Before and After Home Tour

Come take our before and after home tour! Since 2016 when we moved in, we have worked to take our house from builder basic to more custom and reflective of our personal design style!

Craftsman Home Exterior with Gray Stone, Ryan Homes Palermo Elevation L

It’s hard to believe, but we recently celebrated our six year anniversary of moving into our current house! In some ways it still feels like we just moved in. And in other ways it feels like we’ve been here forever!

We’ve done a lot to this house in the last six years, putting our mark on pretty much every space. And while we still have plenty of projects that we want to tackle, we are thrilled with how we’ve been able to make this cookie cutter, builder grade house a home.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a full house tour, so I figured that the six year mark was the perfect time for an update! Below I’ll share the before and after shots of each space in our house. I’ll also link to any relevant products we’ve used or tutorials we’ve done in each room.

Here we go!

Ryan Homes Palermo Home Tour

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.


Our house is a Palermo by Ryan Homes (Elevation L), so it is “cookie cutter” in the truest sense of the word. Literally hundreds (thousands?) of other people have the exact same floor plan that we do.

Though we knew that our house wasn’t going to be unique– at least at the start– we loved that we had a completely blank canvas. We had big plans to upgrade, customize, and make this house our own, and that is exactly what we have done!

We chose a craftsman style elevation for the front of our house. And other than add some chairs (similar) and planters (similar), we’ve just been enjoying the front of our house exactly the way it was built!

Ryan Homes Palermo Elevation L

(If you are building a house with Ryan Homes, you can see all of our selections in this post. You can read my review and experience with Ryan Homes here.)


Pretty much every space in the inside of our house started out as a blank white box. The entryway was no exception. Our entryway is fairly small, with the stairs to the second level right as you come in the door.

Front Door and Entry Before Photo

Along with painting the front hallway (Behr Marquee Silver City) and the door (Sherwin Williams Rainwashed), we also got rid of the “boob lights” that the builder had installed and replaced them with fixtures (similar) that better suited our style.

Front Door and Entryway After Photo

There is a small nook in the entry with just enough space for a cute cabinet (similar) to welcome anyone who enters our home.

Entry Cabinet

More Info on This Space: Tour the Entryway


The other entrance into our house is from the garage into our mudroom. When we first moved in, I put shelf/hook combo and bench that we had used in our last house in this space as a placeholder until we had time to do what we actually wanted…

Mudroom Before Photo

…which was to install some custom built-ins! A very talented friend of ours created this built-in area for us (If you are in the Pittsburgh area, we highly recommend him!). We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect “drop zone” for our coats and bags.

Organized Mudroom After

On the other side of the mudroom, I created a simple command center with items from IKEA to help us keep track of important announcements and paperwork for our boys.

Mudroom Command Center

The wall color in the mudroom is Behr Marquee Silver City, mixed at half strength. The mudroom doors are painted Sherwin Williams Rainwashed.

More Info on This Space: Tour the Mudroom

Donnie’s Home Office

Donnie and I both work from home, so each of us has an office space in the house. Donnie’s office is on the main level of the house, right off of the living room. When we first moved in, we just threw together some pieces that we’d had from our old house…

Home Office Before Photo

But eventually, we decided to use the Elfa system from The Container Store to organize his books and video equipment. He also has a motorized desk that can be either a sitting desk or a standing desk, depending on what he’s working on on any particular day.

Home Office with The Elfa System from The Container Store

On the other side of the room, he has a small seating area with a smaller Elfa unit that acts as his side table and provides a little more storage.

Home Office Seating Area

The paint color in this space is Behr Chain Reaction.

More Info on This Space: Tour Donnie’s Office

Living Room

Our living room, kitchen, and sunroom are all in one big, connected space, so they presented an extra challenge in that they really all had to flow and work together. We brought in an area rug and coffee table (similar) shortly after we moved in, but the living room was still pretty drab and bare.

Living Room Before Photo

But not for long! We used IKEA’s BESTA system to create an entertainment unit and added our own trim to give it a more custom look. We installed high board and batten (painted Behr Marquee Cameo White) and painted the upper part of the walls in my favorite gray, Behr Marquee Silver City.

Living Room in a Ryan Homes Palermo

The day this room was painted, I walked in and literally teared up because it was the moment I felt like our bare, white box of a house became an actual cozy, welcoming home. It’s amazing what a little paint can do!

Our couch, love seat, and chair are all from the IKEA EKTORP line (now called UPPLAND). We love them because the slipcovers can be removed and washed, and with two crazy tween boys running around, that is a huge help!

Living Room with Board and Batten and Craftsman Style Window Trim

Shades in Bali Abaca | Curtains

As you may have noticed in some of the previous photos, we have been slowly upgrading the trim around the windows and doorways from the thin builder-grade that came with the house to a chunkier, more substantial craftsman style. You can find the window trim tutorial here.

More Info on This Space: Tour the Living Room

Sunroom / Morning Room

The sunroom is one of my most favorite rooms in the house because it faces the view we love so much! Before we had a deck, we used our outdoor furniture as a placeholder in this space until we found what we really wanted.

Morning Room Before Photo

After trimming out the windows, bringing in furniture that is better suited to the space, and painting (Behr Marquee Silver City, mixed at half strength), this room is the light, bright, and inviting space I had envisioned!

Sunroom Morning Room in a Ryan Homes Palermo

More Info on This Space: Tour the Sunroom


One of the reasons we chose to build a house rather than purchase an existing home was because we had just done a major kitchen renovation in our townhouse, and we did not want to have to do another full gut job!

And while we didn’t totally gut this space, we did end up making a lot of changes. This is what the kitchen looked like when we moved in…

Bare Kitchen Before Photo

And this is what the kitchen looks like now:

White Kitchen in a Ryan Homes Palermo

The changes we made include:

We also did some work in the pantry. This is the first house I’ve ever lived in that had wire shelves, and it didn’t take me very long to figure out that they are not my favorite!

Kitchen Pantry Before Photo

We ripped out the wire shelves in the pantry, added some pretty wallpaper, and installed solid surface shelves with the IKEA ALGOT system (now called BOAXEL). So much better!

organized pantry with decanted dry goods and colorful bins holding snacks, baking items, and canned goods

You can get more details about our pantry in this post.

More Info on This Space: Tour the Kitchen

Dining Room

The dining room is the only room on the main level that was separated enough from the other spaces that we could go a little bolder with our paint color in here! Bye-bye dingy builder white…

Dining Room Before Photo

Hello, pretty aqua! (aka Sherwin Williams Rainwashed) I am a smidge aqua obsessed, and so I loved being able to add big color to this space to really make it pop. Lots of white and neutral touches in the rest of the room ensure that the color is not overwhelming.

Decorated Dining Room

You can get more details on our wood shutters in this post.

More Info on This Space: Tour the Dining Room

Half Bath

Our tiny half bathroom was one of the last rooms we tackled in our home. Like all of our other spaces, it was just plain dingy white…

Half Bathroom Before

Eventually, we added some high wainscoting and pretty wallpaper, swapped out the pedestal sink for a vanity, and changed some fixtures to get a completely different look.

Aqua, Gray, and White Powder Room with Brass Fixtures

More Info on This Space: Tour the Half Bath


Our house didn’t come with any type of deck or patio in the back, so it was only going to get better from here!

Back of the House Before Photo

We ended up adding a deck using AZEK decking and railings, and it has held up wonderfully!

Back of the House with Deck

This is another one of our favorite spots to sit and enjoy the view, whether we’re just relaxing in the outdoor furniture or enjoying a meal at the farmhouse-style table Donnie built.

Backyard Deck and View

Learn about how we made the plans for our deck here and the installation of the AZEK decking here.

More Info on This Space: Tour the Deck


Garages may not be a typical stop during a home tour, but I really love ours, so I couldn’t leave it out! Perhaps one of the reasons I love it so much is because it started out as one of the roughest spaces…

Messy Garage Before Photo

And now it’s tidy, organized, and beautiful! We used IKEA ALGOT (BOAXEL) shelving to really maximize our vertical storage space in the garage. For larger or awkwardly shaped items, we used this rail system + attachments to get our items off the floor and out of the way.

Organized Garage

I never really thought it was that important to have a garage organized, but it has actually made a HUGE difference for us!

It is amazing to be able to park both cars in the garage (especially during the cold Pennsylvania winters!). And we’re much more likely do work on lawn and outdoor projects because all of our items are easily accessible.

Organized Garage from Driveway

More Info on This Space: Tour the Garage


When people see our garage, they often ask, “But where are your bins of seasonal decor? And where are all of Donnie’s tools?!” We keep those items and more in our unfinished basement. Like the garage, the basement started out pretty rough:

Messy Basement Before Photo

It took a bit of work, but we managed to get it neat and organized and have a place for everything. And we even made room for a home gym!

Basement home gym with rack, weights, treadmill, bench, and punching bag
Basement Home Gym with Dumbells, Medicine Balls, a Weightlifting Rack, and a Punching Bag

More Info on This Space: Tour the Home Gym

Remember those holiday bins I mentioned? We were keeping them in this nook in the basement, but they were stacked everywhere, and it was hard to know what was where.

Messy Storage Nook Before Photo

We used these metal storage racks + clear storage totes to give all of our items a designated “home.” Now we can easily find (and get to) whatever we’re looking for!

Treadmill in an Organized Basement Home Gym

Donnie claimed this section of the basement as his workshop, but he always dreaded working in this space because it was such a wreck…

Messy Basement Workshop Before Photo

We not only tidied up his work bench area…

Tidy Basement Workshop

We also organized all of his tools so he can find exactly what he needs at a glance. Donnie wrote an entire post about all of his tool organization storage systems here.

Organized Tools in Basement Workshop

More Info on This Space: Tour the Basement

Laundry Room

The next stop on our home tour is our most recent project! The laundry room was on my to-do list for years, but I always put it off because I knew it was going to be a pretty big job, and I was intimidated! Plus, it was working just fine the way it was. It just wasn’t very pretty.

Small Laundry Room Before Photo

But we finally decided to go for it! We ripped out the flooring and replaced the tile. We added a vertical shiplap accent wall (painted Sherwin Williams Rainwashed, mixed at half strength). And we built a shelf for over the washer and dryer.

Small Laundry Room

We even organized the linen closet!

Small, Organized Linen Closet in a Laundry Room

Our laundry room is still small, but it is mighty, and now I actually grin every time I go in there to change the loads– who knew that would ever be possible?!

More Info on This Space: Tour the Laundry Room

Our laundry room is on the top level of our house, right next to the…

Shared Boys’ Bedroom

The only “before” photo I have of my boys’ room is one of a completely empty space because this is the very first room we worked on after we moved into the house!

It was really important to me that the boys feel comfortable in their new home, so I worked with them to come up with a plan that they both loved.

Shared Boys' Bedroom Before Photo

I thought it would be fun to do a nautical theme with blue and white striped comforters, white beds, and cute anchors and rope decor throughout the room, but even at ages 5 and 7 at the time, the boys vetoed that idea!

When I showed them bedding options, they kept pointing to plaid comforters, and they INSISTED that they needed to have the bear pillows shown in the photo below.

So my nautical idea went out the window, and we ended up going with an “adventuring” theme instead. And I’ve gotta say– those boys know what they’re talking about! I love how their shared space turned out!

Shared Boys' Bedroom

Roman Shades in Navy Canvas

The walls in the boys’ room are painted Behr Marquee Silver City, and the stripes are Benjamin Moore Hale Navy.

More Info on This Space: Tour the Kids’ Shared Room

Playroom / Tween Hangout Room

Across the hall from the boys’ bedroom is their playroom or “tween hangout room,” as we’re calling it since they’re getting a little older. Rather than having their own rooms, it has worked really well for us to have one room where they sleep and dress and another room with all of their toys, games, and art supplies.

The playroom had gotten a little out of control, so I knew it was time to revamp some of our systems!

Messy Playroom Before Photo

I worked with the boys to figure out what all they wanted to be able to do with the room, and we figured out a way to incorporate all the pieces that were important to them.

They have an art station and a few bins to hold the toys they still like to play with.

Organized Tween Hangout Room

On the wall behind the door, we have a big setup for them to be able to build with LEGOs, including a simple DIY LEGO table that we created.

Organized LEGO Wall in Tween Hangout Room

More Info on This Space: Tour the Playroom

Guest Bathroom

Our guest bathroom was pretty underwhelming when we moved in– white everywhere!

Guest Bathroom Before Photo

We didn’t do anything too crazy in this space, but we did paint the walls (Behr Chain Reaction). We also swapped out the big, boring mirror for two prettier ones from Hobby Lobby. I added some art and accessories as well.

Guest Bathroom After Photo

More Info on This Space: Tour the Guest Bathroom

Guest Bedroom

We have out-of-town family that comes to visit fairly often, so a guest bedroom was a must in this house! At first we just gathered up any of the old pieces that were left over from our last house and plopped them down in the room.

Bare Guest Bedroom Before Photo

But we really wanted to create a cozy, welcoming space for our guests, so this room got an overhaul! We brought in a simple headboard (similar) and white bedding that we could accessorize in a million different ways depending on what look we wanted to go for. We picked some cute round nightstands (similar) and put windowed mirrors above them. And we added some pretty fabulous curtains, along with some pretty pillows and accessories to bring in some color.

Guest Bedroom in Aqua, Pink, and White

More Info on This Space: Tour the Guest Bedroom

Abby’s Home Office

I’m not going to lie– this next space is totally what sold me on our house. It is a bonus room over our garage, and it is HUGE (21’8″ x 13’7″)!

Bare Bonus Room in a Ryan Homes Palermo

I knew right away that it would be a perfect room for my office, but it took us a little while to get it situated! Most of my office storage pieces stayed with our last house, so for the first few years that we lived here, I just made do with what I had.

Office Corner with No Storage

Since this room does not have a closet, we decided to use the IKEA PAX system to create a closet-like area that would still maintain the flow of the space while storing a bunch of stuff.

IKEA PAX Storage Unit in Home Office

I loved this little nook space, but it was not being used to its fullest capacity at first!

Office Nook Before Photo

I painted the walls of the nook Sherwin Williams Rainwashed and added a desk (similar) and cozy chair (similar), and it quickly became a favorite little spot.

Home Office Nook

The far end of the room housed even more stuff that needed to be stored (and some that I ended up donating).

Home Office Before Photo

I brought in a small table, which I whitewashed myself, an etagere to hold my extra pillows and office accessories, and another cozy chair in the corner.

Organized Home Office

Before we started working on this room, the back wall held a lot of my wall decor that I hadn’t found a spot for yet, along with some of my camera equipment and printer supplies.

Home Office with No Storage

I ended up stenciling the back wall to make it pop. Then we used the IKEA BESTA system to create a storage unit to hold a lot of my binders and crafting tools.

IKEA BESTA Storage Unit in a Home Office

It has been delightful to have so much space to create and dream!

More Info on This Space: Tour My Home Office

Primary Bedroom

We’ve finally made it to our room! (If you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed– this post has gotten way longer than I had planned! 😉 ) We purchased a new king sized bed (similar) when we first moved into this house, but other than that, the room stayed pretty bare for a while.

Main Bedroom Before Photo

Eventually we painted the walls Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, brought in nightstands with some added storage, and found a tufted bench for the end of the bed. We layered an area rug (similar) on top of the carpet as well to make the space extra cozy!

Main Bedroom in Aqua, White, and Gray

More Info on This Space: Tour the Primary Bedroom

Primary Closet

Those infamous wire shelves were in our closet when we moved in, and I think they lasted just about a month before we ripped them out!

Main Closet Before Photo

We replaced them with a custom closet system from EasyClosets, and all these years later, we are still loving it! From shoes to shirts, pants, dresses, and accessories, everything has a spot!

Main Closet Organized with Custom Closet System

This is what Donnie’s side of the closet looked like when we moved in:

Main Closet Before Photo with Wire Shelving

And here’s what it looks like now:

Main Closet With Built-In Closet System

More Info on This Space: Tour the Primary Closet

Primary Bathroom

And last but not least, our bathroom! Lots and lots and lots of white…

Main Bathroom Before Photo

We did a quick update with Sherwin Williams Rainwashed paint, new mirrors from Hobby Lobby, and some art and accessories. Eventually I’d like to switch out the tile in both of our full bathrooms, but for now, the plain tile the builder put in is working just fine!

Main Bathroom After Photo

More Info on This Space: Tour the Primary Bathroom

Whew! So that’s the grand tour! So many times I feel like our progress has moved so, so slowly, but when I look back on it all at once, I realize that we really have accomplished quite a bit since we moved in!

Home Tour Sources

Since we’ve been in our house for several years now, many of the items we originally purchased are no longer sold. I’ve tried to link as many exact or similar items as I could find below. Just click on the image for more info!

If you’d like to save this post to refer to later, be sure to pin this image so you can find it easily:

Cozy and Serene Before and After Home Tour of a Ryan Homes Palermo

Thank you so much for following along! Have a wonderful day!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.


  1. I have never known anyone who wallpapered a pantry! 🙂

    Oh, and “boob lights.” I know exactly what you’re talking about.

    Everything looks so lovely. Congratulations!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Haha!Thanks so much, Sarah. Have an awesome week! <3

      ~Abby =)

      1. I just came across your blog and I’m in love with your style. I was looking for grey paint colours for my bedroom. Thinking silver I dry is now the winner. Also for my bathroom rain washed. Maybe a silly question but what does at half strength mean? Lol I’m new to this decorating thing. Thanks so much!!

        Colleen from Canada

        1. Abby Lawson says:

          Hi, Colleen! Great question! Half strength just means that they put in 50% of the formula for the paint color rather than 100%, so the result is a more muted version of the color. If you go to the paint counter and ask them to mix it at half strength, they will know what you mean. My friend Karianne has a post explaining it more thoroughly here: https://thistlewoodfarms.com/best-painting-tip-ever/ . I hope this helps! Have a great day!

  2. Oh my goodness Abby, I am absolutely in love with your house. You and your husband have done a lot of work to make it beautiful. Let me tell you I’m super jealous! It is gorgeous. Thank you for a great tour.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      You’re too sweet. Thanks so much, Danna! It’s been fun to see it all come together!

      Hope you’re having a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  3. What an amazing transformation! I love seeing the changes you’ve made over the years. You’re an inspiration! Since purchasing my cozy condo 4-years ago I’ve made both small and big changes too! First was paint, then I’d choose a project to work on every few months. It’s all about personalizing the space! This past year I’ve tackled larger projects – like the media wall in my living room (I have a huge book and DVD collection)- but I still have more projects in mind for the future, some which have been inspired by you and your blog. 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Aw, thanks so much! So glad it has been helpful for you. Hope you’re having a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  4. Aww Abby! It’s all so beautiful! I use the same color scheme in my home, so yours is a great inspiration for me❤️

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Aw thanks so much Tori! Hope you’re having a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  5. What an absolutely beautiful home you’ve created! I’ve been following for a few years now and am so inspired. We bought our “forever home” last year and I can’t tell you how many times I look to you for ideas. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      You are too sweet! Thank you so much, Lisa. SO glad it has been helpful for you! Have an awesome week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  6. Oh my gosh! I LOVE your home! I always adore the grey and aqua is the perfect complement. I also love the way you’ve used the same 3 or 4 colors throughout your house. I’ve always thought every room needed its own color, and since I’m terrible at choosing a color never do anything. I love the way it came together and would love to use this color scheme in my home, but I don’t know how that would look. We have a lot of wood, (cabinets, floor, tongue and groove on some walls, ceiling) and it has a very cabin in the woods feel, but I don’t want the cabin in the woods look. Maybe I’ll give it a shot! Thanks for sharing your home with us!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet words, Lisa! Your home sounds beautiful! I totally think these colors could work. 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week!

  7. Hi Abby!

    In your mud room, are they drawers under the bench? Your house is absolutely LOVELY!!! Thanks for sharing your transformations!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Yes– they are drawers under the bench. Thank you so much for your sweet words, Tammy!

  8. My husband came across your post when looking for dimensions of our floor plan. We have the same house!! We have been over seas for several years and are moving back in next week. We have some changes to make due to renters but you ah e given me some great ideas! Love the aqua everywhere! My main living area and kitchen are also painted a pale grey. Anyway thanks for an awesome tour and all the inspiration!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Oh what an exciting time for you guys! That’s so fun! Thank you so much for your sweet words, and enjoy getting reacquainted with your home! 🙂

  9. I LOVE the way you decorated your home! It is beautiful! My favorite room is probably your office 🙂

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Aw thank you so much, Annie! It is my favorite too! 🙂

      Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Abby your place looks amazing. You guys have really put in alot of work to make it a beautiful and comfy place to stay. It really is very light on the eye.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thanks so much, Sumaya! You’re so sweet! Hope you’re having a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

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