interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: tonya and mike sutfin

by anne

today we’re invited into the home of freelance graphic/publication designer tonya sutfin and her illustrator husband, mike. it’s hard to believe that they’re renters in this fantastic loft in a former furniture factory in emeryville, ca. tonya jokes that most people often think that the only thing that emeryville has to offer is ikea, when in fact it’s a haven for artists with great warehouses and loft spaces (and home to pixar), claiming “it’s SO willy wonka.” i always love seeing designers thrive in unexpected places, so it’s a wonderful treat having this sneak peek into their great home. thanks so much tonya and mike! and if what you see below isn’t enough to fill your fancy, click here to see more. –anne

[Above: Our bedroom is lofted, by only four steps, and open to the rest of the loft, We positioned our bed to face the only wall, which helps us feel somewhat enclosed and private. The nightstands were a craigslist find. I am in love with the graceful arches.]

Across the bed is the credenza, another craigslist find. I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw it for sale! The print above is by Robert McGinnis and was my gift to Mike at our wedding. It’s actually signed to Mike personally! The chair was a gift from my mom a long time ago. It is usually occupied by a kitty named Orange.


My desk is flanked by bookcases and I like to keep decorative and inspiring items there. The artwork is Mark Ryden‘s Blood, Sweat and Tears Micro Portfolio and the little monkey is part of The Scavengers from Kathie Olivas. I have to mention this odd flower. The red caps, which are hard like shells, eventually pop off to reveal the lovely yellow pom poms. It’s amazing!


Our bathroom is in the back of the apartment and therefore has zero natural light. We live in a live/work building and one of the features is this pocket door in the middle. It’s supposed to hide the shower from fancy clients that might come through, but we pretty much leave it open all the time.


Meet Roosevelt. At a mere 19.5 pounds he is presence. Here he enjoys the view from our wall of windows. If I moved that bench, all hell would break loose.

This is one chair from a pair that I found on the always trustworthy craigslist, the other resides in the living room. Every home needs an Uglydoll.


I work in the hallway. This may sound dreadful but it’s actually a perfect spot. Mike’s studio (not shown. complete disarray at time of shoot. very busy boy) is in the back of the apartment and this is his view. We like how the light filters back to us but doesn’t affect our monitors.


This little table and chair set was from a Salvation Army in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois. I think I paid $15 and at the time it was held together by paint. But my mom is so clever and together we refinished and reinforced this die-hard piece. Since then it has traveled with me through numerous apartments. It always seems to have a place!


Ikea, an Emeryville landmark, is located just across the train tracks from where we live. Can you tell?


I broke up our wall of books with little dioramas. On display, another Campus Cutie, inspired by Audrey maybe? And the Pup Cup by Yoshitomo Nara. Everyone is so sleepy…

Suggested For You


  • Wow, I love the subtlety of all the textures and natural tones in this home, and also the eclectic art collection and the ways in which it’s framed and displayed throughout the home. Lovely!

  • No, no…Tonya and Mike…this is okay. Really. No…this is good for me. It’s character building. I just keep repeating my mantra and breathing deeply. “Don’t hate them for their home. Don’t hate them for their home. Don’t hate them for their home.” ;)


  • i have to say my tops favs are your credenza(sigh), your shower curtain(dreamy), your windows (mah-GAWD!), that cozy craigslist chair, and your big fat kitty (more to squeeze!)

  • I know I’ve seen that duvet/bedspread before but I can’t place it…. help?

    Your place is heavenly, I’m dying a little inside over that chair and ottoman.

  • Thanks for all the wonderful comments! The shower curtain is Marimekko from Crate and Barrel and the duvet is dwell from Anthropologie. Unfortunately, both are discontinued.

  • Having been to this place, I know how awesome it is. But seeing all the details in this feature is really cool. And its nice to see what can be done with rented spaces.

  • Once upon a time my best friend lived in that ‘hood. It was an old elementary school turned into lofts. Awesome space.

    Your place is GREAT! love all the craiglist finds. It will keep me motivated to keep an eye out.

  • Fabulous. Every time I see your place, there’s always something new to see that I missed before. I love that you have all these family heirlooms throughout the house. Great job, Tonya!

  • I’m pretty sure its Eucalyptus Erythrocorys or Illyarrie or Red Capped Gum. Its a gum tree that flowers those beautiful yellow flowers.

  • What a beautiful home! I especially love the wood furniture in the first two pictures. Everything else is lovely as well, very cozy and yet sophisticated.

  • Beautiful home!

    I have a dresser from the Kent Coffey line, and another from the Broyhill Brasilia collection, both found on craigslist. Always fun to see other people out there with similar finds!

  • I love the designs that Tonya has created! Mike and Tonya”s loft is so warm and inviting and is perfectly decorated. You are a wonderfull interior designer, Tonya!

  • truly made me rethink loft-living; your place has a livable elegance coupled with a great sense of humor and eye for detail. and oh, those kitties…

  • How do all these houses look so nice when the people have cats? I have three and everything new I bring into my house eventually becomes a scratched up, hairy mess! What is your secret?

  • Though there was probably furniture made in some of the studios that were in the building before it was condoed, I’m pretty sure Tonya and Mike’s building is the old Dole fruit-drying warehouse.

  • I have heard there was fruit-drying here! We’ve had many conversations (arguments?) about what this building used to be. I also heard that punk kids would squat here before it was converted. Gotta love a building with history, makes up for all the modern detail.

    To Liz about kitties, we have two of these scratching posts


    and I vacuum a lot! We should buy stock in tape rollers.

  • The way you’ve controlled the light to create color is amazing!
    Your talent blows me away.

    I see Roosevelt is still working on that diet! xoxo

  • Your loft is amazing. The furniture, the color scheme, all that natural light…wow!
    You are a true designer.

  • Love the loft–such a nice palette. I too have a Broyhill piece from the Saga line. It still had the original labels inside it–very fun old marketing materials.

    That said, with all that gorgeousness, I am embarrassed to admit that the thing that drew most of my attention was the simple clip-on wire bookend in the last shot. Source?

  • I used to live in this building, in apt #301. How marvelous to see what you did with the space, incorporating the existing elements and using everything so well. The floor plan looks like the one I had (go knock on the door and find out if the interior walls are still sponged pink and yellow) and the visual stroll through your place was so much fun. Beautiful job!

  • I just got a Broyhill bedroom set. I love the bed you have! I would be perfect for our room. What is it and where can I find it? I live just down the road in Rockridge. =D

  • i am always the last to the party (because i never get a chance to read my feeds until the night before the start of a new week!)

    i loooove the understated mid-centuryness of this whole home, as well as the texture! but my favorite part might be michael chabon’s maps and legends snuck into that last picture there – it’s my favorite book of the year…

  • I just bought a craigslist desk. Mid century modern style. I think it’s teak. There are stains and dents in it so I need to refinish the top. Any tips after your ‘salvation army’ table refinishing experience?

  • beautiful home. thanks for sharing.

    please confirm that there are secure screens on the window that keep roosevelt and orange inside! i see that photo of roosevelt looking out the open window (on that bench you dare not move; ha) and hope there are safety screens there! thanks again.

  • A little late, but I must respond. Yes, there are screens on the windows! That’s my biggest fear…

    And the table, all I can say is TONS of elbow grease. Not sure what the wood is, but it is incredibly strong which meant we could get aggressive. But if your wood is softer, I recommend light sanding in many layers. Good luck!

  • i know this is kinda an old post but i absolutly love this space and that chair that was found on craigslist, does anyone know what the name of that style chair is so i can try to have one of my own. thanks:) happy designing!

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.