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.
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.
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
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.
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?
The post Tile grouting ideas – tips for choosing grout colours and finishes appeared first on Ideal Home.
In our interview series, we talk to our favourite bloggers and experts about their trend predictions and styles. Here, we meet Sophie Amini, designer at Pooky
1.When should we start thinking about lighting?
From a conceptual point of view it is never too early to start!
You may already have strong ideas but, if not, gather together cuttings, designs and colours to create a moodboard of what inspires you and what you would like to incorporate.
From a practical point of view the space will dictate some of your final decisions. Careful consideration needs to be given to utility areas, key pieces of furniture, artworks and focal points. Having a clear vision of what you want both practically and creatively before work begins will ultimately save time and money so don’t rush it!
2. How can I create a lighting scheme that is beautiful yet practical?
It’s all about layering.
Most rooms require a generic backdrop of lighting in order to facilitate everyday tasks. Spotlights are popular but I prefer to use wall lights or pendants which are equally effective but not so clinical. Our prismatic glass shades such as the Qilin, the Henry or Henrietta work well as not only do they give out good light, they also make a more personal statement. I then make sure to use carefully chosen table and floor lamps, often wired up to 5amp sockets, so with a flick of a switch you add another layer, creating an ambience which is flattering and soft, perfect for relaxing or socialising.
3.What sort of lighting should you include in your home?
I think of lighting as oxygen which will bring your home alive. Practicalities may dictate many elements but in terms of creating a ‘home’ it is very personal and there is no ‘should’! A glowing Luxor lantern in the hallway. Tall Crescent lamps on a console table. Wall lights flanking a fireplace or mirror. A pair of colourful table lamps either side of a sofa with a floor lamp overlooking an armchair. A cosy spindle with a neat empire shade on a bedside table. A large chandelier over the dining room table. Our Stella pendants along the landing. A row of chic Thea’s over the kitchen island. Anything goes, we hope to encourage self-expression and provide an inspiring array of options.
4. How do I decide where to place the light fittings?
This is personal so these are rough guidelines which may be helpful. For wall lights either side of a painting or mirror, I centre the fixture at about 170cm from the floor. For pendants I like to hang them in threes; over a dining table at about 80cm above the surface, over a kitchen island at about 90cm. Most of our more substantial pendants have hooks and chains so can easily adapt. Electricians are very clever at providing flexible options so if in doubt install an extra socket or wiring option just in case.
5. What about kitchens and bathrooms?
Kitchens and bathrooms require specialist lighting for certain limited areas but beyond these areas lighting is a safe and great way to brighten up what is often a utilitarian space.
6. What are the latest trends for lighting?
There is still a trend for simple forms which can adapt to either a formal or intimate setting, lamps that pack a punch with pattern and form, but are easy on the eye and not invasive. Chandeliers which look great in a conventional setting but also work well as an outsized feature in a smaller space are also popular.
Clusters have been on trend for a while now and I think this will continue into autumn winter. We are very excited about our new designs which I think will have current appeal. Classic designs with a twist, fun but chic and made from quality materials. In one or two you’ll see inspiration from the 70’s…
7. What are your bestselling lights?
This constantly changes so it is hard to be specific. We have a diverse range of lights and diverse customers each of whom are looking for a different product. We also get large orders from hotels or developments which can give a distorted view of what most of what people actually like or are looking for. We are very excited about our new range of lights so watch this space!
8. Do you see every product through from conception to execution?
Yes. We work very closely both with each other and with the manufacturers. We talk through sketches and ideas at length before deciding which samples to get made up. Sketches are translated into technical drawings from which the manufacturers can work. Collaboration with the manufacturers is essential as every millimetre makes a difference as does the tone of a colour or the right finish. There is often a lot of toing and froing to get the product exactly right.
9. How do you decide which products to sell at Pooky?
It is good to know what is out there and to keep an eye on current trends but we do try to be objective and constantly move forward. There is a thread of familiarity through most of our products, whether traditional, practical or quirky but nothing is off the table for us and keeping an open mind is key. Lighting is an incredibly personal and expressive form of decoration so we try to provide a diverse collection to hopefully inspire a diverse clientele.
10. What is your favourite light fixture?
For pendants I love the simple sleek design of our classic chain ceiling rose especially the antique brass which works perfectly with our heavier hand blown glass pendants and lanterns. Another favourite is our scroll wall light fitting. It is a sleek design, elegant yet subtle and with our new range of shades looks stunning.
The post Light your home the right way with…Sophie Amini of Pooky appeared first on Ideal Home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Try some speedy antibacterial wipes. We like double-sided Barbecue Cleaning Wipes, £4.99, Landmann.
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.
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.
Now that school's out, you might be rethinking your family spaces. Our decorating tips will help you to create a relaxed and practical home that's easy to live with, and which both parents and kids will love
Think family spaces and your mind may conjure up a sea of toys, clutter-covered surfaces and childish colour palettes. But while lots of things change when you have kids – including the way you decorate – that doesn’t mean you can’t create tasteful schemes. Read on, and discover how to use a versatile mix of colour and pattern for a relaxed yet sophisticated look that everyone will love.
Need somewhere for the kids to hang out? Read: Playroom ideas everyone will love
In a living room, go for surfaces that can stand up to hectic family life. A raw-wood table is ideal, as knocks and marks will add character to its appearance, rather than ruining it. Go for a super-comfy sofa that everyone in the family can squash onto.
Simple footstools can act as overflow seating when the kids have got friends round. Add plenty of storage for games and books – baskets beside seating are great for tossing abandoned toys, newspapers and shoes into when you’re having a high-speed tidy-up. Give your scheme a modern, global look with a patterned blind in a bold, tribal print.
Ditch dust-gathering open shelves in a dining room and display plates inside a more practical glazed unit instead. Contemporary dining chairs in bright shades are suitable for informal family meals, but will also look stylish enough for when you’re entertaining.
Whether your decorating personality is classic or urban, a laid-back global look works anywhere. Take your scheme in a more rural direction by replacing the African prints with large-scale, bright, floral prints, or make in industrial by mixing in an area of exposed brick (or a brick-effect wallpaper to fake the look).
Opt for pared-back furniture that doesn’t feel ‘officey’ for a work area within a multipurpose kitchen, dining and living space. Using a large dining table as a desk will provide enough room for two people to work alongside each other. Keep a shared desk area organised by lining up a row of pots for each family member to keep their own pens and pencils in. Fix up wall-mounted task lighting in addition to a desk lamp to prevent strained eyes when working late.
As kids see every floor in the house as a play area, lay soft rugs on bedroom floors and keep a trunk at the foot of the bed to throw discarded toys into for sorting out later. An upholstered headboard and a row of sumptuous cushions will make settling in for a bedtime story comfy.
This is one room where we’d ditch any strong colours for a more relaxing palette. Mum and Dad will enjoy the calming atmosphere when indulging in some precious me time, and cooler tones will soothe little ones as they start their bedtime routine.
More inspiration: Family bathroom design ideas
It’s useful to have a rack within arm’s reach of the bath, so it’s easy to grab a fresh towel to dry off soggy children before they drip all over the floor. Also place a laundry basket nearby so you can ditch dirty clothes in a hurry. A step stool doubles as somewhere to perch while you’re washing behind their ears, and the hand shower isn’t just good for rinsing hair – it’s a big help when you’re cleaning your tub.
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!
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!’
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.’
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.’
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!’
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.
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.
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.’
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!’
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.
Want a wet room, but not sure whether it will work in your home? Read on for the advantages and disadvantages of wet rooms, along with some expert design tips
Wet rooms are becoming more and more desirable, and they’re a great way to add value to your home. But how exactly do you go about designing a wet room? We’ve put together a handy guide with everything you need to know, from what tiles to choose to specialist wet room companies you can contact about installation.
So, can anyone have a wet room?
In theory, yes. Wet rooms are basically shower rooms that do away with the shower screen and tray, and have an open, fully tiled shower area. If your bathroom is on the small side you probably will need to include a shower screen to prevent everything getting sprayed.
Installing a wet room is a job for the professionals, as a gradient needs to be created along the floor to channel the shower water into a drain and then the entire room needs to be tanked (waterproofed).
The most common method for creating a gradient is to install a sub-floor made from WBP Ply (a type of plywood), which is then tiled over.
Another option is to install a ready-made sloping shower former (a bit like a giant shower tray), which is also then tiled over.
A final method is to use a giant preformed tray (sometimes known as a Hi-Macs system) that slopes towards a drain, and can be fitted across the entire floor without the need for tiling over.
Waterproofing wet rooms involves priming the floor, the lower section of the walls and the whole of the wall area around the shower and then covering with a syrupy membrane. Once it’s set, the room is then tiled.
It’s also worth raising the bathroom door threshold by about 5mm from the floor in case the room fills with water (if someone covers the shower drain with a towel, for example). This will keep the water contained.
If a wet room isn’t for you, have a look at our shower room ideas.
What will it cost?
The cost of installing a wet room is usually between £5,000 and £10,000. If you are paying a company to tank and install a wet room, including floor-to-ceiling tiles, suite and shower, expect to pay more. Retailers such as Victoria Plum and Wickes may offer you some ideas or can sell you those little extras you need to complete your wet room.
What type of surface materials should I use?
Tiles are the most popular wall and floor covering, but you can opt for sheet vinyl for the floor, or even Corian, which is a seamless, non-porous material that is low-maintenance. Concrete and tadelakt (a waterproof plaster from Morocco) will lend your wet room a rough luxe look.
If you are going to use tiles, choose non-porous bathroom tiles like ceramic or porcelain. Porous tiles, such as slate, marble and limestone need sealing every few months to prevent water damage. Only use floor tiles specifically for bathrooms on the floor so they aren’t slippery.
Try Topps Tiles for a good selection for your wet room.
Can I install underfloor heating?
Many fitters recommend installing underfloor heating as it keeps the tiles warm underfoot and helps to dry out the water on the floor.
Before you even think about getting the builders in, make sure you have thought through every element of your wet room scheme. From shelving to shower fittings, take your time in the planning stage to ensure that everything will be just as you want it.
Pick your shower fittings
Decide whether or not you want shower valves to be exposed or concealed. Exposed shower valves work well in a modern country scheme and are also easier to install. But if you want a super-sleek look, a fixed rainwater shower head with concealed pipework can’t be beaten. If you only install a fixed shower head, it can be hard to avoid getting your hair wet – annoying if you don’t shampoo every time, and they’re not terribly useful for cleaning the shower. The best solution is to include a handheld shower as well.
Side-by-side showers are perfect for bathrooms designed for sharing,’ says Jonathan Carter at Victoria & Albert Baths. ‘It’s often a style you’ll find in luxury hotels and allows plenty of personal space while making a bold statement. Try pairing with a freestanding tub to enjoy the best of both worlds.’ In this en suite designed by American agency Acre Creative, the floor has been raised and tanked, essentially creating a giant shower tray.
Choose sleek modern drainage
Longing for an invigorating power shower? Then you’ll need to install a drain that can handle high water volumes efficiently. A flush-fitting, channel-style drain collects water across its full width, effectively preventing floods. Look for a drain with an easy access dirt trap to help keep the water running freely.
Create a natural partition without glass
Many wet rooms have a glass panel for containing splashes, but that’s not the only way to section off the shower part of your wet room. A tiled partition wall is also a great way to stop water from flowing all over the room, while providing the easy walk-in access that makes wet rooms so popular.
Allocating a dedicated space for storing shampoo and soap inside your shower area is essential. One of the smartest solutions is niche shelving, which can be built into a stud wall at construction stage. Unlike chrome racks and rails, niche storage doesn’t encroach on your showering space. It’s important to tile the actual shelf on a slight gradient to prevent water from pooling at the back. Add discreet waterproof lighting to softly illuminate.
It’s best to employ a specialist company rather than a separate builder, plumber and tiler. The Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (kbsa.org.uk) and the Federation of Master Builders (fmb.org.uk) both have online databases of specialists in your area. Before choosing a company, ask to see examples of their work.
Bathstore – design and installation of wet rooms (including sanitaryware)
Homebase – supplies wet room panels and kits
Solidity – offers an alternative to tanking using preformed trays known as Hi-Macs
Wetrooms UK – provides a tanking service with a 10-year guarantee
Wetrooms Online – wet room products and installation guides
Have you been converted, or will you be sticking with a more traditional bathroom for now?
The post Wet rooms – the essential guide to creating the perfect space appeared first on Ideal Home.