The Best Artificial Christmas Tree

*All review posts are my own opinions. I was not paid to provide this review and did not receive any free products in exchange for it.

Growing up, we always had a real Christmas tree. It was so much fun getting bundled up, traveling to the farm, and helping to find “the perfect tree.” So when my husband and I decided to buy an artificial tree this year, it HAD to be the closest to real as it could get (without breaking the budget)!

Amazon wasn’t really the first place I thought of to purchase an artificial tree but since 99% of my shopping comes from there, I figured why not do a quick search. About five minutes later, I found THE best artificial Christmas tree. The National Tree 7.5 Foot Carolina Pine Tree with Flocked Cones and 750 Clear Lights was the one I was envisioning. It was more than I wanted to spend (of course); however, what set this tree apart from the others was that the needles had different textures and colors. Some were dark green and smaller while others were lighter and longer. Because of this variation, the tree looks ridiculously real. It even has pinecones!

National Tree 7.5 Foot Carolina Pine Tree with Flocked Cones and 750 Clear Lights, Hinged (CAP3-306-75)

the best artificial christmas tree

It is really so full and beautiful. I am extremely pleased with our decision. The tree arrived with no damage, was easy and quick to assemble, and comes with a 5 year tree/2 year light warranty. It took me approximately 2 hours to fluff but that’s because I wanted it perfect!

There was only one major issue: we missed the “real Christmas tree” scent. Sure, there are tons of plug-ins, candles, sprays, etc that try to mimic the smell but I never found one that was 100% believable until this year!! Researching the truest Christmas tree scent, I stumbled upon the Thymes Frasier Fir product line. After reading the insane reviews on how incredibly real this scent is, I figured I would try the Thymes Frasier Fir Reed Diffuser and wax melt. The reed diffuser is expensive. (They have candles, mists, hand wash, cleaning sprays, and sink sets available at lower prices.) To be honest, I only tried it because the reviews said it lasts approximately the same length of time you would go through several candles and plug-ins. I had some very high expectations after all of the glowing reviews I read and have to admit that they were accurate! Just the diffuser alone has filled my whole house with the most pleasant, fresh, you-just-walked-into-a-Christmas-tree-forest heavenly scent. It is a strong, clean smell but not overpowering at all. I cannot wait to try their other scents. They have other holiday ones such as Gingerbread, Hot Cocoa, and Simmered Cider. Additionally, there are many other regular scents offered for use throughout the rest of the year. I have had the diffuser and wax melt for about 3 weeks now. The diffuser is still going strong. The wax melt lasted about 2 days, depending on how long you let it burn.french country christmas decor, farmhouse christmas decor, best artificial christmas treefrench country christmas decor, farmhouse christmas decor, best artificial christmas tree

Products in this Post


 

Shop This Look in Our Decor Shop:

Best French Country Farmhouse Decor Online

Safavieh Florida Shag Collection Review

*All review posts are my own opinions. I was not paid to provide this review and did not receive any free products in exchange for it.

When we renovated our living room, we installed hardwood floors and needed an area rug for our furniture. After much research, we chose the Safavieh Florida Shag Collection SG455-1113 Scrolling Vine Cream and Beige Graceful Swirl Square Area Rug (8′ Square) on Amazon. I was a little worried buying it online since you cannot see the true colors and texture but I am truly impressed with the quality of this rug.

It arrived wrapped in plastic with fabric protectors on each end. When I opened it, there was no discernible smell. The bottom of the rug is soft so I wasn’t concerned about it scratching my floors. It will probably move unless you have furniture on it (we have our sofas on it partially and it has stayed in place).

The pile is very thick which surprised me for such a reasonably priced rug! It is soft and cushy – my boys love playing on it. We had a difficult time deciding what color to get as they have many beautiful designs/colors. Our sofas are tan, walls are Light French Gray by Sherwin Williams, and hardwood floors are a grayish-brown (Bruce American Vintage Wolf Run Oak). Therefore, we needed something to tie the warm colors of the furniture in with the cool wall/floor colors. This rug does just that. It is a cream color with tan (brown) swirls.

 

 

 

 

 

The rug vacuums with no issues whatsoever. We have a Dyson vacuum and I use the beater bar on it – no snags or pulls. While we do not have pets, we do have two young, extremely active boys who love to play on the rug and it has exceeded my expectations in terms of durability. I am very pleased with my purchase and will be buying another Safavieh rug for my dining room!

 

Shop This Look in Our Decor Shop:

Best French Country Farmhouse Decor Online

Transforming Warm to Cool Colored Rooms: Our French Country Farmhouse Renovation

When we purchased our “forever” home, we knew we eventually would renovate most of the house. It was built in 1987 so it had fun 80’s features: popcorn ceiling, wood trim, wood kitchen cabinets, clam shell bathroom sink, etc. “Eventually” became this year after we had to replace the roof in our living room when I discovered water trickling down the wall one morning. Awesome! (That was a HUGE project we completed ourselves! Replacing a roof is no joke.) Anyway, due to the significant water damage, we had to replace the drywall on one side of the living room. And so it began.

The new drywall led to a new back door to the deck which led to a wood pallet wall I always wanted to build. The pallet wall led to the fireplace having to be repainted. Then, we figured why not replace the popcorn ceiling with shiplap and the berber carpeting with hardwood floors?!? No sweat, lol. Next, we (meaning I as my husband points out) ventured into the kitchen – painting the cabinets with white chalk  paint to match our French Country Farmhouse renovation style. Of course, when they were finished, I had to refinish the kitchen table in a farmhouse style to complete the look.  Why stop there? My husband awoke one morning to find me painting all the trim in our guest bathroom and hallway white along with the bathroom vanity and mirror. He loved that his to-do list just tripled! I also let him know that we would be completing another accent wall – a stone veneer wall in the bathroom. I partnered with AirStone for this project.

Part One: The Living Room & Kitchen

I always loved the look of soft gray walls. However, our entire home color scheme was warm colors (beige, brown, red). We didn’t have the option of replacing our sofas so I had to figure out a way to tie in tan furniture with our new colors of gray, white, and black. It can be done!

I began with the wall and floor colors. Light French Gray by Sherwin Williams was definitely the color I was set on for all the walls (living room, kitchen, hallway, and bathroom). I love it that much! Gray is such a difficult color to choose because so many factors affect the way it looks (light, direction of the room, surroundings, etc.). I bought a few samples and tried them on my walls before deciding that Light French Gray was the “truest” gray for our home. The wood pallet wall plays off the same scheme of whites, grays, and a little beige to bring in the furniture color. For the floor, I wanted that old, distressed barn wood look. It took me forever to decide because hardwood floors are so expensive and I am picky! Bruce American Vintage Wolf Run Oak was the perfect fit. With 5 inch planks and scraped texture, it resembled the wide barn wood style I was trying to reproduce. It was brown but had beautiful gray overtones that complimented the room color palette.

The fireplace needed simplicity with the accent wall surrounding it. Therefore, I painted the mantel white with chalk paint and the tile surround Sherwin Williams Weathershield tinted with Valspar Hazy Stratus (Satin). I was going for a deeper shade of gray but similar to the walls.

Painting the kitchen cabinets was a time-consuming project but really completed the French Country Farmhouse style since it is an open floor layout that flows into the living room. The white brightens up the room and gives it such a clean, albeit slightly distressed, look. Refinishing the kitchen table was similar in technique to the wood pallet wall. I love the natural wood color tones which tie into the living room sofas.

As for the decor, I did a complete overhaul. I painted shelves white with chalk paint to match the shiplap and mantel. I also sprayed picture frames with charcoal chalk paint to contrast the white shelves and gray wall. The area rug in the living room was chosen to contrast the dark floors and compliment the sofas. The remaining decor consisted of earth tones: green plants, cream and white flowers, galvanized metal, black accent color, and natural wood. Most of these items can be purchased in our decor shop.

For the full details of each project, please see our how-to posts below:

Part Two: Hallway and Bathroom



French Country bathroom, farmhouse bathroom, gray white bathroom, AirStone accent wallThe hallway and guest bathroom extend off of the living room. In the hall, we replaced the three pantry doors with white farmhouse doors and black hardware. We did the same for the bathroom door and continued the Sherwin Williams Light French Gray in both rooms. To save money, I painted all of the wood trim white (2 coats Kilz/1 coat trim paint) instead of replacing it. Similarly, I painted the bathroom vanity mirror with white chalk paint (it was metal with ugly rust marks!) and the wood of the sink vanity. I did this with the same exact color and method as painting our fireplace tile. The only difference was I added a finishing coat of Varathane to protect it from scratches/stains. We replaced the sink top because, well, there’s not much you can do to change a clam shell! haha

The remaining renovations were adding finishing touches such as cabinet pulls, faucet, new towels, etc. Just something creative but simple like the toilet paper holder I found for our bathroom or the pendant lights we used for the hallway can “make” the room. You can find all of the items we used below. These simple changes make such a difference in completing the room. And one more thing….the AirStone accent wall!


 

Shop this Look in Our Decor Shop:

Best French Country Farmhouse Decor Online

Refinish Kitchen Table in Farmhouse Style

After renovating my kitchen cabinets and living room in a rustic french country farmhouse style, I needed to refinish my kitchen table to match. The red in the wood stain did not flow with the cooler shades and natural wood tones in the surrounding living spaces.

Refinish kitchen table to look like farmhouse table
Kitchen Table – Before
Refinish table in farmhouse style
Kitchen Table – After

Materials Used:

These are affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the product for your own project, I earn a small percentage of the sale. Using the link does not, in any way, cost you anything (no mark-up, etc). It simply helps me to pay for this website and continue providing free how-to articles. I want to stress that I ONLY include links for products I have actually used and recommend. 


Process:

  1. Sand: Using belt sander and 50 grit sandpaper, sand table down to bare wood.
    Refinish table in farmhouse style
    Sand Table

    Always work in the direction of the grain. Try to do the edges as best as possible but it can look “rough” since we are going for a farmhouse look. Then, use 120 and 220 sandpaper to smooth. (I recommend doing this outside or in a garage.) Don’t forget your dust mask!

    Refinish table in farmhouse style
    After Sanding
  2. Stain: Clean table with a damp rag to remove dust and lift wood grain. (You may choose to use Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner for a more even stain application. I did not use it for this project.) Apply stains using chip brushes and massaging into wood with rags. Again, always work in the direction of the grain. I used the driftwood stain first and simply brushed it on in a few separate lines, blending into wood with rag. It is important to begin with light stain and work your way darker as you cannot go lighter after applying dark stain (without having to sand again). After the driftwood, I applied the jacobean to most other areas in the same manner (avoiding the lines of driftwood). I left a few areas of bare wood for contrast. There is no specific method except that I tried to blend the different sections until it looked a little more natural. Let dry (approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour).

    Refinish table in farmhouse style
    Stain Wood
  3. Whitewash Wood: To lighten the look slightly and add to the farmhouse style, I applied a diluted whitewash. Mix 1 part water to 1 part white latex paint (see in materials list above). Apply on table with brush and wipe off with rag (always wipe in same direction as grain). I did this in sections, as I didn’t want the whitewash on the wood long. If it seems like the wood is absorbing too much white paint, use a damp rag to wipe off instead of a dry one. Test your whitewash first in an area that isn’t very noticeable. Adjust water/paint ratios if needed. Let table fully dry. (I let it dry overnight.)

    Refinish table in farmhouse style
    After Whitewash
  4. Finish: After table has dried completely, apply 3-4 coats of finish with a quality brush (I always use Purdy). I spent days researching which finish would provide the best protection, clear color, etc. Eventually, I decided to use the water-based Varathane I had on hand. The main reason: I did not want a yellow tint added to the wood. Be sure to gently sand between each coat with 220 grit sandpaper. Do not sand final coat.


 

Shop This Look in Our Decor Shop:

Best French Country Farmhouse Decor Online

How To Paint Fireplace Mantel and Tile Surround

IMG_9523
After Painting Mantel & Tile Surround
Before Painting

After we completed our wood pallet accent wall, we realized the fireplace did not match. We knew we wanted to paint the mantel white (chalk paint – my favorite!) but we were not sure what type of paint to use on the tile surround to withstand the heat and stick to the tile. After much research, we decided to use a Latex Interior/Exterior Bonding Primer/Sealer and Sherwin Williams Weathershield tinted with Valspar Hazy Stratus (Satin).


Materials Used:

These are affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the product for your own project, I earn a small percentage of the sale. Using the link does not, in any way, cost you anything (no mark-up, etc). It simply helps me to pay for this website and continue providing free how-to articles. I want to stress that I ONLY include links for products I have actually used and recommend. 


Process:

  1. Clean mantel with Krud Kutter and tile surround with damp rag.
  2. Fireplace Tile Surround – Brush on Valspar Professional Stain Block/Bonding Primer until all tile is fully covered. Let dry for 4 hours. Apply Sherwin Williams Weathershield paint (can be tinted in any color – we tinted ours with Valspar Hazy Stratus – a few shades darker than our walls which are Sherwin Williams Light French Gray). We applied two coats of the weathershield paint but it looked completely covered with just one.
  3. Fireplace Mantel: As with most of my wood painting projects, I used chalk paint to avoid sanding. Chalk paint is designed to cover most surfaces, eliminating the need to sand and prime. However, when painting my kitchen cabinets, I discovered the wood stain was still showing through even after 3 coats of chalk paint! Therefore, I always apply 1-2 coats of Kilz prior to the chalk paint when working with stained wood. Brush on 2 coats of Kilz (allow approximately 20-30 minutes of drying time between each coat). Apply 1-2 coats of chalk paint. After chalk paint has fully dried, paint on Rust-Oleum Varathane. (The can labels it as poleurethane. It is important to use this specific crystal clear finish so that you do not receive a yellow tint!) Do not skip the Varathane – it prevents the chalk paint from chipping.

This was quite a simple project and made a great difference in the overall appearance of our accent wall. It took us one day to complete.

Shop this Look in Our Decor Shop:

Best French Country Farmhouse Decor Online

How To Build A Wood Pallet Wall

IMG_9523
Finished Pallet Accent Wall (Ignore brown wall paint at bottom – still under construction!)

Building a wood pallet accent wall in our living room was not difficult. In fact, the hardest part was prepping the pallets with the color scheme I desired. I was looking for cooler shades – grays, white, driftwood. I still wanted the wood to appear natural though – not painted.


Materials Used:

These are affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the product for your own project, I earn a small percentage of the sale. Using the link does not, in any way, cost you anything (no mark-up, etc). It simply helps me to pay for this website and continue providing free how-to articles. I want to stress that I ONLY include links for products I have actually used and recommend. 


Process:

  1. Disassemble the pallets with a reciprocating saw or any tools you have on hand. Clean the wood by wiping down with a rag or gently sanding.
  2. Gray Weathered Look: Place one steel wool pad in a glass jar. Pour distilled white vinegar into jar until pad is fully covered. Do not cover jar. Wait between 2-24 hours before using (the longer, the darker the color). Do not use after 24 hours or the color will turn to a rust/brown stain. Using chip brush, cover your selected wood pieces with the liquid. The liquid will still appear clear going on; however, after a few minutes, you should see the wood begin to darken. It will continue to darken until dry. Different types of wood will react in different ways (depends on the tannin content in the wood).

    steel
    Gray Weathered Effect – Steel Wool & Vinegar
  3. White Sun Bleached Look: In order to bleach wood, you need to purchase a specific two-part wood bleach kit. (Zinsser Wood Bleach – see in material list above. Follow instructions on the box.) I could only find this kit on Amazon. This actually lightens the natural color of the wood. (Regular bleach will only remove stains – not lighten the wood color itself.) The kit covered about 15 boards but that was enough for that specific “effect” on my wall. I used this mainly on wood that was already light but had yellow tones. The bleach kit removed those tones leaving a beautiful white blonde color.

    bleach
    White Sun Bleached Effect – Two Part Wood Bleach
  4. Driftwood Look: For the tan driftwood effect, I simply used the driftwood stain listed in the materials above. Apply with a chip brush and immediately wipe off with a rag. To further distress, use sandpaper on select spots after stain has fully dried.

    driftwood
    Driftwood Effect – Driftwood Stain & Sanding
  5. Whitewash Wood Look: Mix 1 part water to 2 parts white latex paint (see in materials list above). Apply on wood with brush and lightly wipe off with rag (always wipe in same direction as grain). Alternative Method: Apply white paint (not mixed with water) to wood with brush. With wet rag, “sand” the paint into wood (cleaning rag whenever it becomes too saturated with paint). This look is forgiving and really depends on how pronounced you want your whitewash effect to be. Experiment with different types of wood and different ratios. If you find that it looks too painted, simply grab your sandpaper and distress it! **This effect can be used with any color paint!**

    whitewash
    Whitewash Effect – 1 Part Water to 2 Parts White Paint
  6. Combo Look: Try layering several of the methods above. For instance, stain wood and let dry. Then, apply whitewash look. Let dry and sand to distress.

    combo
    Combo Effect – Steel Wool/Vinegar & Whitewash
  7. After you have completed your wood effects, it is time to assemble your wall! (I did not put polyurethane on my wood pieces because I wanted them very rustic. You may apply this if you would prefer added protection to the wood. It also makes it easier to clean!) Easiest method to assemble: Start at top and work your way down. We used a level, miter saw (or circular saw), table saw, and 18ga brad nailer. Saws were used to stagger boards and make cuts around our fireplace mantel. You do not want the boards to line up so it’s important to alternate different lengths and colors. After the wall was up, I decided it wasn’t quite as “cool” in the color scheme as I wanted. Therefore, I added a final whitewash to the boards (after they were up – we didn’t take them down!) and then they were perfect!


Shop this Look in Our Decor Shop:

Best French Country Farmhouse Decor Online