Sister surprises her widowed twin with home makeover

Sister Surprises Her Twin with Home Makeover After Husband Passes Away
Sister Surprises Her Twin with Home Makeover After Husband Passes Away

Joanna Goddard, blogger at Cup of Jo, was right by her twin sister's side when her husband was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. She also acted as her sister's support system when he passed away.

Joanna Goddard, left, and Lucy Kalanithi, right, pictured at a book reading of "When Breath Becomes AIr". (Courtesy of Joanna Goddard)

Inevitably, when her sister, Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, was ready to move on and begin a-new, Goddard jumped in with a new idea: she would give her widowed sibling's home a makeover.

"Although we live on opposite sides of the country, I was very involved during Paul's diagnosis, illness and death," Goddard told "I adore her, and it's hard to watch someone you love in so much pain."

Joanna Goddard and Lucy Kalanithi are twin sisters, born only two minutes apart. (Courtesy of Joanna Goddard)

After Dr. Lucy Kalanithi's husband died, she did many things to try to keep his memory alive. She left his favorite books untouched, and even published a New York Times bestseller using the manuscript he left behind.

But a year after his passing, Kalanithi was "craving a fresh start." She told her sister that her rooms felt "echo-y" and she felt like "bursting into tears" whenever she thought about returning to a home without her husband.

Lucy Kalanithi's living room, before. (Courtesy of Cup of Jo)

Her blogger twin decided it was time to step in. With the aid of an interior designer friend, Jenny Komenda, she gave the California home a makeover.

"It still felt like the house she had shared with Paul, but she wanted it to feel like a home of their own," Goddard wrote on her blog.

Lucy Kalanithi's living room, after. (Courtesy of Cup of Jo)

"Jenny, my mom and I talked to Lucy in depth about what she wanted to keep and what she wanted to pack away," Goddard told "Those were very personal, hard decisions for her to make."

With the guidelines of her new home being "bright and colorful and nature-y," the trio sprang into action. They focused on brightening the rooms, adding more light sources, and freeing up the walls.

Lucy Kalanithi's bedroom, before. (Courtesy of Cup of Jo)

Goddard told that they had originally been worried about her reaction to the new look of the home, since it would be such a dramatic step away from her life with her late husband. But interior designer Komenda channeled Kalanithi's personality into the home, and was sure to include personal details into the decor.

Lucy Kalanithi's bedroom, after. (Courtesy of Cup of Jo)

When the new rooms were finally unveiled, "our whole family was in tears!" Goddard said. "It had been such a hard year, and this home makeover was just what she needed."

"Lucy mentioned how much she especially loves the family photos in the entryway. They're of her siblings and siblings-in-law, and remind her of all these people who adore her," Goddard told "Jenny painted the inside of the front door royal blue, which Lucy says is such a fun, upbeat touch."

"Before, I'd be sitting at home watching TV and it felt so lonely," Kalanithi said, according to Cup of Jo, "I feel like a fresh, cool lady in my house. So much love and care went into it."

To see Lucy Kalanithi's full home makeover, go to