Playful paving

Bits of tile add fresh color and movement to paths and patios

Lauren Bonar Swezey and Julie Chai

Renovating a patio or a path provides the perfect opportunity to bring a touch of whimsy to the garden. With the ground as your canvas, you can use patterns and colors that echo the hues of your flowers and furnishings.

Or think bigger: imagine seeing the Milky Way overhead and replicating it underfoot. All you need are tiles (or tile pieces) in colors that complement their surroundings, and a little imagination.

STARDUST SANCTUARY (pictured at left)

When landscape designer Kathy Kane redesigned her backyard, she incorporated a secluded space for contemplation. Her 10-foot by 10-foot "blue room" features a celestial-patterned mosaic that Kane created herself in two days for less than $100. "I've always liked paving that has a lot of interest," she says. "This design reminds me of stardust."

To make her mosaic, Kane used ceramic tiles (sold as remnants for $10 per box), which she broke into fragments. Before installing them, she put down a 2-inch-thick layer of base rock, settling it with a compactor from an equipment rental yard. She used spray paint to outline her pattern on the base rock (pictured above). Then she placed plastic netting over the pattern and laid tile fragments on the netting, securing each piece with Liquid Nails adhesive. After allowing the adhesive to dry overnight, she filled in the space between tile pieces with decomposed granite.

Design: Kane Design and Associates, Menlo Park, CA (650/326-4850)

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