Matthew (Matt) Lane began building patio covers at age 18. Four years later, he and his wife opened their own business out of their home. While the economy collapsed around them, Lane continued to expand on his expertise — adding landscaping, concrete, masonry, stucco, horticulture and more to his résumé — and their business continued to flourish.
Today, Proficient Patios boasts 50 employees and a 20,000-square-foot showroom consisting of eight creative patio samples that look almost like complete backyards. These vignettes, as Lane calls them, help him to understand his customers’ tastes, even when they, themselves, don’t know what they want.
“Typically, what we try to do is grab a style, whether that be Mediterranean or Tuscan, traditional or contemporary. From there, we just run with it,” he says.
But, of course, it isn’t that simple.
Matt strives for seamlessness in his designs, and this can be difficult to achieve when people want to incorporate too many different colors or mix multiple hardscapes (walking surfaces like pavers and concrete). This hardscape hodgepodging, he explains, is the layperson’s most common patio faux pas.
“There are certain things you want to do to make it flow together,” he explains. Often this means removing the concrete slab already in place and starting from scratch or overlaying another material atop it. Otherwise, “it looks too mismatched, you know?”
Once Lane has inspected a backyard to assess the feasibility of his customer’s outdoor living wish list — including kitchens, barbecues, seating areas, furniture, spas, fire pits, grass, artificial grass and plants — he creates an elaborate three-dimensional model of the prospective patio project to ensure everything really does flow just right in terms of design. Chantal Corcoran
1 Extending the hardscape around the existing pool into the new outdoor kitchen and utilizing the same stone that wraps around the raised hot tub in the focal wall creates a pleasant continuity of design.
2 An aluminum pergola, fabricated to look like dark wood, lends style and shade to outdoor dining, while the lattice design enables airflow.
3 A custom-designed TV wall has built-in and illuminated niche shelving for
4 A dramatic black granite countertop contrasts with warm daffodil stucco of both the outdoor room and the house’s exterior paint, creating a rich and inviting gathering space.
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