There are so many styles to choose from with regard to covering your patio that it is really a matter of designing what you want for how you want to use your patio. Some people use their patio for entertaining primarily while others enjoy their backyard space for down time with the family or relaxing poolside. There is no one way to get the most or best use from your patio. Any time spent relaxing and rejuvenating is time well spent.
So, when planning design for your patio cover, don't fret too much over the details. It is just easier to build your structure to your more exact tastes and needs if you know them. Patio covers are not like some home design projects where you get locked into using them in one way. Some kitchen remodels are like this. If you do poor planning, you may get stuck with a kitchen that leaves you with aspects to be desired that you hadn't planned for. With the digital tools available now, it is easier to do good planning and 3-D visual models to assess the usability of a space. These same tools can be used to design your patio cover.
Any larger or more up to date contractor will be able to help you with these types of details, if you need them. Another simple way to design your project is by looking in fine home magazines. There are a number of magazines that showcase certain home characteristics like new kitchen designs and features. The same is true for outdoor patio and backyard spaces. Sometimes, materials and designs you had never thought to build patio covers with will emerge for you. There is always some new designer that has an eye toward future trends or forward thinking ideas.
Another idea to keep in mind for your structure is the patio roof itself. Depending upon how you plan to use your patio space, it could best be done with a fully covered patio or as a semi-open or exposed roof. The full patio roof will be more useful if you plan on having audio-visual equipment beneath your cover, like speakers, flat-screen TVs and other outdoor kitchen appliances. While most outdoor kitchen appliances are made to withstand the outdoors, it can still prolong their life by protecting them. Partially covered roofs, like those found on a pergola, are another attractive option. These can provide that ample shade with great ambiance. One final note on patio cover designs is to consider the local city and neighborhood restrictions regarding building size and height restrictions. If you follow these, your design should come out looking and working great for your outdoor needs.