far because this green had nothing we could match with. The closest was “Autumn Green” but as you can see it just read more brown than green.

While in a perfect world we would have ordered a custom grout that matched the green, we didn’t feel like it was important enough to set the project back a few weeks. I’m in the “let’s move in” phase of this renovation, so anything that sets us back too much is a big no-no.

So that’s where we’re at with our grout. It feels more real every day! Lots more content headed your way. xx

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1 year ago

It looks GORGEOUS! Very fancy, not boring at all! I think it will be super to live with! You have incited my craving for matte herringbone for my entry now – I would love a roundup of how to get the look for less and it would be helpful since I am working on similar issues in my home on a far lesser budget.

Loveley of @lovelyloveley
1 year ago

i love all of these choices so much! that primary bath tile is my FAVORITE! i want it! i like the matching of the grout to the tile. it’s so nice and quiet and let’s the tile shine. not too busy. love.

Katie Cruse
1 year ago

I think sample grout boards should be compulsory for every tiling job! We re-did our ensuite in floor to ceiling wall tile and the grout I chose ended up being too dark and to this day (four years on) it still bugs me so much. If only I’d seen a sample I would have known straight away it was wrong. I even got a grout company to quote on re-grouting but because the tiles are fairly small they said it would be easier to lay new tiles (!!) lesson learned 🙂

1 year ago
Reply to  Katie Cruse

Agree!! Just like choosing stain colors. Now I know to ask for this – definitely worth paying for (or just doing it myself and creating my own sample board)!

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Lynno

I’d go with the DIY option if it’s a standard grout colour, for sure.

Erin Dae
1 year ago

Everything looks amazing! This article gave me a bit of anxiety though because the regrets I have in our current main bath remodel are all grout related. The grout on our floor ended up WAY lighter than it was supposed to (research indicates some efflorescence happened) but after living with it a few days I ended up liking it so we left it. Then in the shower the grout ended up darker, but I couldn’t risk damaging the tile to have them Dremel it out and do it over again. All of it ended up slightly too high contrast for me and I wish I could swap the colors because then it would be perfect. Going by the in-store samples it should have worked out correctly but alas, it didn’t. The room will still look gorgeous and I’m likely the only one who will know how it is “supposed” to be in terms of the design in my head vs what got executed – but it is still a disappointment after waiting 20 years for this renovation.

1 year ago
Reply to  Erin Dae

I feel your “pain!” The privilege of making these choices comes with a dark underbelly of potential regret. Sounds dramatic but it’s so true. I try to tell myself that no matter how beautifully something turns out, I would STILL wonder “what if” it had bee slightly different/better in some way? This gives me some peace in knowing that it’s really my over-analytical nature that’s the problem, not any given design outcome. Hope this helps!

1 year ago
Reply to  Erin Dae

Erin, have you tried grout paint/grout colorant? Never tried this but seems like something that may work for you.

1 year ago
Reply to  Eleanor

I’ve used grout paint! It also was a paint/sealant so that was a plus, It was going from lighter to darker so i can’t speak to the other way, but it worked amazingly, still going strong over 2 years later.

1 year ago

Loooove this trend! So exciting to see your new home come together.

1 year ago

It makes me laugh thinking I just read an entire article about grout AND found it riveting. The last time I had to choose a grout color was 7 years ago when we bought/renovated our first house and our contractor asked “what grout color?” and I was like “urmmm… medium?” All I knew was I didn’t want it to be too light or too dark. Compared to picking out the tile it was such an afterthought. So I love this post and feel so much more prepared for future renovations. Seeing the different grout choices and the impact they have on the tile is so valuable – thank you, Emily! IT’S ALWAYS THE DETAILS. And damn, the tile choices are so gorgeous!

1 year ago
Reply to  Lynno

Riveting is the right word! I’m laughing right along with you.

1 year ago

I love all the tile colrs and patterns you chose. Can’t wait to see the styling for each room and how you picked up the floor color in the accessories!

1 year ago

I love blue as a neutral like this!! So serene!

1 year ago

I love all your tile choices! All very calm and simple, but such gorgeous colors and shapes and installed in special ways.

1 year ago

I am so impressed; the tile team did amazing work! Love the tonal grout, the colors and the pattern/ texture element.

1 year ago

It’s amazing how much the grout color can change the look and feel of the tile! It makes sense though- the color of the grout and the tile color are interacting and pulling different colors out of each other. The smoke grey grout for the mud room you decided not to go with looks almost lavender tinged! Thanks for showing us the difference that grout makes. Duly noted for when we have to make these decisions.

1 year ago

Yesss grout colors are so hard. Who knew how important they are! These are stunning!
Love that you went for it with the dusty rose color + reddish grout. I never would have thought to make that choice and it’s perfect.

1 year ago

Kudos to you because everything you’ve shown here is PERFECTION!

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago

“…like a beautiful quite sea of handmade blue texture.” THAT really IS what it looks like!!!!
Beautiful! Done! Okay…so, I’m drooling over tile!!❣
The red brick tile mimicks brick… I was surprised YOU chose that one, but I like it a lot.
The texture is amazing. Blows my mind!🤯 In the best way possible!

All of the tile choices are giving the house some earthiness, some soul and literally grounding it.
I am hanging for tge kitchen tile… … …
Ex-cit-ing times!!!😃

1 year ago

Does your tile team have any suggestions for maintaining the color of/cleaning tile grout?

1 year ago
Reply to  Anne

Same thought/question! It seems like this would be incredibly difficult to keep clean! The mudroom floor, especially, gives me anxiety looking at it thinking of how impossible it will be to maintain with the small tiles and all the grout. When we remodeled our bathrooms, I specifically chose larger tiles because I didn’t want the maintenance hassle.

1 year ago
Reply to  Anne

So this IS NOT a paid advertisement or anything, but I have a Bissell Spin Disc cleaner that you can use dry or wet and it is so awesome! It comes with cleaner pads, scrubbing pads and some liquid cleaner but I use Bona in it for my hardwood floors and just soapy water for tile floors. It would probably float like a dream on Emily’s tiles. It doesn’t really scrub even with the scrubber pads but it will mop and sort-of buff them.

Roberta Davis
1 year ago

Beautiful choices! I may have missed something, but curious as to why you would choose a cabinet company that’s on the east coast? Seems like a lot of extra expense? Even though if you only used them for the laundry/mud room it wouldn’t be so much stuff to move.

1 year ago

Unclench the buttocks-grout decisions have been made! And they are awesome-the Twilight! Is that shade pink or brick?-YES!! It is nice to see as much thought put into the finishing of the beautiful tiles as was selection of the tiles. These details matter, it’s like finding the perfect shade of tinted moisturizer or the most lovely shade of nude nail polish, seemingly unimportant minutia until you get just the right one (or wrong one). Applause! Just FYI, I know you can afford it (but!!), my butt cheeks are already glued together again hearing you say you don’t have a final cost yet on labor. My brother-in-law quoted us on doing 2 full bath floors (each about/under 10’x12′) and the labor plus some finishing materials were over $40,000.00!!!!! This number includes a family discount of like 10gees!! And, and this was floor only! And, and, and this cost was more than any design/build element of our home, including the lumber package to build the whole house!! We ended up only having him do our primary bath floor due to the cost but felt more comfortable with a pro doing it because it has a curbless shower and we needed to get… Read more »

Cici Haus
1 year ago

I would have said “meh, I guess the Platinum is fine” but SO GLAD YOU FOUND THAT TWILIGHT!

1 year ago

Wow what a difference each grout makes!

1 year ago

Good lord I loved reading this! Love every pick so much!!!

1 year ago

Wait, did i miss something? What color grout did you choose for the kids’ bath??? The suspense is killing me! No, really. 😂😂😂

1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

i have the same question!

1 year ago

This is exactly what I did when I designed my kitchen; I found the closest standard color I could because I wanted the focus to be on the color variations in the tile (they’re crackled glass). Seven years later I still love the way it looks.

The “green” grout is fine but did you consider a diy custom solution? It seems like you could play around with mixing some of the existing colors to see if you could get closer.

1 year ago

We did our entire ground floor when we remodelled in a porcelain tile that mimicked green slate. We color-matched the grout, because it would have been waaaaaaay too distracting otherwise. Good choice for you, too, for exactly the sam reason.

1 year ago

Stunning! OMG all the tiles are fabulous, and the grout colors enhance them so well.

1 year ago

INCREDIBLE is right!
It is beyond stunning in its understated beauty.
Love getting this type of detail in construction and reading about it as well. Great job!

Shout out to Level Plane Crew… guys have an awesome attitude, patience and skill, let us know if you would come to NYC for tile work, I have a separate apartment for out of state trades.

Thanks for sharing

1 year ago

I’m just so intrigued by how green the tiles look in the Charcoal grout vs. how blue they are in the Twilight! This was fascinating, thanks for all the examples!

1 year ago

I’m not generally drawn to such dark rich colors for tile floors but I’m loving the oceany herringbone with the twilight grout and the terra cotta mix with the quarry red grout. They both bring out all the subtle color and pattern variations. Beautiful.

1 year ago

Love the tone-on tone look. Good for you.

1 year ago

Can’t say how much I love all this tile!! I’ve long wondered about statement tile and how it ages. Love these beautiful tiles in beautiful colors. Good job Emily!!

1 year ago

You can get pigments and just mix them in with your grout, the same way you would tint a limewash. Ask the Builder has links on his website. They’re used in brick mortar and should be just fine for tile grout. They’re also rather cheap, so they definitely shouldn’t cost $200…
I’m a sucker for fun grout. 🙂 Love the blue on blue.

1 year ago

I can’t for the life of me remember where the guest bath is! Did the 2nd floor laundry room shrink and the guest bath got added where the back half of the laundry was? I feel like I saw that in a post, but now I can’t remember…

1 year ago
Reply to  Caitlin