Renovation Diaries

This Couple Used a $17 Book to Help Them Design Their Kitchen — And It Was the Best Decision They Ever Made

published Sep 21, 2021
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Jenny Albertini and family in kitchen.
Credit: Jennifer Chase

When it comes to kitchen renovations, there are mood boards and then there are Mood Boards. Lots of us may just wander around Pinterest and Instagram, saving anything that catches our fancy. And that’s fine! But when professional organizer Jenny Albertini and her now-husband, Jason Hughes, started planning the renovation for their new-to-them 1920s bungalow in Washington, D.C., they took the time to really, and we mean really map out what they wanted. 

Jenny has an advantage on this front, of course, because she works with clients all the time helping them create spaces that make them happy. But any of us can take the same approach by following her lead. What’s her trick?

She read and loved (truly — she could talk forever about it!) the book Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee, which follows the research and science behind why we respond certain ways to different aesthetics. And a fundamental part of their planning was to work with a worksheet that’s part of the book. The Joyful Toolkit worksheet walked them through choosing elements they wanted to highlight in their home.

Credit: Jennifer Chase

They started with three elements: energy, freedom, and harmony. Who wouldn’t want those things? But choosing those three elements gave them parameters. Even more specific than asking if an item sparks joy in the Kondo way (Jenny is a certified KonMari consultant, so of course the space is also ridiculously well organized!), they were able to drill down to only those items that supported one or more of those elements. 

Credit: Jennifer Chase

Take energy, for instance: Adding vibrant pops of color nurtures a feeling of energy. Open space, natural light, and natural textures contribute to an aesthetic of freedom. And to invoke harmony, they used repeating patterns, like the hexagon tile, for example. 

When there’s literally an entire world of options out there for a reno, it’s easy to succumb to decision fatigue, or even to get overwhelmed and just freeze. 

Credit: Jennifer Chase

Identifying what mattered to them, and using those three key elements as a way to quickly decide if a design choice supported one of them, paved the way for a much smother renovation. (Well, at least in terms of being able to make decisions; there’s no magic book to fix contractor woes, inspection delays, or global pandemics.)

Credit: Jennifer Chase

In the end, the joyful, functional kitchen speaks to what’s important to Jenny and Jason, and to who they really are as people. It’s a space they love and that they thrive in, and not just because it’s beautiful, but because every aspect of it sparks joy.

See Jenny’s Full Reno Diary