Sometimes the most visually satisfying patios result from the juxtaposition of contrasting materials or from unexpected combinations of similar ones. The effects can be subtle or stimulating, depending on the mixture and the medium. A patio laid primarily in rectangular-cut flagstones can seem a little less formal with smaller pieces of contrasting stone placed here and there or grouped in a border. A dark brick patio edged with white crushed stone appears crisp and tailored. A light concrete surface accented with bright tile stripes takes on visual punch. Contrasting colors and textures are especially effective in bringing plain masonry to life and drawing the eye away from potentially monotonous surfaces.
Special effects can be achieved through pattern, too. And although brick is the material most often associated with pattern, concrete pavers, cut stone, tile, and small smooth rocks all lend themselves to unusual -- even elaborate -- designs.