Tile trends come and go but, for the most part, our preferences for grouting have remained the same. This is largely to do with it being more of a practicality, a as opposed to a conscious feature of our designs. As a result, grouting has actually become more inconspicuous as the years go by, with finer lines accompanying larger, monolithic tiles. Or at least that was the case, until now.
Chunky, oversized grouting has been a recurring theme in bathrooms and kitchens of late, offering a more graphic, playful look on the walls or floor. From rustic, artisanal terracotta flooring to asymmetrical, geometric patterns on shower walls, this grouting idea is certainly defining the modern bathrooms and kitchens of 2023.
Here we take a look at some of our favorite ways designers and brands are embracing it, with a few words of advice on how to execute the look in your own home.
If there's one thing California-based brand clé tile does best it's a modern take on traditional, artisanal tiles with distinctive patinas, as shown in the warm terracotta design above. The contemporary twist that ties it all together? Supersized grouting.
'We think of this design in clé flemish red Belgian terracotta (opens in new tab) as a textile weave in tile form, both familiar and unexpected, structured and organic, modern and timeless,' says Deborah Osburn (opens in new tab), founder of clé tile. 'The extra-large grout joint accentuates "the woven" and more graphic characteristics of this tile combination, while the warm terracotta tones make the installation more tactile and grant an extra-earthy quality to it.'
Uniquely irregular multi-sized and multi-shaped tile combinations work particularly well with an oversized grouting idea, such as triangular tesselations or circle and losange tile formations When it comes to using different-sized tiles in a design however, Deborah warns that not all tiles will work for the job. 'The reason the combination shown here works particularly well with mixing and matching is because it looks great with large grout joints, and larger joints allow for more size discrepancies between shapes,' she says. 'The look is more modern and less expected.'
If you're worried about the practicality of statement grouting on a floor, try incorporating it as a bathroom wall tile idea instead, as shown in this tiled shower by Urbanology Designs.
For a visually striking idea, try experimenting with different-sized grouting joints within the same design. The vertical slim lines between the rectangular tiles are more akin to the sort of tiling designs that have dominated the last few years, but the chunky, horizontal joints between each row make for a more unique, contemporary look.
As interior designer Ginger Curtis (opens in new tab), president of Urbanology Designs, explains, 'the oversized grouting creates a secondary pattern without only relying on the tile.' Used here in her fellow designer's bathroom, it creates a clean, neutral feel with the generous white space. 'She was going for an organic, minimal, and modern vibe,' adds Ginger. 'We were trying to embrace something a little more unexpected but not overpowering.'
If you're still worried about the risk of dirt or mold finding its way onto your chunky white grouting idea, why not give colored grouting a go instead? The tiled wall in this bar inverts tradition by making the grouting the star of the show, with the white space created by the tiles themselves as opposed to the grout. Arranged at off-center angles, they make for a playful visual effect.
Designed by Note Design Studio, the bar area of the Tysta Mari restaurant in Stockholm also makes use of glazed tiles rather than natural stone, offering a contrasting texture to the mattified grout and surrounding ceramic features for a more dynamic look.
It's another brave, bold take on a simple tile idea, encapsulating exactly what this latest tile trend is all about - and we can't wait to give it a go ourselves.
Is oversized grouting practical?
While chunky grouting is certainly having a moment, it's not a look for everyone; and it's not always practical either. 'For clients looking for easily cleaned and maintained floors, wide grout joints (particularly using light grout) are always a difficult choice,' Deborah from clé tile explains. 'But if you relish a finish that has more depth, texture, and warmth, terracotta floors with large grout joints are extremely inviting and offer so much visual texture - and actual texture - underfoot.'
However, according to Ginger at Urbanology Designs, practicality shouldn't be too much of a concern. 'In fact, it's easier to clean than tiny, impossible-to-clean grout lines,' she claims.
It's best not to attempt installation on your own, though. An expert tiler is recommended if you want the best finish possible, as well as a high-quality impregnating sealer.
Where can I buy tiles online?
Everyone's favorite DIY store has a surprisingly broad tile choice to consider for your bathroom reno.
You might not expect to be able to find tiles on Wayfair, but there's plenty of innovative options if you don't mind not seeing samples before buying.
For your everyday porcelain and ceramic tiles, Lowes has a great selection to choose from in modern styles.
Lilith Hudson is the Junior Writer on Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news articles for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration that you need in your home. She discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. Lilith now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London (a degree where she could combine both) and has previously worked at the Saturday Times Magazine, ES Magazine, DJ Mag and The Simple Things Magazine.
A gas grill you can take with you anywhere, the Weber Traveler blew our reviewer away
We test the Weber Traveler, a portable and functional grill that just about anyone can use.
By Michelle Mastro • Published
Are kitchen islands outdated? Six experts decide on the biggest debate in design right now
A kitchen island has long been a status symbol, but has it finally lost its luster? Top designers decide if it's still a priority for your decor
By Cat Olley • Published