Large areas of paving can feel overwhelming and, let's face it, just a bit sterile.  We look at ideas to make a large patio feel like home.

Large patio of Raj Green sandstone, breaking up the area with different colour.
Raj Green Sandstone offers plenty of colour variation to break up this wide patio designed by Landart.

A wide house, a deep return, or just for the sake of convenience—these are all reasons why you might end up with a large patio. The problem is that it could end up feeling like an airport runway. We give you large patio ideas that will stop that happening.

Choose paving with colour variation

Choosing a natural stone with plenty of colour variation (such as Raj Green Sandstone) can be one answer.  If paving is uniform in pattern and colour, it draws attention to the shape and extent of the area. Break it up and immediately those aspects become less obvious.

A bonus is that the large expanse will showcase colour variations in paving in a way that a small, restricted area cannot. This makes it a truly artistic addition in its own right.

Jura Beige and Tumbled mint sett patio at back of cream-coloured Edwardian house.
Designer Kathy Taylor included Tumbled Mint setts and Jura Beige limestone paving to complement the colour and design features of this extended Edwardian house.

Textural Variations

Textural changes should always be considered. They encourage the eye to linger on some areas and pick out others, thus creating parts within a whole and drawing attention away from the wider space. Setts are the most obvious design tool for this.

Use paving setts

It was an approach used by garden designer Kathy Taylor when she was commissioned to redesign a garden after clients had added an extension to their Edwardian house.

She lighted on a clever combination that we hadn’t seen before—Jura Beige limestone paving and Tumbled Mint setts. Although they’re different stones—the setts are of sandstone—the soft beige base colour in the limestone is picked up by the setts, so they blend beautifully.

And why did she do that? “Because it breaks the space up,” said Kathy. “Large areas of paving aren’t very attractive.” (Find more ideas of how to design paving with setts.)

Smooth pebbles are an alternative to setts. These can usefully encourage a certain pathway across a space as people are less likely to tread on them.  They also introduce a more three-dimensional texture than mortared paving.

Put a large patio in context

Integrating the patio with adjacent architecture or landscape will improve the sense of proportion. Kathy’s design did exactly this when she chose paving that complemented the creamy-yellow walls of the house.

Choosing small details that link the patio to its surroundings also helps make it feel part of the overall situation. Those with sharp eyes will notice that Kathy included setts to create an echo of the glazing in windows, where large rectangles of glass are topped by small square panes. 

So, through colour and shape, the horizontal plane of the patio is immediately tied to the vertical walls, marrying house and hard landscaping into a united whole—something which reduces the visual impact of a large patio and sets it comfortably into place.

Zone your patio

Wide patio in Dove Grey sandstone with inset Antique red clay pavers. Pergola and steps to swimming pool.
This wide patio has been zoned with the insertion of Antique Red clay pavers into the Dove Grey sandstone. Designed and built by Graduate Landscapes.

The different uses to which you put your patio—dining, barbecuing, lounging—make it a reasonable decision to delineate them by inserting a different texture and colour. Conveniently, this also breaks up a large expanse of paving.

Clay pavers or composite decking, for example, introduce a contrasting texture to paving slabs as well as a huge choice of colour and style.

Firepit and sunken seating circle in wide patio by Graduate Landscapes
The bespoke curves of the paving edging the sunken firepit contrast with the rectilinear paving which has been chosen for its varied slab sizes in this design by Graduate Landscapes.

Contrasting colour can be used to outline different areas, but also consider insetting blocks of different materials to make a substantial textured break, as in the fire pit surround above.

Consider sunken seating

Sunken seating area in large patio of Heath sawn sandstone, with topiary features.
This sunken seating area creates an intimate space in this large patio, and creates sun-trap seating. Design by Earth Landscapes.

Rectangular or round sunken seating areas are a great way to add contour to a large patio, while also adding inbuilt shelter that can catch the sun.

Slab size variations

But don't forget the subtleties of paving patterns as you gather your large patio idea. Something as simple as varying the size and shape of the paving slabs themselves will break up an area. Plank paving designs include framing a zone for dining tables and chairs, or suggesting a pathway within the paving towards a feature further away in the garden.

Inserting curves

A sinuous edge to a large patio softens the outline, drawing attention away from the size.

However, another way to insert curves is with a paving circle. A large garden affords plenty of space to display sculpture, add a pond, fountains or other features that could overwhelm a small space. Our sandstone paving circles, which match our Indian stone range, make the perfect hard landscaping choice for highlighting these features. A circle, set within a lawn, large shrub border or in an area of gravel, will break up the expanse or create a zone. As a bonus, the curved edges make a striking contrast with rectangular or square pavers surrounding it.  And don't forget our bespoke stone-masonry service is able to cut and finish any of our pavings to your design.

We hope these large patio ideas have stirred your creativity. But what if you have a small space? We give you ideas of paving for the smaller garden.

Updated: September 2023