Grout Expectations: Ways to Play With Tinted Paste

These homes slip an unexpected dose of color right in the mortar.
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No grout about it, the tiled surfaces found in these houses just wouldn’t pop the same way without their contrasting grout lines. From sunshine-yellow fillers to more subdued mixes—and even a winking brass inlay—these risk-taking approaches to grout will inspire you to color inside the lines.   

A Translucent Shed Keeps a Couple’s Home, Gardens, and Cooking School Under One Roof

Ronnen Goren and Trace Streeter bought 20 acres in central Victoria, Australia, just six minutes north of the spa town of Daylesford, with the aim of creating a rural enclave where they could farm, garden, and host visitors via a cooking school and reception venue. In the bathhouse, set in a greenhouse setting, "clay bricks slip-glazed on two sides are laid with contrasting mortar to match the raw clay color of the other sides," describes the firm Partners Hill.

When Tamsen Chislett and her husband Max Lines decided to renovate the lower ground floor of their Victorian terrace in the London borough of Islington, the brief to Office S&M was simple: they weren’t to use gray anywhere in the home. The result is a joyful mash-up of vibrant color and bold architectural forms that is at odds with the grayness so often associated with London. Case in point: The marbled countertops in the ground-floor bathroom are by Smile Plastics, a company that melts and reuses discarded milk bottles and chopping boards, and cheery yellow grout outlines the white tiles cladding the floors and walls.

The kitchen backsplash features pink square Domus tiles framed by turquoise blue Mapei grout. The blue grout echoes the tones of the pale blue pantry and the teal cabinetry.

Architect Michelle Linden had been living in her Seattle home for four years before a broken refrigerator finally pushed her and her husband to renovate. In the two-and-a-half-year process, the architect opened up the 1920s residence to light and color. In the living room, the new fireplace surround is make of Cava Tile and a custom salmon pink grout that Michelle mixed with the contractor. "I could have ordered something off the shelf, but this enabled me more freedom to get the color closer to what I wanted," she says. "But you have to be flexible because it's an imperfect process." It's complemented by the tinted mirror by Alguacil & Perkoff.

The multidisciplinary team at State of Kin, a Perth-based design studio, wanted to create a uniquely Australian home, one that incorporated a variety of both multicultural and local sources. The idea of such a mix, says director Ari Salomone, "is quite true to the Australian vernacular." When choosing what shades would go into the home's color palette, the design team drew heavily on the Western Australian landscape. "We looked to the Pindan red dirt of the Northwest, the luminous white beaches, the dusty eucalyptus greens," says Salomone. In the wet areas, the team used terra-cotta grout to offset the simple grid of Sugie tiles on the floors and walls.

When Sonya Yu and her husband Zack Lara found the 1920s Spanish Colonial–style home that would be their L.A getaway, the couple turned to Síol Studios to renovate the residence to match their artistic vision. The couple have two young children, three dogs, and a cat, so the connection between the backyard and the kitchen was of the utmost importance. Dark terra-cotta tiles line the floor and continue straight out to the terrace. The architects added subtle brass details in the grout line where the kitchen flooring meets the island’s brass backsplash. "We wanted the color to spill into the grout line and weave its way from the threshold to the kitchen. The evening light catches this and illuminates the line for a moment," explains principal Jessica Weigley.

Fresh off their wedding and honeymoon, architect Richard John Andrews and his wife, Kristina, dove headfirst into a project that would scare off most newlyweds: a gut renovation of a ramshackle 1890s Victorian terrace house in need of "a lot of TLC." They sacrificed an existing bedroom to make room for a first-floor bathroom, which is fitted with a large skylight. The herringbone wall tiles are from Topps Tiles, set off with an earthy-hued grout.

The colored grout complements the bathroom’s copper fixtures, made by the crafty couple. The freestanding bathtub is from Soak.com.

After spending years patching up their rental, two architects decided to purchase their very own fixer-upper on the top floor of an 1890s brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Having fallen in love with the view of the Hudson River, high ceilings, and the fact that the apartment hadn’t been touched since the ‘60s, Kate and Arthur embraced the cozy new home and aimed to make less than 500 square feet feel larger. The couple tapped Sweeten to reconfigure walls, expand the kitchen, and update the bath. A minimalist black-and-white aesthetic dominates the apartment kitchen, where elongated black tile is contrasted with lighter gray grout. The countertops are dark soapstone, and the cabinets are a dark green-black.

Completed on a budget of $35,000, XS House is a 355-square-foot apartment in Taipei renovated by Phoebe Sayswow Architects. Taking style cues from the acclaimed Japanese lifestyle brand Muji, the tiny apartment boasts a minimalist aesthetic with a simple palette of white walls, birch plywood surfaces, and glazed white tiles with contrasting cherry-pink grout.

An opaque sliding glass door separates the dining area from the bathroom, but the continuity of white tiles from RAK Ceramics and pink grout sources from Grout360 ties the spaces together.

At a vacation home in Crested Butte, Colorado, designed by Gina D'Amore Bauerle, a guest bath  features gray glass herringbone tiles with lime-green glitter grout.

Shyan and Joy, the new owners of a flat in the quaint precinct of Ang Mo Kio in Singapore, tapped Open Studio to create a versatile home that balances private and public spaces. The social areas are deliberately moody while bedrooms and bathrooms are more playful. Terra-cotta tiles and matching grout provide pop of color, adding a youthful dimension to the apartment.

In an apartment of only about 350 square feet, Madrid–based architectural firm elii has designed a functional layout with a bright palette that emphasizes light and views to the streetscape outside. The bathroom has two frosted glass walls to allow light to filter in. Blue grout and contrasting yellow drawers and hardware bring bright colors into the space.

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