Easy Ways to Add Personality to Outdoor Spaces

Easy Ways to Add Personality to Outdoor Spaces

My husband and I have found easy ways to add personality to outdoor spaces around our home lately. I told you about My Happy Place that I created on our front porch back in April.  I sit there almost everyday either alone or with Bill when he gets home from work. But sometimes we want more privacy and plus, we have a big backyard that hasn’t been enjoyed much these last few years. These two boys would love it if we spent more time there. Especially if we bring the tennis balls and racquet with us!

play ball dogs

We aren’t ready to make the big changes we want to our backyard – new landscaping, new patio, raised garden beds, sitting area and more – but we have been able to add some new touches that give our somewhat dull backyard a little more personality without breaking the bank.

Fifteen years ago, we bought a Martha Stewart patio table and chairs from Kmart. For $350, we sure got our money’s worth (I think that works out to a dollar a month!). It finally rusted and was about to fall apart so we got rid of it last summer, thank goodness. After shopping around we decided to buy this table and chair set from Home Depot.

patio dining table

Once the hard part of finding a dining set we liked that was within our budget was done, it was time to decorate! I hung these darling Mason jar lanterns (similar) that Tori, my stepdaughter, gave me as a gift. I bought some twine at the hardware store and hung them from tree branches.

mason jar lanterns

Bill had the brilliant idea to add corks to the bottom of the jars, serving three purposes: 1) it gives us something to do with all our saved up corks.

cork lantern

2) Elevates the tea light so it gets more oxygen and is easier to reach when you need to change it out.

mason jar lanterns pink

3) It’s Wine Country cute!

mason cork lantern

Tori bought lanterns in a few different colors.

hanging jar lanterns

I love the way the sun shines through the colorful jars.

sun setting lanterns

And when dusk falls, the candles really glow.

lanterns tea lights

We thought it might be nice to add even more lighting and bought some cheap battery-operated tea lights on Amazon. When I think we will be spending more than an hour outside in the evenings, I will take the time to turn them on and place them along our rustic fences.

battery tea lights

I love the look when night falls.

night lights

We also added some greenery – some of it edible – to our backyard. We used to have grass but the dogs and chickens destroyed it. We thought no grass at all would be better than unhealthy patches here and there so we tore it out. We have added some containers to the backyard for now, until we decide what to do about the landscaping. Whatever we do, chances are it won’t be grass again.

planter garden

We also bought some veggies and herbs to plant in planters. We are growing tomatoes, padron peppers, lettuce, basil, tarragon, thyme, and sage. And my husband is planning on planting a few rows of corn into the ground soon.

I harvested some basil last night and made a caprese salad to go with dinner.

basil plant

I planted some succulents in these pots. The smaller Jade plant is on our front patio and the bowl-shaped planter I keep on our outdoor dining table.

succulents and veggies

I was inspired to make the succulent bowl after seeing a similar one at the Sunset Magazine event in Sonoma last month.

sunset succulents

We hung two hummingbird feeders and have been seeing lots of activity from these cute little birds. I often take my new camera out with me to see if I can capture some up-close shots of them. I think I have to take 100+ photos to get one like this!

hummingbird upclose

Yesterday we turned an old rusted fire pit we haven’t used in many years into a succulent garden.

prepping fire pit planter

We shopped for succulents, which is as fun for me as shoe shopping and that’s saying something! Of course I had to plant them while wearing my succulent apron, a gift from my wonderful friend, Abi of Abi’s Farmhouse Kitchen, and my new gardening hat with SPF 50+ protection to keep the sun off my face.


I decided to add a candle to the garden. I took a cheap vase, filled it with corks and topped it off with a tea light candle.

cork candle

The key is getting the corks at the top to lay flat so your candle will sit level. It takes some arranging.

lighting candle succulent

Here is the finished project. I love it and I love that we were able to repurpose this fire pit rather than throwing it away.

firepit succulent

I bought these darling pastel Mason-jar-inspired vases at Safeway last week for $6.00 each (similar) and filled them up with fresh sunflowers.

mason jar vases

I leave them indoors on our mantle most of the time but they are fun to bring outside when setting the table for dinner.

ceramic mason jars

There are so many other things I would love to do to our backyard but for now, these additions have made dining or enjoying breakfast al fresco….

breakfast al fresco

sipping a glass of wine while watching the sun go down…

VML wine

gardening…Planting succulents

and playing with the dogs much more enjoyable – and frequent!

murphy in a hat

Do you have a backyard or patio?

If so, how do you like to add personality and ambiance to your outdoor spaces?


Make it a rich day!




  1. Kathy
    June 13, 2016 / 5:35 pm

    It all looks so great and inviting. I love all the succulents too. And those mason jars, all of them are great and I might be copying you and hanging them from our trees. Yes, we do have a small outdoor living room and an big eating and cooking area in our backyard. It was a huge priority for us to have the backyard useable, as we like to be outside, but it has to be inviting and comfortable. You’ve done a great job on yours, and that apron is adorable.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      June 14, 2016 / 7:28 am

      Aren’t the Mason jar lanterns cute? They would be easy to make – you can buy the handles and tea light holders on Amazon or at a craft store, I would imagine.
      I love your backyard – so relaxing and lush too. I hope we can make some big changes to our backyard one of these days. In the meantime, these little additions are helping us to like it better! xo, A

  2. Vickie
    June 14, 2016 / 4:42 am

    Beautiful! It’s amazing what we can do with snall changes!ive been wanting to plant succulents but our weather here is so unpredictable! 93 one dat next 52! Lol I’ll have to show you what I’ve did! We live on a canal and no backyard all decking!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      June 14, 2016 / 7:05 am

      Hi Vickie,

      I find that succulents are pretty sturdy plants – especially if you get the succulents that like full sun. I checked all the information tags on the succulents I bought to make sure they all said full sun because we have very hot days and cool mornings here too. My question is what to do with these outdoor succulent planters when winter hits? I will need to research that. I can’t imagine they would survive rainy cold days and frost. I certainly can’t bring that big rusty fire pit inside my home!
      Must be lovely to live on a canal…peaceful, I would think.

  3. June 14, 2016 / 5:10 am

    Love these ideas and will store them away for next summer when we will have moved back to California!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      June 14, 2016 / 6:57 am

      Hi Juhli,
      It’s so lovely to hear from you! Happy to hear you’re moving back to California. Northern or southern? A

  4. June 14, 2016 / 1:03 pm

    Such a fabulous post full of so many great ideas, Adrienne. I’ve already started saving the wine corks to make tealight arrangements like yours. So much is screw-cap here though that it could take a while 🙂 Plus, I’m leaving it up to my husband to drink the wine…

    Thank you so much for the lovely review you left on Amazon, you are a sweetheart!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      June 17, 2016 / 8:08 am

      Oh yes, those Sauv Blancs usually come with a screw top these days.
      You are most welcome for the review. It’s a wonderful read. I keep it on my nightstand and love how I can just open a page and read it – instant inspiration! Happy weekend! xo, A

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