Modern paving ideas: 13 ways with tiles, slabs and stone for a contemporary look
Discover our modern paving ideas for an instant update to your outdoor space
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These modern paving ideas are exactly what you need if you’re after a fresh new look for your plot. Not only does paving add colour and texture, it also helps to structure your space. Lay paving down and you have an instant seating area, pathway or relaxation spot near the pool. They are a perfect addition to our other modern garden ideas.
Abbas Youssefi, Director of Porcelain Superstore (opens in new tab), says, 'Outdoor tiles have so much to offer for anyone looking to create an outside living area. Not only do they look gorgeous, but unlike wooden decking they require minimum maintenance to look fantastic. What’s more, they are incredibly durable and hardwearing, as well as effortlessly stylish. They are the perfect foundation on which to build your outdoor living space.'
You can find all kinds of varieties when it comes to paving. For a contemporary look, try more minimal designs – think smooth surfaces in natural stones. You can also create an indoor-outdoor feel by using the same paving material throughout the house and into the garden.
A bold pattern can do wonders if you’re looking for something a bit jazzier – choose geometric shapes to keep things on-trend. The right paving can really transform a garden, and become a feature in itself. So, keep reading to get inspired by our favourite modern paving ideas.
1. Interlay slabs with gravel to zone spaces
Porcelain pavers in a grey concrete effect make a striking statement in a contemporary garden, and are durable too. Look for ones with a slightly weathered look for a softer, more characterful vibe.
To mix up the aesthetic and add an extra dose of interest, interlay with fine gravel in a bright white. You can try widening the gaps in places, to separate off different garden zones – as seen here for the seating area.
2. Try a smooth natural stone for timeless appeal
Natural sandstone is a beautifully distinct modern paving solution. It's soft, honeyed hue will add warmth to any outdoor space without being overbearing.
A great option for minimalists, it pairs well with simple outdoor furniture, accent pieces, and lots of fresh greenery. It looks stunning here offset with flashes of red, alongside the stripped-back outdoor fireplace.
3. Make an impact with dark colours
Grey gardens are all the rage right now, so why not embrace the trend with your paving? It will add the perfect contemporary look to any modern garden.
These dark, rectangular slabs are positioned horizontally across the plot, helping to make it appear wider. Using a light, white grouting in between each stone gives them a lift, adding a subtle monochrome vibe. These ones from Tile Mountain (opens in new tab) offer the high-end appearance of granite, for a more affordable price than the real deal.
4. Go light and bright with white
Wondering how to make a small garden look bigger? Using sleek, white porcelain paving will make a space look larger and brighter, as well as super-modern.
Positioning the slabs without any visible grouting creates a smooth, sophisticated aesthetic. To really create a sense of cohesion, blend the flooring across levels – as demonstrated here.
'White paving brings a crisp, contemporary look,' says Abbas Youssefi, director of Porcelain Superstore. 'It’s fuss-free and really gives the rest of the outside space, the luscious greenery and vibrant flowerbeds, a chance to shine.' Offset with minimal furniture and chrome features to finish the look.
5. Create an outdoor rug effect with complementary colours
By pairing complementary colours you can create separate areas to your patio with subtle borders.
A soft grey provides a beautifully subtle edge to a central rectangle, laid in a lighter hued tile. It gives a pared-back, low-maintenance look to an outdoor seating area, without the need for a separate outdoor rug.
This one is a good option for smaller plots as well as large, for an instant modern update.
6. Mix it up with subtle patterns
For large modern gardens, using areas of patterned paving is a great trick to add interest and break up your plot.
Give it a go and make a feature of your flooring for your outdoor dining ideas. It will help draw the eye to focal points and provide a ton of style. Go subtle for a sophisticated look, and choose hues which complement the rest of your garden's theme.
Try using the pattern in other areas too as this will create a sense of cohesion. Check out the detail on the wide step leading up the patio, for example.
7. Try terracotta tones
Fancy a slightly more rustic look to your patio but want to do it in a modern way? Then try introducing a touch of terracotta hues and subtle texture to your stone.
This sandstone paving comes in a palette of natural, sunset tones with subtle veining – making each paver unique. Mix-match the size for a relaxed, eclectic feel.
It looks great with bohemian-chic decor in sumptuous colours. We love the upcycled pallet-table! If you do too, check out our favourite creative ways to use pallets in your garden.
8. Use indoor-outdoor tiles to blur the boundaries
These porcelain tiles from The London Tile Co (opens in new tab) are great for making your garden an extension of your living area. Suitable for both indoors and outdoors, you can create a seamless flow right through your space.
Using the same paving across different levels and steps continues the sleek aesthetic, and results in a fuss-free, contemporary look. Go for a subtly distressed effect and neutral colour to complement your furniture with ease.
9. Try jumbo-sized slabs to enhance the feeling of space
If you're lucky enough to own a pool, try surrounding it with large, square pavers. It adds a feeling of space, as well as making a pared-back statement. For added interest, create a checkerboard effect with a pair of ever-so-slightly different hues.
What's more, tiles with a slight sheen will help to bounce reflections from the water, creating a brighter and more welcoming environment.
You'll find plenty more backyard pool ideas in our inspiring guide.
10. Go bold with black and white
Speaking of checkerboards, if you're after a bolder impact, why not take inspiration from the past?
Although this look is inspired by the Victorians, we think its strong lines, geometric shapes and monochrome colours bring it right up to date for a more contemporary aesthetic. It can easily be used to create a modern yet timeless look.
This is a perfect look if you want to make a statement with your garden path ideas.
11. Go for irregular shapes
We love this patio made of irregular-shaped, natural stone slabs. It adds an extra oomph to the outdoor kitchen ideas pictured, whilst complementing the nearby stone wall perfectly.
Keeping a soft, cohesive palette keeps the design from looking busy. It also draws the eye to the angular lines and sleek finishes of the furniture. Framed by the lush green foliage, it's all you need for a fuss-free, stylish scene.
12. Jazz it up with geometric patterns
Sometimes, bolder is better, especially for a smaller space. So, if squares aren't your thing, then why not opt for interlocking triangles? Their sharp lines will add a clean, modern look, and used in a duo of monochrome colours, will add a sense of fun to your space.
Pair with a brightly-painted wall, furniture, and containers full of spiky succulents – a great way to make an impact in courtyard gardens or on smaller patios.
13. Embrace an urban look
Modern paving doesn't always have to look sparkling new to be effective. For a more rough and ready look, try large tiles with a worn, industrial-plaster effect.
These dark and distressed tiles from Tile Giant (opens in new tab) are a good choice for an urban chic space. They also help the nearby foliage to pop with its fresh green colour.
What is the cheapest type of modern paving?
For the cheapest type of modern paving, look for square, smooth, stone slabs. Typically available in a grey or natural tone, they will still look incredibly smart despite their lower cost. Choosing a design with a bit of texture will typically add to the price.
Rectangular ones, more interesting colours, and bigger sizes will increase the cost. But shop around to find the best prices. You can often find good deals in the sale and often stores offer bulk sets, based on the size of an area you're looking for.
And of course, the very cheapest option is to improve what you already have! The best patio cleaners can transform grime-covered paving slabs, so it's always worth giving a bit of elbow grease a go if you've inherited some unsightly slabs.
What is a good alternative to modern paving?
Gravel makes a cheaper alternative to modern paving, and can work in a contemporary space. Try ones in block-colour shades, such as 'Black Basalt' (opens in new tab) or 'Polar White (opens in new tab)' from Gravelmaster (opens in new tab).
Decking is a popular but slightly pricier alternative for modern gardens – check out our decking ideas for inspiration.
Can I lay new, modern paving on top of old paving?
Laying new, modern paving on top of old paving is do-able, but it's not really advised. There are two reasons why. Firstly, for structural reasons. If your underlying paving starts to move, or isn't that well-laid in the first place, then the new slabs can be effected, resulting in a wobbly, uneven surface over time.
Secondly, you might want to consider the height – how big are your new pavers? Will the overall result look too tall if you add them onto what's already there? Will it look out of kilter with the other elements of your garden – the lawn, for example?
But, if you're really short on time, then laying over the originals might be your only option. As long as your existing pavers are in good shape (repair any holes if needed), and clean, then you can add landscaping fabric and paving sand straight on top, or mortar if you're using it.
Head over to our feature on how to lay a patio for a step-by-step guide on creating a paved outdoor space.
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The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.
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