People attend "open houses" for many reasons....one of them is to obtain ideas. To that end, we recommend attending open houses to actually see as many finished products as possible. You should focus on keeping this area as close to the home as possible. Having to walk a distance can seriously effect the amount of use you get from this space.
Part of the fun of doing a project like this is enjoying the hunt......the perfect patio is one that does not exist but will at some point in the future.
Novell Landscaping 630-903-9735
Finishing the patio with some nice plants, bushes or other features (like a fire pit for example) will help add warmth and comfort to the patio. Just make sure you do not spend too much because it will make it hard to get a return on your investment in the end.
Good Luck with your project.
Coldwell Banker Wheaton