Focusing on products made Stateside wasn’t Danny Seo’s first priority for his kitchen renovation—instead, he had one specific requirement: stainless-steel cabinets to replace the original, musty wood ones. "Stainless steel is timeless," he says. "I wanted something that was clean on the outside and on the inside. It’s hygienic, 100 percent recyclable, and, for the home’s modern feel and look, it made the most sense." A new smudge-free finish by Lasertron, a Florida-based company, caught Seo’s eye, sparking an internal conversation about domestic production. "I asked where they make the cabinets; they said, ‘Right here in Florida,’" Seo says. He then started looking around for other American-made trappings, deciding on tile by Shaw Floors (Georgia); Wilsonart’s HD laminate (Texas); Bosch appliances (South Carolina); and a Kohler cast-iron sink (Wisconsin). The process provided Seo with an education about the diversity of the American manufacturing industry: "There are lots of small companies and large manufacturers who make products domestically at all different price points, styles, and colors," he says. "Whatever your taste or budget, it is possible to buy the majority of your items ‘Made in the USA.’"
Seo liked his existing kitchen layout, but the wood cabinets didn’t pass muster. He replaced them with stainless-steel models. As a professional photo stylist, he needed to accommodate a vast collection of kitchen items, such as multiples of plates, wooden bowls, and utensils. Seo specified 24-inch-deep cabinets, with tall shelves instead of small compartments. A niche on the living room side of the cabinets offers easily accessible, protected storage for cookbooks. "When people come over, they normally stand there and they can look at books if they’d like," he says.
Seo chose Petrified Hickory ceramic tiles in Relic, from Shaw Floors, laid out in a herringbone pattern, to highlight the kitchen’s 32-foot length. "It’s an open floor plan from the kitchen to the laundry room to the office, so I wanted something that felt like a runner," he says.
Wilsonart’s Colombian Walnut laminate sheathes the work surfaces. "I didn’t want marble or granite because they aren’t sustainable," says Seo. "Laminate is one of the few surfaces recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council toward LEED certification. Plus it’s affordable and I liked the way it looked—a triple whammy."
After renovating his bathroom with Spruce glass tile by Shaw Floors, Seo had leftover material that he used for the backsplash behind the hood and Bosch stove: "It creates a dramatic focal point—a happy accident!" The Purist faucet and Riverby sink are by Kohler.
Danny Seo (@DannySeoMag) will join @Dwell and @DesignMilk on Monday, July 14, for the first installment of #ModernMonday, a live, weekly Twitter conversation on a specific topic. We'll kick off the series with a discussion about American modern design. Join in at 1 p.m. EST.
A New York-based writer, Diana studied art history and environmental policy at UC Davis. Before rising to Senior Editor at Dwell—where she helped craft product coverage, features, and more—Diana worked in the Architecture and Design departments at MoMA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She counts finishing a 5K as one of her greatest accomplishments, gets excited about any travel involving trains, and her favorite magazine section is Rewind. Learn more about Diana at: http://dianabudds.com