Our Design Director's Hayes Valley Home

Our Design Director's Hayes Valley Home

Julie Wells

Our “At Home” series has featured brilliant artists and creatives up and down the coast of California, and this latest installment feels even closer to home. Our very own Design Director, Whitney Thornburg, invited us over to her recently renovated home in Hayes Valley, where we talked design, sustainability, art, community, and more. We couldn’t be more excited to step inside the spaces that inspire her, and see where so many of the designs we know and love were born.

Join us as we explore Whitney’s Coyuchi-filled home and learn her tips for easing into a more sustainable lifestyle.

Whitney, we’re so excited to be here! Thank you for sharing your bright and beautiful space with us. What is it about your house that makes you feel at home?

Our cats! We adopted our two kittens from a foster parent while living through the long tail of construction. Having them greet us at the door, try to join us at the dining table and lounge around with us in the living room makes our home complete.

We’d love to hear a bit about your space. How long have you called the Bay Area home?

I (Whitney) moved to San Francisco in 2001 from New York City, and we moved into our place in Hayes Valley a few years after getting married, in 2007. We love our active community and accessibility of the neighborhood. It’s full of fun restaurants, little boutiques and outdoor community spaces like Patricia’s Green.

After having two kids in the house we found a need for more space and started working on a remodel in 2018 - moving out early March 2020 right before everything shut down. We had the unique experience of selecting our home interiors through covid shutdowns but happily moved back in fall 2021. 

Love that you included the kitties! Which spaces are your favorite?

We love lounging together in the living room. During the remodel we added a central skylight and larger window which fill the space with light creating a welcoming, relaxing space. We also all love food (even our cats!) so we spend a lot of time in the kitchen & dining area together eating.

What is special about your neighborhood and community?

We love how we are able to walk to many places in San Francisco from our home. Although we’re officially in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, if you walked a few blocks you could be in Lower Haight, Duboce Triangle, The Castro, or the Mission. We take full advantage of this proximity with various walking and biking adventures. We also love the public art in our community - especially Jeremy Fish’s Bronze Bunny outside of the Haight Street Art Center. We watched the original Pink Bunny go up then be demolished and enjoy walking past the new-ish bronze one.

Who do you share your home with?

Whitney, Matt, Bear (11), Odin (9), Rio & Scout (almost 1 year).

Where are your favorite spots?

The first place we ever went to in Hayes Valley was Suppenküche back in the late ‘90’s and we still love it. They opened a Biergarten (no longer under the same ownership) in late 2010 / early 2011 when our first child was born and we have so many memories of this great, community friendly spot.

We also love Duboce Park which is used by all members of the community with great playgrounds for little kids, a fun dog park, the meditative labyrinth and a great little basketball court where we currently spend a lot of time.We also like the street closures on Hayes Street on the weekend and the Parklets for outdoor dining which bring people outdoors and connect in our community.

Can you tell us a little about your work?

I’m the design director of Coyuchi - so I research trends, develop color stories and work with my stellar team to bring Coyuchi beautiful, sustainable textiles each season. 

What inspires your work for Coyuchi?

I’m often inspired by natural spaces and how to bring nature into my home. One of our family’s favorite places to visit is Sea Ranch, which inspired our Fall 2022 collection, and the natural beauty mixed with the modern architecture was not only a point of inspiration for Coyuchi textiles but a number of details in our home remodel.

We do love to see what you and your team come up with season after season. You mention sustainability; how do you incorporate these ideas into your daily life?

We made a lot of sustainable decisions during our remodel - most of our electricity is generated by our solar panels. Matt likes to time the use of our appliances at peak solar generation periods. Also, all of our appliances are electric, including an induction range (which we love!), we installed a Filtron system with our washing machine to filter out micro plastics, we have recycled wool insulation which helps keep heating costs minimal in the winter and we have a whole house fan to cool the house instead of air conditioning. We also do a lot of little things like buying bulk, using reusable bags and paper towel replacements (like from Coyuchi’s Conserve collection!), and using earth friendly laundry products like TruEarth Laundry Sheets.

Love how you made so many sustainability-forward decisions in your remodel. Would you mind walking us through some of your sustainable routines?

I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all I could be doing to make life more sustainable. One way I overcame this is to adopt one new goal each month - like finding a place for reusable grocery bags to live so we remember to take them to the store or replacing plastic wrap with bowl covers and reusable containers.

What does a typical morning look like in your home?

Mornings are busy with two children needing to get to school and two working parents. We keep breakfast simple - usually bagels or yogurt with granola (we just started making our own on the weekends).

How about your evenings?

We’re often on the go in the evening with our children’s activities so we love the nights we are all able to get together for dinner. We like to make our own pasta sauces and Matt and I have been enjoying the natural wines from local wine shops and bars such as Millay and Bar Part Time.

How do you create a soothing space or a space that allows for different activities?

When working on the remodel, we created spaces that could be used in different ways. Our dining table is large enough that we can have a robotic building project set up while still having enough room for us to share a meal. We also have some small special places - like the nook by our front door for music (Odin plays the Guitar and Bear plays the Drums) and a mini-deck which is an outdoor connection between the boys’ rooms where our cats like to hang out.

Where do you pull design inspiration from?

Everywhere! We love to travel so we bring ideas from our trips into our home - especially in art and design objects. We also draw from local artists and designers. We used Red Dot Studio for our remodel project and were inspired by their work in green buildings when we thought about how to recreate our home. We also love the artist community in San Francisco and have filled our walls with many of our favorites. I’m lucky that Coyuchi’s headquarters are across the street from the Minnesota Street Project - an amazing gallery space which supports the arts community - and enjoy walking through the galleries for inspiration over lunch.

How do you refresh your space for new seasons? 

I think it’s important to build the items in your home over time. Taking time to find the just right piece of furniture, artwork, color of towel, or bedding that you’ll love for years to come. At Coyuchi we work to design home textiles that you can layer together season after season - ultimately building a great linen closet. Each season I think about what new layer is needed from something as simple as refreshed dish towels to a bigger purchase like a flannel sheet set for the chilly winter.

Lastly, what are your favorite recipes to make at home?

I love smoothies as a refreshing weekend snack or a quick breakfast. I tend to use what I have on hand, and have found they are a great way to use up the last bits of sweeter veggies and fruits before they go bad. My kids love helping to make them and were the first way they started to use knives in the kitchen when they were only preschoolers. 

You can try out Whitney’s customizable smoothie recipe for yourself, right here.