My Sister’s Home Makeover

My Sister's Home Makeover

Last fall, my sister Lucy came to visit us in Brooklyn. She was grieving the loss of her husband, Paul, and she felt very lonely. “I want to burst into tears whenever I think about returning to an empty house,” she told me. It still felt like the house she had shared with Paul, but she wanted it to feel like a home of her own, where she could have a fresh start with her daughter. So, we brainstormed: What could we do to cheer up her place? I reached out to my super talented interior-designer friend Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook and Juniper Studio, and she was kind enough to agree to help. What she did was more than we had ever hoped for. Here are the before-and-after photos…


Lucy's Home Before

Lucy's Home Before


Lucy's Apartment Makeover

Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on brightening up a room: Lucy’s windows get indirect sunlight, which is beautiful and soft, but doesn’t give a lot of fresh brightness. So we instantly knew the walls needed to go white. I love to use pure white paint, but since Lucy’s apartment is shadowy from all those lovely trees outside her windows, we went with Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace, which has a nice warmth from the tiniest bit of yellow pigment. It’s like instant sunshine!

Jenny on choosing family-friendly furniture: Before, there was a giant black sectional. I love black, but it’s hard to have a dark piece in a room that’s a little dark itself. So we lightened up the furniture. I LOVE using leather furniture in homes with kids or pets. It holds up well against everyday wear and tear, and then it becomes practically new again with a good leather conditioner. (This one is my favorite.) We selected the Sven sofa from Bryght. The buttery camel leather is fabulous, especially for the price point of the sofa! Since Lucy wanted to keep the carpeting, we layered rugs on top to make it feel fresh.

LUCY’S TAKE: When Jenny asked what I hoped the house would feel like, I said bright and colorful and nature-y. And that’s exactly what she did. She even decorated the bookcase with a brass grasshopper and a geode. There’s so much love and care in everything.

Lucy's Apartment Makeover

Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on building the custom bookshelf: Lucy loves books, so we knew we wanted to build a giant bookshelf. The shelves are DIY — we bought plywood from the hardware store and painted it white. The molded brackets are from Amazon. We needed to work around the big mirror, which was permanently installed by the builder and dry-walled into the wall. That’s great for earthquakes, but not for décor! I was happy to keep it, though, because mirrors reflect light, so it’s almost like adding another window.

Jenny’s tips for styling bookshelves: I’m a big believer that bookshelves are for books. I love stuff on shelves, too, but if you start with books, you’re taking care of the important thing, and then you can style around them. And I like to keep similar books together. You can either organize by subject or loosely group them by color, so it doesn’t feel like too much of a hodgepodge. If you place the books in groups, your eye has a place to land, and then move on. Once the books are in, you can stack some horizontally, so they act like bookends. Finally, layer some other pieces in, but be careful not to overstuff shelves. You want it to feel curated and less like storage.

LUCY’S TAKE: Mom and I literally did KonMari before Jenny came. I got rid of a lot of books because Paul never got rid of a book in his life, literally, really truly. But I kept the books that were especially important to him: all his favorite novels, and the tattered neurosurgery book he carried around during his residency, and books about religion that he read when he was dying. Before, we each had our own bookshelf, but Jenny mixed all the books together — now they feel way lighter. They feel like Paul is in the air. I love knowing they’re in there, that’s our little secret. He’s in the mix.

Lucy's Apartment Makeover

Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on choosing art: It’s important not to overcrowd your walls. It’s always better to hang fewer pieces, and make them bigger, so you can enjoy what’s happening. We had planned on hanging lots of art over the sofa, but in the end it felt right to hang just three pieces. They play nicely together. If a gallery wall is the only thing you have in a room, it can be a great focal point. But here, the bookshelf is providing a lot of interest, so we kept the art softer.

Paint color: Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore in eggshell for walls and semigloss for trim. Leather sofa: Bryght. Buffalo check throw: Schoolhouse Electric. Pillows: Juniper Studio. Striped lamp: Schoolhouse Electric. Aqua sofa: Bryght. Brass and marble lamp: Anthropologie. White scallop side table: Juniper Studio. Arthur’s seat: Laura Bell, from 20×200. Love print: Max Wanger. We Are So Good Together Print: Dylan Fareed, from 20×200. Custom frames: Simply Framed. Coffee table: West Elm. Wallpaper: Hygge & West. Area Rug: West Elm. Armchair: Modernica. Black planter: Modernica. Back porch rug: West Elm. Bookshelf brackets: Welland. Letter K: Anthropologie. Planetarium terrarium: Anthropologie. Pottery: Juniper Studio. Abstract art: Brenna Giessen. Striped baskets: The Land of Nod. Bookshelf paint: Simply White by Benjamin Moore.


Lucy's Home Makeover


Lucy's Home Makeover

Lucy's Home Makeover

Lucy's Apartment Makeover

Jenny on going for a chandelier: Changing overhead lighting always makes a big statement. In the dining room, we bought an IKEA chandelier and spray painted it white. It was very inexpensive but made a huge difference.

Jenny on creating multiple light sources: In design school, they teach you to have eight sources of lighting for a single room! That’s probably too much for an apartment-size house, but having multiple sources creates a nice ambiance. I say, have tons of table lamps. Then choose the right bulbs. You can get soft white or natural sunlight bulbs, or even those light pink bulbs for a room where you want a very pretty, soft glow.

Jenny on the magic of oversized prints: If you’re struggling with choosing art, or how to fill your walls, the best thing you can do is buy one hugely oversized print. It feels dramatic and expensive, like a piece of art. I’d choose one giant piece over a gallery wall any day. Just remember that it’s important to pick something with colors that work for the room. It’s like committing to wallpaper.

Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on creating an accent wall: We wanted to incorporate some pattern on the floating wall between Lucy’s kitchen and living room. The (fully removable and reusable!) wallpaper tiles from Hygge & West were the perfect solution. Lucy loves imagery with a nature theme, and I liked that the pattern was smaller and tone-on-tone. There is already a lot going on with the bookshelf wall, and seeing a crazy color and pattern reflected in the big mirror would have taken things too far.

Lucy's Apartment Makeover

Jenny on making room transitions feel seamless: All the art — in the entrance, the living room and the dining room — is hanging at around the same height. That helps unify the rooms and makes them feel more considered.

Jenny on putting rugs in every room: Rugs help define a space in an open floor plan. Here, the dining room feels like a very separate space. Rugs also make a room feel much more designed. I always think rugs should be as big as possible, though — dinky rugs are such a bummer.

Wall color: Chantilly Lace in eggshell by Benjamin Moore. Pink wall print: Madelon Verdoorn, from Eventide. Grass print by Brooke Schwab, from Eventide. Custom frames: Simply Framed. Gem stand: Juniper Studio. Table, chairs and secretary: vintage, sourced by Juniper Studio. Grid rug: Dash & Albert. Blush tray: Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. Custom floating TV credenza: Juniper Studio. Paint color on credenza: Classic Gray by Benjamin Moore. Paint color on vintage table top: Simply White by Benjamin Moore.


Lucy's Home Before


Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on tackling small spaces: The entryway was smaller than we had anticipated, so we made the portraits smaller, too. We also kept the color in the room limited to the accessories. We had thought about doing a more colorful rug and color portraits in bigger frames, but when we saw the ceiling was lower in the entry, we knew we wanted to keep all the permanent decor light and airy. That’s another design tip: In a smaller space, it’s good to go neutral, and then carefully, carefully add in pops of color, so it won’t feel too busy.

LUCY’S TAKE: I really like the hooks. Cady’s tiny coats look ridiculously cute hanging up there. The photos are of Cady’s aunts and uncles and godparents. It reminds me that I’m part of a really tight, fun group of siblings in my generation. You have a long day, and you walk into your house, and you’re like, THIS is who I am.

Paint color: Chantilly Lace in eggshell by Benjamin Moore. Door paint: Champion Cobalt in semi-gloss by Benjamin Moore. Custom wall shelf by Juniper Studio, paint color is Simply White in the advance line by Benjamin Moore. Rugs: IKEA (three sewn together!). Camel cashmere throw: Parachute Home. Wall hook: Schoolhouse Electric Supply & Co. Orange bag: Schoolhouse Electric Supply & Co.


Lucy's Bedroom Before

Lucy's Bedroom Before


Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on choosing paint colors: In the bedroom, we decided to go with a blush color, because it felt important for her bedroom to feel different from before. It’s a feminine moment without feeling overly girly. It’s also a warm pink, not a Pepto Bismol pink.

Jenny on testing colors first: We actually chose several paint colors, but didn’t make the final decision until we were on-site. I cannot stress how important it is to try swatches on the wall. It’s a great idea to look at the samples at different times of the day; and it might seem like overkill, but it is also helpful to paint samples on all four walls of a room.

Lucy's Home Makeover

Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on making a bedroom feel serene: I like to go soft and light on bedding, almost always. Here, we chose a white duvet. It’s like having white towels — there’s something nice about knowing something you’re putting directly against your body is very clean. When something occupies such a big place in a small space, it should be really light in color, and then you can layer more color and texture over it.

LUCY’S TAKE: I sleep so much better now. We used to have foam pillows, but these are big down pillows, like you’d have in a hotel. Now I’m sleeping in a little oasis in my house, and it feels comforting.

Lucy's Home Makeover

Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on hanging curtains: I always love having a lot of textiles in a bedroom. In this case, Lucy didn’t really need curtains, because she has shutters in the bedroom. But as soon as we hung the curtains, it felt really soft and cozy. It helped everything come together in such a happy, happy way.

LUCY’S TAKE: When I first saw the bedroom, I said, “The curtains are so pretty, where are they from?” Jenny said, “They’re from IKEA, but I stamped them with leaves.” I burst into tears. I was like, you stamped them? All these things are like gifts. She put her hands on my house, I think of her every morning.

Wall color: Love and Happiness in eggshell by Benjamin Moore. Bed: BluDot in Edwards in Poppy color. Floral pillow: Etsy. Sail print: Kati Dimoff, from Eventide. Sconces: West Elm. White shams: Parachute Home. Duvet and shams: Parachute Home. Blue chair: vintage Milo Baughman via Modern on Melrose. Jewelry stand: Anthropologie. Gosling Lake print: Kurt Tong, from 20×200. Brass rod: West Elm. Custom frames: Simply Framed. Dish: Schoolhouse Electric Supply & Co.


Lucy's Home Makeover

Lucy's Apartment Makeover

Lucy's Apartment Makeover

Lucy's Home Makeover

Jenny on the finished product: We wanted it to feel sophisticated but happy. Lucy’s a professional woman, so we wanted it to be cool and feminine, but definitely a grown-up’s house. “Fresh” was the word we kept using, and I think the finished look reflects that.

Jenny on watching Lucy’s reaction: It was the most emotional week for all of us. It was amazing and heavy and wonderful and hard — oh my gosh, it was hard in a lot of ways. But we were thrilled with how it came together. Just as we finished, we were so tired, and Lucy texted us that she was there (she was returning from a week away). We had talked on the phone before, but we hadn’t met. She walked in, and it was seriously the sweetest thing. She was so genuinely happy and excited. You could tell she wasn’t just trying to be nice. She just kept saying, “This is so good, this is so good.” She said what we had all been feeling all week, that this is what Paul would have wanted. It was one of the most rewarding moments I’ve ever had.

LUCY’S TAKE: I walked in and could see all my important stuff around, but it was so colorful and beautiful. They had everything set up, even the TV — Jenny said they wanted it move-in ready. Before, I’d be sitting at home watching TV and it felt so lonely. But now it’s really easy for me to sit on the couch and feel like I can drink a glass of wine and watch a show! I’m excited to come home now, I’m excited to have people over, I’m not itching to get out like I was before. I feel like a fresh, cool lady in my house. So much love and care went into it. The kindness of strangers is in my house.

Lucy's Apartment Makeover

Thank you so, so much, Jenny!

P.S. More house tours, and where to find affordable art.

(Photos by Julia Robbs for Cup of Jo. Styling by Kendra Smoot. Home design by the incredible Jenny Komenda of Juniper Studio. Thank you so much to everyone, including the brands featured here, many of which generously provided products or furnishings.)

  1. Maggie says...

    This is absolutely beautiful. I also wanted to mention that I recently saw “When Breath Becomes Air” at the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris. It was sitting front and center among the greatest writers and famous novels of our time. It was truly a gift that Paul gave to the world by sharing his words with us.

  2. Julie says...

    This is my first comment on your blog although I’ve been a reader for years. This is just the sweetest thing I have ever read. So much love.

  3. Stephanie says...

    This post makes me so happy. I’ve seen and read a lot of Lucy interviews lately, and she is so amazing. As a struggling medical student, I really admire her. It made me laugh (and fret) recognizing the medical review books on the bookshelf.

    Anyway, Lucy, if you see this comment, I just wanted to let you know that you and Paul have inspired me throughout my journey.

    And Joanna, I’ve been an avid reader for years, since nearly the beginning, and I love reading posts about you and your sister. I have a sister myself, and the relationship of two sisters is often intense and like nothing else. I can always tell how much you love each other. It’s a beautiful gift.

  4. Toni says...

    Others have said this, but I need to concur- a house tour has never made me cry before! Loved this so so much. The house looks WONDERFUL. So happy for Lucy.

  5. This is so sweet. I’m wishing all the best for Lucy and her daughter.

  6. No words. Just all kinds of ooey, gooey, happy, wistful feelings.

  7. Audrey says...

    So touching. Stunning makeover.

  8. meg says...

    i cannot even believe i’m trying really, really, really hard not to cry in front of my co-workers right now BECAUSE OF A HOME TOUR. high fives, hugs, kudos, and all good things to everyone involved in this. what a beautiful, beautiful gift you’ve given each other. thank you so much for sharing with us!

  9. This is so wonderful – what an incredible post, both emotional and physical. I’m so happy for your sister!

  10. Weeping. I feel like I know you guys from following your blog, and it brings me so much joy to see the efforts everyone has gone to to make Lucy’s home feel new after her loss. Your family is really remarkable and kind. Sending love from California.

  11. Just so precious and poignant to read, especially feeling like we, as readers, “know” Lucy in a way after all that’s happened. Her home is beautiful and perfect.

  12. Betsy says...

    Gosh, that made me cry at work. Her home is so wonderful, what an amazing transformation. I’m glad she feels so comfortable in her new home.

  13. Glenn says...

    Lovely:) Would you mind sharing where the tassel blanket on the end of the bed is from?

    Thank you!

  14. Cheryl Fortunato says...

    LOVE. All of it. What a gift. Your sister’s reaction is priceless. Read Paul’s book recently and cried. Here’s to a new normal for her and Cady.

  15. Add me to the list of crying women at their desks right now. #deskneighborconcerned #wonderingifexcelismakingmecry #yesbutno

    • Laura says...

      I love this comment.

  16. Cristina says...

    This is so incredibly wonderful. Life is so hard and cruel sometimes but then the magic of love surrounds you. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. We will all dream sweet hopes for Lucy and her baby girl. May your lives always be blessed.

  17. caroline says...

    I don’t know if I’ve ever commented here. That was one of the sweetest design posts I’ve ever read. I can’t believe a before and after could have that kind of impact on me. What a huge and thoughtful thing to do for your grieving sister, she is very lucky to have you – and Jenny as well.

  18. I am basically going to copy this entire design for my new flat (only half kidding). I mean, wow. How gorgeous, and what a beautiful, heartwarming story. Thank you so much for sharing! And for the links to all the products as well — will definitely be using those!

  19. Really so moving! What an amazing group of women represented here. Lots of love to all of you, and thank you for blending kindness with such beauty!

  20. Lily says...

    Incredible! What a wonderful gift. the dining room in particular (and all the styling) is ?. Like giving your sister a warm hug every day!

  21. this is so so so so so so good. my eyes are filled with tears. just beautiful.

  22. Angela says...

    ❤️❤️❤️ What a happy post! Yay, Lucy!

  23. Lila says...

    Tearing up in the office reading this. There is so much goodness in this world. Thank you for sharing this.

  24. Erin says...

    This is so amazing. Cheers to Jenny and Lucy. What a beautiful act. Lucy is blessed to have you Joanna. Xo

  25. joy says...

    what a lovely gift for lucy! i’ve thought about her and her daughter many times over the last few months. all the best to them. thank you for sharing <3

  26. One of the best posts ever. Your sister is a beacon of strength and inspiration, and Jenny is the freshest magician. xx

  27. adriane says...

    This is just wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  28. What a wonderful blessing for her! Her face; I’m just so happy that such kindness was shown to her. My heart goes out to her. After devouring their book, I appreciate you sharing this special moment with us. I wish I could give her a hug!

  29. Lisa says...

    Oof. That’ll get you right in the feels.

    What a beautiful gift. And it could not have gone to a more deserving pair of ladies; Cady and Lucy now have a sanctuary. I loved when ‘Breath Becomes Air’, so this is like seeing two people I adore getting a present – nothing beats it.

  30. Lisa says...

    THIS IS AMAZING!!! so moving and touching!! Her house looks beautiful! Awesome post and awesome work ladies!!

  31. jen b says...

    Lovely! What a beautiful, well deserved space!

  32. Too good. This really made my day. I read the first 90 pages of Paul’s book in one sitting last week. Having his words in my mind makes this post extra poignant. So much love to Lucy in her new beginnings!

  33. never thought a home tour would make me cry, but i’m fighting the tears. this is so beautiful, and a wonderful gift for your sister.

  34. Anna D says...

    This made me tear up as well – especially because I just finished reading, “When Breath Becomes Air ” which is easily the most beautifully written book I’ve read in a long time. It makes my heart so happy to see Lucy with a space that is going to allow her to continue on building a life for her and Cady. What a beautiful place, Jenny K! Sending lots of love to all of you!

  35. fabiana says...

    Cutting all these onions, oof!! <3

  36. That is beautiful! So very happy for her. I so admire what she’s done to for her husband and glad that the designer was able to match her beauty to her space. Lovely lovely home!

    PS…I wrote a post on my blog about meeting her at her book signing at Kepler’s I’d love to know what you think.

  37. Kate says...

    What a beautiful home! I recently read Paul’s book and couldn’t it down. The whole way through I was thinking of his family and hoping they would be ok. Lucy’s words at the end were so touching and it’s lovely to see this next part of her journey. Thank you for sharing and know you are in the thoughts of so many strangers.

  38. I’ve long admired Jenny’s work and it’s so touching to see all the love she put into this project. Just wonderful.

  39. Aidel.K says...

    I was holding up really well until I got to “Everything is Going to be OK.” I’ve been doggedly visiting Jenny’s blog because I love her, and there’s been nothing happening there until yesterday. Now, I see what she was doing!!!! I get it. This is just gorgeous like all of her brilliant work. And your mom going all KonMari with Lucy….she must be amazing. All three of you are. Jenny, too. Oh, one more thing, Lucy and Toby really look alike. I think it’s her bangs.

  40. Barbara says...

    Tearing up over the beauty and kindness in this post…

  41. Rosie says...

    100% teared. Paul’s book, your blog, Lucy’s afterward, these photos – it’s all so human and profoundly touching.

  42. I never post but this brought me to tears. What a beautiful thing you made happen for your sister.

  43. Barbara says...

    Tearing up over the beautiful people, sentiments, and make-over…

  44. Sally says...

    I’ve never commented on a blog before but this piece compelled me to leave a comment. What a beautiful thing you did for your sister. I haven’t read your brother-in-law’s book, it hits a little too close to home for me emotionally with a husband finishing up his fellowship and two young children, but I plan to one day. Your sister embodies strength and resilience – bravo.

  45. Whitney says...

    This (!) is why I love your blog. After reading Paul’s book and now this, it’s so beautiful and touching. Your sister is so lucky to have you! xo

  46. sarah laskow says...

    like everyone else this made me cry! what an amazing thoughtful thing to do for your sister. the look on her face is priceless. we are all cheering her on during this difficult time. Thank you for sharing such a happy moment with us!

  47. Kim says...

    Wow! I am floored by the transformation. And what a sweet, thoughtful and kind gesture for your sister. :)

  48. N. Rogers says...

    What an amazing transformation! It brought tears to my eyes….

  49. Elizabeth says...

    What a beautiful way to embrace just one of many next steps after a heavy, heartbreaking loss. Cannot stop tearing up. Cheers to all of you!

  50. J Hope says...

    I’m crying as well. Absolutely beautiful transformation of a space. What a wonderful project.

  51. jill c says...

    this put tears in my eyes…this is the sweetest and most beautiful space and the love that went into it all is just amazing….thank you for sharing!

  52. Melanie says...


    I am crying over this post. So beautiful. The transformation of the home and for your sister emotionally. Wow. Just, wow. I am so happy that your sister can find peace in her home again and it is wonderful to read that she is happy to come home and enjoy her surroundings. It must feel like a breathe of fresh air for her. And what a wonderful and gracious gift Jenny gave her. I am sure Paul is so happy to see his sweet bride smile and feel whole again.

    Beautiful post. Thank you to your sister for sharing this moment with your readers!!!

    Cheers and XO,

  53. K says...

    Everything is so gorgeous! I adore that llama on the bookshelf! Where can I find my own?!

  54. Emily says...

    Wow, I’m literally blubbering over here. I NEVER comment, but just have to say how beautiful this is – the loving care that Jenny and her team put into the home, Lucy’s reaction, and how it has brought her some comfort. I totally lost it when she mentioned how touched she was that Jenny stamped the little leaves on the curtains – such a tender moment.

  55. Kimberly says...

    Okay, full on crying over here. What a beautiful and thoughtful redesign. These things really do matter so much!

  56. Karla says...

    I’ve read the book, I read Jenny’s blog, and now to see them together, in this space, after everything…it gets me in the gut. What a wonderful gift. Kudos to you!

  57. Mae says...

    Well, now I’m crying. This is beautiful–beautiful home, beautiful souls. Lucy really deserves this. Oh my heart.

  58. “All these things are like gifts. She put her hands on my house… So much love and care went into it. The kindness of strangers is in my house.”


    Lovely post.

  59. This is pretty much the sweetest and most touching thing ever.

  60. Danielle says...

    Just like everyone else, this brought tears to my eyes!!!

  61. Sarah says...

    This is moving. Your sister’s reaction photos–I can’t look at them without welling up. Thank you for making the day better. It is moving to think of her being able to be at peace in her home now.

  62. “All these things are like gifts. She put her hands on my house… So much love and care went into it. The kindness of strangers is in my house.”


    Lovely post.

  63. Michelle says...

    This warms my heart.

  64. Summer says...

    This made me well up. :’) I’m so happy Jenny (and Jo) did this for Lucy. All three of you seem like the best. Thanks for a feel good moment, and all the best to future moments to be had by Lucy and Cady in that lovely home.

  65. kathy says...

    I learned about Jenny’s blog through yours and I’ve always loved her work and her personality. But, I feel like she really out-did herself. This is so beautiful and there is so much heart in it. I’m so happy for your sister!

  66. What a beautiful gift. After the tragedy your sister has faced over the last few years, she deserves a fresh happy space in which to move forward.

    Lucy, in case you’re reading these comments, I wanted to say thank you for your role in the writing and promotion of When Breath Becomes Air. Last month, my father was diagnosed with stage IV non-small-cell EGFR-positive lung cancer, just like Paul. The book not only helped me understand and digest his medical situation, but also it gave me such an immense sense of perspective and gratitude. With this book and other survivors working to raise lung cancer awareness and new scientific discoveries being made every day, I am filled with hope and comfort. The timeliness, insightfulness, and power of Paul’s writing will stay with me forever.

  67. Melissa says...

    This is the most loving before and after I’ve ever seen. I’m in tears and absolutely delighted for Lucy.

  68. Absolutely love this. So heartwarming and such a nice thing to do! :)

  69. Courtney says...

    I am crying in my coffee. This is such a spectacular gesture and makeover. It’s also such a beautiful reflection of the power of women. Thank you for sharing! xoxo

  70. What a beautiful gift. It’s a lovely makeover that above all brightens. Wonderful in all respects.
    Good luck to Lucy.

  71. Tania says...

    This just made me cry (in a good way!). Beautiful, all of it.

  72. This is stunning! Her home is bright and cheery, and, like most readers, Lucy’s reaction made me teary. So happy she’s happy. What a gift.

    Also, I loved Paul’s book and am honored you shared their story with us on your site. <3

  73. Candice says...

    I am reading this at my desk at work and bawling my eyes out! Lucy’s apartment is simply beautiful! You are such a sweet sister to do this for Lucy!

  74. I am seriously crying at work right now. Beautiful! BEAUTIFUL!

  75. Quinn says...

    This is SO touching! A beautiful new space for such a special family. What a gift for them!

  76. joanna says...

    This brought me to tears. I am so, so happy for Lucy and Cady. I just finished Paul’s (and Lucy’s) book. I wish I could reach out and hug your whole family. What a blessing for her to have a fresh space as she continues to heal and grow.

  77. This is the most beautiful home!!! I am so so happy for Lucy! She so deserves this. What an incredible blessing.
    I started crying at the stamped curtain part and kept the tears going through to the end (“you stamped these?!” UGH so sweet!!)
    Thank you so much for sharing this!

  78. Well, I am crying. In my car. The remodel was stunning and fresh and beautiful. Beyond that, the thoughtfulness of everyone involved was so touching. I cannot imagine what your sister is going through, but the weight lifted seems almost tangible. The love and support from you feels so very strong & the interior designer did such an amazing job of channeling positive vibes. This has been one of my favorite posts in a long time.

  79. Reading this made me cry. What an incredible gift! And how beautiful! I want to know more about rugs-over-carpet from Jenny: I’ve always had trouble with them buckling and these look perfect. Any tips? Thanks for sharing this, Joanna and Lucy!

  80. Katie says...

    I’m a hormonal pregnant lady, but Lucy’s face made me cry. You can tell how happy she is & how wonderful for her. I read Paul’s beautiful book & have thought of Lucy & her daughter often. I’m sure she’s still struggling but how lovely to see good things happening for her.

  81. Danielle says...

    What a beautiful home (already a huge fan of Jenny) and what an amazing gift for your sister!

  82. Such an incredibly sweet and emotional post! The transformation is absolutely incredible, and your sister and Jenny’s reaction left me in tears.

    So well deserved and wishing Lucy and your niece the very best in all of their endeavors.

  83. This is probably the most thoughtful gesture I’ve ever seen done for a person. And what a great, unique idea.

    I wish I had a sister!! lol. In the midst of all this, you’re both so lucky to have each other. ♥

  84. your sister’s face mean a lot, thank you so much for sharing this, the house looks beautiful

  85. andrea says...

    this is just the best thing i have seen all week. i am so moved. jenny, you are magic!

  86. Emily R says...

    This is just beautiful in so many ways. Your sister has a beautiful fresh space for her beautiful self, a new start. What an amazing job Jenny did, and how wonderful of you to help orchestrate such a project in support of her.

  87. Zena says...

    How LOVELY!!! Quick question, where are the new bedroom nightstands/dressers from?

  88. Catherine says...

    This is just beautiful. A lovely home for a lovely person! This really speaks to the importance of good design making lives better. After all your sister has been through it is so evident the impact this had on her. Beautiful!

  89. Klara says...

    Well done Jenny! Lucy, you deserve it so much!

  90. Bridget says...

    Thank you for this update on Lucy, and what a beautiful gift to her and her daughter. I read Paul’s book, and Lucy’s beautiful epilogue, in January. I suspect it will stay with me for a long time. What an incredibly brave woman. Wishing blessings to your family.

  91. This is beautiful! What a lovely gift for your sister. It brought joy to my day as well (and a few tears).

  92. Amanda says...

    I am not a blog crier. Sometimes I’m touched or moved in some way, but generally, blog posts do not have the emotional impact of a real-life event or a longer medium like a book.

    But this post brought tears to my eyes. It’s the kindness of strangers. And families pulling together. And friends jumping in. I recently read When Breath Becomes Air (and THAT made me sob) on a vacation during which my partner and I got engaged. I felt so loved and excited and committed, but also felt that we are so small and fragile. And that that is okay, that it just IS. Like Lucy, I live and work in the Bay Area, and feel like all this life and love and heartbreak is happening literally all around me. Thank you and thank you to Lucy for sharing so much of the hard stuff in life as well as the good, and the beautiful moments that overlap both hard and good.

  93. Sabrina says...

    I was crying through the whole thing, because your sister really deserves this new start. I just finished reading Paul’s book, so this is a really heartfelt and lovely space with memories of him floating about.
    P.S. I’ve been following Jenny for years and I just realized now that from her side profile in the picture she looks a lot like the actress Erika Christensen. :)

  94. jody says...

    The moment I realized that THIS was the secret project Jenny was working on (I’ve been wondering… :), I GOT GOOSEBUMPS. I am absolutely thrilled and touched and delighted that your sister was given the gift of ‘home’. What an incredible, beautiful, wonderful gift. Here I am in North Vancouver, BC tearing up at the love shown and the love received by such amazing women. I will never know wither of them, but isn’t it amazing to share this community and Sisterhood? Thank you for this today.

  95. I can’t emphasize enough how beautiful Lucy’s home looks now, and what an incredible change it is from the original. I’m in awe! Amazing work Jo, Jenny + team!

  96. Sarah M says...

    This is pure goodness. It’s lifted my heart today. (I had seen on instagram that Jenny was in the bay for something, and this could not have been a better reason.) Also, Lucy and I have nearly the same Bay Area apartment (I swear, they were all built pretty much the same year) and I am overhauling mine, so this just gave me a MILLION ideas. Thanks for sharing such a sweet, touching act of kindness. Lucy brings such a brightness to this space.

  97. Kelly says...

    So beautiful!! I’m happy for your sister…what a wonderful gesture.

  98. Jessica says...

    This isn’t just a beautiful home, it’s a beautiful story. What incredibly lovely, special people both Jenny and Lucy are. I started to tear up when I read Lucy’s comments about the curtains, but finally gave in to the tears at her final comment about the “kindness of strangers” in her home. While this may be a big gesture, it’s such a good reminder of how other people’s kindnesses, big or small, can completely remake our day into something better. This post certainly made my day feel brighter and lighter. I wish Lucy all the best in her new (and old) home.

  99. Oh my gosh, I just teared up at work! Everything you’ve written, Joanna, about your sister and Paul really makes this makeover so extra special. I’m actually reading Paul’s book right now (I started it yesterday and only have 30 pages left, it’s so good), and even though I don’t know him, I look at these rooms and think of him and Lucy and how this is such a wonderful gift full of both of them. Jenny did such an amazing job! It’s such a night and day difference!! (And that picture of Lucy crying at the reveal- that just killed me! So happy for her!)

  100. Le Smurf says...

    Wow! Such touching pictures. Lucy looks so happy and she deserves to be. Best of luck to her and her little lady in their Newish-old home. This is the loveliest house tour ever Joanna, lucky us that you girls chose to share. Sending you both a massive squish from Dublin! Xo

  101. Damn I teared up like crazy reading about lamp fixtures and accent walls.

    • Amy P says...

      Same here!

  102. Emma says...

    Thank you for sharing another aspect of your sister’s journey. God bless her.

  103. Janna Van Velson says...

    I read this while fighting back tears. How lovely your friend is to help your sister feel at home again. Just beautiful. I’m crying again while writing this comment! Ugh!
    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful moment with all of us!

  104. Liz says...

    How did she brighten up the rooms so much? I don’t see that many lights around? Did they just take the after pictures during a brighter time of day? :\

  105. Leanne says...

    Wow, what a wonderful gift for a brave woman.

  106. Rachel says...

    So much love to your sister. The new look is definitely “fresh” – and hopefully provides comfort to your dear family. :)

  107. Erin says...

    aw this is gorgeous. it definitely was created beautifully and gave lucy a place where she didn’t have to leave her home but a new start. I love it!

  108. Lisa says...

    What a lovely transformation! Lucy’s face shows how much this change meant for her!

  109. Kristen says...

    I just finished Dr. Kalanithi’s book and I can’t stop thinking about what Lucy has gone through this past year. I feel so inspired by his words and her’s. She is a shining light! It makes me so happy to see this post. What a beautiful new page in her book.

    Hoping for many years of wonderful memories for Lucy and her little one.

  110. There is a lot of heart in this post. Beautiful work by Jenny and even more beautifully received by your sister! Thank you for sharing! xo

  111. Oh my goodness! This is the sweetest thing, things don’t bring happiness, but new things do apparently ;) But seriously, Joanna you were my favorite person on internet and now (trying to be as least creepy as possible), I truly like you more. I hope your family will grow healthy and happy from now on.

    All the best!

  112. Madie says...

    Love this. Three design-related takeaways stand out for me: 1. Small rugs ARE such a bummer. TRUTH. 2. Sewing more than one small IKEA rug together? Genius. Best idea I’ve heard in a long time, especially for something that’s going to get dirty and need replacement like a front hall runner. 3. That bed! (insert heart-eyes emoji).

  113. Sarah says...

    This is so beautiful. What a make over for your sister and her family. You can feel the emotion in the photographs, thank you for sharing!

  114. Megan says...


    This is one of the most beautiful and touching things I’ve read online. Beautiful!

    I’m a follower of Jenny’s – now I know where those brackets she posted on Instagram went!

  115. Tricia says...

    This is beautiful! And touching!

  116. What a beautiful post in so many ways. A wonderful idea to both help Lucy continue to heal while honoring her home with Paul. Fantastic!

  117. Anni says...

    This brought tears to my eyes. How beautiful!

  118. Carolyn says...

    This post made me cry. What a wonderful and loving gesture for Lucy! I have thought of her many times since reading Paul’s book. I wish her much happiness in this new, fresh space!

  119. mandy says...

    wow, her home is so beautiful! i’m so happy for her- what a sweet gift.

  120. Emily says...

    This made me tear up – beautiful!

  121. Jennifer says...

    Oh my god, this is amazing. I cried reading it. Way to go Jenny! and congrats on the “new home” Lucy!

  122. What an incredible gift. I was so touched by your post on her husbands story, and this is just amazing. Not only is the design of this new apartment perfection and truly gorgeous, but the reveal pictures made me tear up with joy. Such a wonderful thing you and Jenny did for your sister, thank you so much for sharing with us!


  123. This is a touching and heartwarming tribute to your very brave, remarkable sister. Truly moved. Thank you for sharing the kindness of others with the world. Lovely.

  124. Jenna says...

    I’ve never cried from a home tour until now. What a beautiful fresh beginning for Lucy! I’ve been following your blog since I graduated college (6 years!) and have watched your family go through this tragic experience with such grace and love. Thank you for sharing this with us, Joanna!

  125. Everything about this is so beautiful. My heart is so full for your sister- what an amazing gift!

  126. Heidi says...

    This really made my day!

  127. This is so beautiful. Your sister so deserves it and it’s just so beautiful.

  128. Caitlin says...

    Her apartment is absolutely beautiful- this post made me cry! Enjoy your new space, Lucy- you deserve it!

  129. olivia says...

    I am tearing up reading this. What a beautiful post. I wish your sister & her daughter all the best with their fresh start!

  130. Tara Rasmus says...

    Oh, this brought tears to my eyes and made me so happy. What an incredible gift you gave to your sister, Joanna. And Jenny K is just the best! I LOVE how she does such innovative, beautiful and budget-friendly projects—she is a genius. I want to be her when I grow up.

  131. Richelle says...

    Lovely, lovely post. The design work is pretty and fresh and warm, and Lucy’s reaction was so sweet, it made me tear up. Thank you for sharing this.

  132. Megan says...

    Cried. Such a lovely thing to do for your sister and a beautiful result to boot! just finished reading Paul’s book last week and continue to think about Lucy and your family. A big internet hug to you all.

  133. Kim says...

    Your sister’s reaction….I am sobbing. I am so happy for her. You are a good sister :)

  134. So lovely. Thank you for sharing. She is so lucky to have a sister like you. That photo of Lucy with tears in her eyes? SLAYED me. Totally butting into the none of my business category, I think you should move out there. :) Oh and loved that portrait of Toby in the old hallway – I hope they kept it somewhere!

  135. If I weren’t at work right now, I’d be clapping so hard and crying so hard!

    I was hooked on Paul & Lucy’s story the first time you mentioned them and have read along as their journey became more difficult and finally ended with reading Paul’s book in one sitting. I’m a stranger but I feel like I know Lucy in a way and I’m so happy that she has this wonderful refreshing space for a fresh start that still leaves a little room for Paul.

    So good!

  136. Amy says...

    Love this post. Thanks for sharing so many photos. Sometimes when I come across home makeovers I find four pictures posted and I’m disappointed because I can’t see the whole home. Lucy’s place is beautiful. Kudos to Jenny for doing such a wonderful job.

  137. Amy L says...

    It’s all so gorgeous. The photo of Jenny and Lucy at the end letting the moment sink in was beautiful and brought me to tears.

  138. Lane says...

    This made me tear up. I think all of us readers were heartbroken for your sister and her family, and the thought of someone doing something so special for such an important reason is truly astonishing. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story and reaction. Love to you and yours.

  139. Juliana says...

    this is breathtaking! the reaction pictures are my favorite

  140. Jacqueline says...

    Beautiful story! I’m so happy that Lucy has a place she can come home to and feel comforted. The reveal photos brought tears to my eyes!

  141. Sarah says...

    Cue me sobbing. So so so so so so so happy for Lucy, and you couldn’t have picked a better designer. Jenny inspires me weekly with her incredible DIY. What a beautiful home. Also, when we bought our house in August, I painted our bedroom blush, and it was the best decision ever. The rest of the house is filled with fun colors or white walls, but our bedroom is super cozy, warm, and soothing at the end of the day. Great wall color choice :)

  142. Erin says...

    This is so wonderful!!! It’s a beautiful space and I imagine it feels so incredible for Lucy! What a perfect gift!

  143. i love love love this. have thought about your sister so many times. i’m glad she’s got this beautiful fresh space to live in now!

  144. I legit have tears in my eyes. What a beautiful gift to your sister. It’s just perfect.

  145. Maggie says...

    Joanna, this is the sweetest thing! I’m tearing up. What a lovely gift for your sister, and her comment that “the kindness of strangers is in my house” is just so important. Thank you for sharing!

  146. Ashley says...

    This was so beautiful (the space and the story), thank you for sharing.

  147. Wow. This has kind of restored my faith in humanity. I’m so touched that you and your friend Jenny did something so life-changing for your sister and niece. I’m feeling the love. Thanks for sharing.

  148. Cynthia says...

    I can’t believe the transformation! So light, bright, and airy! I love the blush pink walls in the bedroom because they feminine without overdoing it. As for Pepto-Bismol pink, I had to take a different route to work because of road construction, and I passed a house painted Pepto-Bismol pink! Ugh! Obviously, there was no neighborhood association to prevent it.