I just looked over the plant lists for the last six gardens I've designed, and everyone of them contains at least one ornamental grass, even though the design style of each garden varies considerably. If you're turned off by garden photos showcasing huge swaths of grasses and think that's the only way to use them, then you're missing out. Ornamental grasses can be incorporated into any design and are amazing when mixed with other plants.
The client had a straight forward design objective - he wanted his guests to feel they were at a serene and sophisticated spa when hanging out by his new swimming pool. To achieve this, the plant palette is pared down to only a few plants in three colors - green, red and white. The long layered lines and simple layout add to the serenity, but we also want warmth and visual impact. In this design, the Miscanthus variegata has the starring role, adding texture, movement, contrast and a sophisticated visual punch.
Its soft exhuberance also provides an informal counterpoint to the formal boxwood hedge that will eventually grow in in front of it. I talked about the technique of mixing formal with informal to maximize impact in a previous post on combining roses and nepeta. Grasses work well to achieve a fused effect like this, as depending on what you choose and how they are placed, they can be perceived as either.