Paving the Way

Patios reach new heights with the latest materials
A geometric walkway accented by grass leads to this East Jordan waterfront. Photography Courtesy High Format

With outdoor rooms in high demand, patios set the stage for al fresco living. As emerging trends demonstrate, this designated section of a property, especially in a lakefront setting, provides a sophisticated transition from inside to out.

Defined by pavers and stones, patios are meant to stand out from the rest of the yard as a place to unwind or host family and friends in a natural environment. Here are a few of the latest sought-after styles.

One recent move has been toward large format materials instead of the traditional bricks and smaller intricate designs that were prevalent in previous years, said Daryl Toby, owner of AguaFina Gardens International in Sylvan Lake ( “The larger plank allows for geometric forms. Just the scale of it allows the landscape to read better and not compete with the paving material because your eyes aren’t stuck on all the little details.”

Stone steps and boulders lead to a deck and patio area made from a wood alternative. Photography Courtesy George Dzahristos

For the outside of a home Toby enhanced in Farmington Hills, the exterior walkway makes a statement, as does the patio with 42×42-inch pavers where the fire feature was made with the same material as the steps. The cohesiveness helps to blend various elements. “It’s best not to have so many different materials on the same property,” said Toby. Here, the indoor fireplace repeats the polished black granite that tops the outdoor fire feature for more visual consistency.

Another landscaping project, with an Asian-inspired garden and a patio beneath the overhang of a lakefront house in Bloomfield Hills, features antique pavers reclaimed from the ancient streets of China. “It’s an amazing material,” said Toby who found distinct carvings depicting fish on one of the centuries-old stones.

In addition to the aesthetic preferences that can narrow down the vast selection of materials, a patio should be functional and flexible for the end user. For instance, the substantial layouts often associated with lakefront properties may be great for entertaining purposes, but they can feel empty for a party of two. “When designing a patio space, smaller areas help segment it a little bit, so it can transition to a large space when company comes and be more intimate for every day,” Toby said.

Outside Influence

Currently, Bob Conklin, who handles product support and development for HIGH FORMAT (formerly Rosetta) in Charlevoix (, a company known for high-end landscape materials, also has noticed a shift toward larger formats for patios and walkways. “There are more rectilinear shapes and long clean lines with less curves,” he said. “There are also more mid-century-inspired designs with a move toward more grays and beiges in the color palette.”

In the past, Conklin noted there were a lot of red tones and blended colors with current styles leaning toward more solid shades. For contrast, large format slabs can be framed with reclaimed brick like a patio in Kalamazoo that features their Miros pavers and Kodah garden blocks for a freestanding wall.

Large pavers are used to create a patio with a fire feature. Photography Courtesy George Dzahristos

A geometric walkway leading to a waterfront patio in East Jordan, where both are accented by grass, shows the unique application of today’s denser materials that allow for greater durability and more detail. Some even feature a salt-proof surface. Other products that lend texture to these types of settings include their selection of fire pit and fireplace kits, column caps and garden blocks for retaining and freestanding walls.

As staycations become a regular way of life, the popularity of these outdoor spaces shows no sign of slowing down. For the past decade, said Conklin, the trend to invest in the quality of living has people entertaining more often in their own backyards. That sounds like a perfect opportunity for a new patio. ≈

Jeanine Matlow is a Detroit-based writer who loves writing about homes and home décor.

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