Posts By Amy Cutmore

Tile grouting ideas – tips for choosing grout colours and finishes

Grout has changed! Once a boring basic, it's now a great way to make a statement in a kitchen or bathroom

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

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Image Credit: Matthew Williams

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.

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Image Credit: Jonathan Jones

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…

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Image credit: Jonathan Jones

…but the prize for all-out opulence must go to this monochrome/gold combo. And you’ve got to love those accent tiles.

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Image credit: David Parmiter

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.

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Use it with pebble-effect tiling like this, squint, and you can almost imagine sand or water running between the stones.

Buy Now: Glitter Grout, £14.99 for 1kg, Staffordshire Silicones

Tile-grouting-ideas-Glitter-Grout-Tile-Mountain

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!

Buy Now: Mapeglitter Silver glitter, £9.99 for 100g, Tile Giant

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…

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…keep things fresh and calming with turquoise…

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…or settle in with a sophisticated smoky grey.

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All three are taken from Topps Tiles’ new pastels grout range, available in stores and online later in August.

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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!

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Image credit: Jonathan Jones

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.

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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?

The post Tile grouting ideas – tips for choosing grout colours and finishes appeared first on Ideal Home.

How to clean a BBQ

It’s the time of year to roll out the barbecue, but cleaning off old grime can be a nightmare. Put in a few hours’ elbow grease and you’ll be good to go for summer

The sun’s finally out and no doubt you’re craving burgers and bangers, steaks and salmon, cooked to order on the BBQ. Yum. Or maybe not, because the last time you saw your grill it was gathering dust in the shed, still caked in last summer’s last grill out. Sound about right? Then it’s time to bite the bullet, put on a pair of rubber gloves and get scrubbing. This isn’t just a step-by-step guide to how to clean a BBQ – we’ve also added a few hacks to help you keep your grill clean all summer long.

No way that grease and grime is coming off? Then take a look at Barbecues – our pick of the best.

1. Start with heat   

how to clean a bbq

If there’s still caked-on food left over from last year, light fresh coals in your barbecue and leave them to reach a very high heat. This will burn off a lot of the most stubborn remnants.

2. Clean the BBQ with steam

Allow your barbecue to cool slightly, but while it’s still warm, cover the grill in water-soaked old newspaper. Close the lid for half an hour to steam clean it. 

3. Get scrubbing

Use a grill brush with wire bristles to get rid of remaining food particles. If you have a porcelain-coated rack, it’s best to use a brass-bristled grill brush to avoid damaging it. No grill brush? Screw up aluminium foil into a ball and scrub the grill with it instead. Next, clean the grill with a dishcloth and hot soapy water.

If that doesn’t shift the dirt, you might want to try a household cleaner. However, some can be abrasive and toxic for a barbecue, so make sure you get a cleaner that’s specifically designed for the job, such as Jeyes barbecue cleaner, £3.50 for 750ml, B&Q.

4. Tackle the base

How to clean a BBQ Tackle-the-base

As soon as your barbecue is cool, tip away leftover ash into a bucket – it will collect moisture and be harder to clean later if you leave it. Use damp kitchen roll to pick up the final bits, then give the base a good wash using warm water and washing-up liquid.

5. Wipe the outside

Using fresh warm water and washing-up liquid, wipe the exterior, then buff the metal shell with a dry cloth. If your barbecue is stainless steel, use a specialist polishing spray. It’s also worth giving your BBQ a light coating of mineral or baby oil to protect it from the elements. This is doubly important if you’re planning to keep your barbecue outside all summer long, and will give it a lovely shine.

6. Prevent more grime from building up

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Next time you fire up your grill, give it a good coating of sunflower oil before you start cooking to stop food from baking on to the surface. Also, have a brush with a long handle to hand, so you can loosen any stuck-on food while the barbecue is still hot.

7. How to clean a BBQ if time is against you

Try some speedy antibacterial wipes. We like double-sided Barbecue Cleaning Wipes, £4.99, Landmann.

8. Always cover up

It may seem like a faff, but covering your grill to protect it from the elements will save you loads of hassle in the long run. Covers are available for most brands of barbecue. You’ll usually have to pay extra for them, but they will ward off rust and keep out extra dirt between cook-outs.

9. Keep on top of things

Weber barbecue cleaner how to clean your bbq

Now that you’ve got your barbecue looking pristine, ensure it remains in tip-top condition by using a barbecue cleaning product after every use. Weber BBQ Grate Cleaner, £8.99 for 500ml, John Lewis, will do the job perfectly.

If reading this has got you in the mood for sprucing things up, check out our Best ever cleaning tips

Got any BBQ cleaning tips that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments box.

The post How to clean a BBQ appeared first on Ideal Home.

Decorating tips – dos and don’ts from our favourite interiors experts

Who better to ask for decorating tips than some of the biggest names in interiors? From the colours to use to the furniture to buy, these little gems of advice from the experts will save you from any design disasters.

Let’s be honest, decorating your home can be a daunting business. Even if you’re a pro with a paintbrush or have an eye for vintage bargains, putting coherent schemes together can be anything from tricky to terrifying.

Employ the style secrets the pros swear by, however, and you’ll soon have a home that makes visitors swoon.

These decorating tips come from some famous names from the world of interiors. We’ve asked designers, makers, merchandisers and more what they’ve learnt from styling their own homes, so we can share their wealth of experience and help you to create the look of your dreams.

Read on and you’ll also discover that when it comes to decorating our homes, everyone makes mistakes – even the experts!

1. Start with a sofa

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Keith Brymer Jones, ceramicist and presenter of BBC Two’s The Great Pottery Throw Down

‘I’ve been guilty 
of making some really silly DIY mistakes. I once took a door off the hinges to cut a bit 
off the end because it was scraping on my tiled floor. It wasn’t until I went to put it back on the frame that I realised that I’d cut the wrong end off! I also tried rewiring a light only to find out that the entire wall was live. That was quite funny…

‘As for tips, for anyone moving into a new home and wondering where to start, the first thing I would buy would always be a sofa. Why? One, you need somewhere 
to sit; two, it’s a great way of making 
a statement as to what you like, and 
three, I just like sofas!’

2. Choose your palette carefully

Donna Wilson, textile designer

‘I think that co-ordinating colour and pattern in a home is so important. Having a colour palette for each room can really change the mood of each space.’

3. Move things around regularly

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Tanja Souter, creative director, Hema

‘If you like something, 
don’t be afraid to have it 
in your home. Even if it’s not in your exact style, as long as you love it, 
it’ll blend in and help make your 
home an extension of you

‘Also, don’t change your decor all at once. Instead, add a few new pieces and move things around regularly, so it always feels fresh.’

4. Be brave

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Abigail Ahern, homeware designer

‘Have confidence when decorating. The biggest obstacle to overcome (especially as women, because we always second-guess ourselves) is to trust your instincts. Just try it, and if it doesn’t work, try another look.

‘When I first moved in, I treated my house like a laboratory.  I gradually found out what worked, what resonated with me and made my heart skip. Back then, I knew what my style wasn’t, but didn’t know what it was.

‘A can of paint can change a room for very little money. 
At first, I painted everything white, because I didn’t know what I wanted. Then I painted a wall in my shop dark grey and loved how it made the accessories pop. So I painted the whole store dark grey.

‘Then I thought I’d rather be living in my store than in my house because I like how it makes me feel. So I painted a wall at home in a dark shade, then everything fell into place. Painting everything white wasn’t a mistake and I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t have that feeling of wanting to stay at home – now it’s hard to prize me out of it!’

5. Take your time

Liz Silvester, Head of Visual Identity, Liberty

The hardest thing for me about decorating is working out how much is too much. But one thing I’ve learnt is to take your time. It’s okay to do a bit at a time and live with it and review it. One thing responds to another.

Some 
of the most amazing interiors are put together over time, whereas rushing into a completed look can sometimes box you off for improvement.

6. Choose things you truly love

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Vanessa Anderson, Head of Design for Home, Marks & Spencer

Always decorate with your heart – don’t try to be something you’re not. So don’t follow fads or go with a style because you think your friends would like it – be true to yourself and your own style will follow.

I’m a full subscriber to William Morris’s ethos of having nothing in your house you neither know to be useful nor believe to be beautiful. The things you love will come together and work together because they are joined by your appreciation of them.

Once you know what these inspirational pieces are, work from there to create a setting that will show them off to their best advantage – whether it’s something as simple as a much loved book collection or something more show-stopping like artwork or a statement piece of lighting.

7. Invest in classic pieces

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Kristina Karlsson, stationery and homeware designer and founder of kikki.K

‘I’ve collected some classic Scandinavian furniture over the years – it’s expensive so I have to save up, but a few key pieces really do make the rest of your room look beautiful.

‘My favourite item is my 
Arne Jacobsen Swan chair. My husband Paul bought it for my birthday years ago and I adore it – it’s so elegant.’

Buy Now: 
Arne Jacobsen Swan chair, £3,112, Fritz Hansen

8. Avoid black floors!

Genevieve Bennett, textile designer

‘I think it takes time to work out what a space needs and you have to live in it for a while. I’d like to try some rich shades, and possibly even some dark colours. No black floors, though: I had one in my kitchen, years ago – it never looked clean and it drove me slightly mad. Never again!’

9. Get the staples right

James French

Image credit: James French

Sam Hood, founder, Amara

‘I think your taste changes as you grow older. Your influences develop. Sometimes when I look back 10 years, I feel like, ‘Wow, 
what on earth was I thinking when I decorated that room?!’ But at the time, I loved it. I’ve gone from a house where every window had swags and tails in traditional patterns to what my house looks like now. Everything is plain, 
simple and neutral.

‘Having said that, I think it’s always worth investing in a good sofa, bed and kitchen table. These are the areas where you spend all of your time. If you choose a style well, then it should last you for years.’

The post Decorating tips – dos and don’ts from our favourite interiors experts appeared first on Ideal Home.