Supplies You Need Are Here in the West – Sunset Magazine

Americans are importing a record-smashing amount of stuff. Like, so much stuff that there are cargo ships backed up in the Pacific Ocean waiting to unload it in ports along the West Coast in Oakland, Long Beach, and Tacoma.

What does any of this have to do with your bathroom renovation plans, you may ask?

Let’s connect the dots. Analysts blame the above surge on changing consumer habits during the pandemic. Money that was spent on services before is being used to purchased goods now. And many of those goods come from China—on vessels overloaded with containers, which are falling into the ocean at an alarming rate. The shipping crisis has a negative economic impact, no question. But the massive, idling ships are also ruining gorgeous water views, and polluting the air and the water while they wait—sometimes for two full weeks.

The current home renovation boom is contributing to the problem. According to a renovation report, spending in this category was up 15% in 2020, and more than half of homeowners surveyed had some plans to renovate in 2021. Many toppling containers are filled with cheaply made tile, sinks, towel bars … you get the idea.

The good news is that there are plenty of options for everything you need to remodel a bathroom—and many of them are manufactured within 1,000 miles of any location in the West. Buying locally, or even regionally, will reduce the carbon footprint of your project, support domestic jobs, and encourage great American design in the process.

You may already know about Heath Ceramics in the Bay Area, which has been making some of California’s favorite tile and tableware since 1948. But did you know that Rocky Mountain Hardware casts metal faucets and cabinet pulls in Idaho? Or that the top-selling freestanding bathtubs are made in Southern California?

Here are some of our favorite brands designing and manufacturing building materials in our own backyard.

FIRECLAY TILE: Aromas, California

Fireclay founder and chief ceramicist Paul Burns started working with his uncle in the family tile business as an apprentice when he was 10. By 1986, he had branched out to found his own business, with a commitment to using recycled and sustainable materials and creating a fair work environment for his employees in a zero-waste facility. Today, their range of tile, glass, and brick in a broad range of modern colors, shapes, and patterns are among the most impressive out there.


Using old-world bronze casting techniques and unique designs, Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Hardware products pass through 30 hands in the production process at a factory near Sun Valley. (People who are into the idea of pouring 2,200-degree molten metal into sand casts may enjoy some time on their website.) Door hardware, cabinet pulls, towel bars, sinks, faucets, hooks—they do it all.

O’BRIEN SINKS: Paso Robles, California

O’Brien Sinks is a small, family-owned sink business in Central California that was founded in 1982. They make their porcelain under-mount and drop-in sinks “with plenty of high-fives” in a small, dusty factory and sell them at roughly 30 specialty plumbing stores nationwide—including 20 in California.

CALIFORNIA FAUCETS: Huntington Beach, California

From their headquarters and factory in Huntington Beach, the California Faucets team has been making high-end faucets, shower systems, drains, and kitchen hardware since 1988. Founder Fred Silverstein passed away in 2019, but his four children still run the business, which is known for its mix-and-match fittings, hand-assembled products, quick delivery, and collections named for beloved California neighborhoods, like Montecito, Rincon, and Mendocino.


A business that started in the founder R.R. Wheeler’s garage nearly 30 years ago is now the top manufacturer of freestanding tubs—slipper, double-ended, clawfoot, pedestal—in America made out of patented AcraStone. All orders ship within six to seven weeks.


The design darlings at Schoolhouse Electric started out making light fixtures and have expanded their modern-farmhouse-meet-industrial-chic aesthetic to include much of what you need to outfit a house, including clocks, some furniture, and textiles. While some of the materials are sourced outside of the U.S., everything is still assembled in their Portland factory.

PAPERSTONE: Hoquiam, Washington

Made from 100% recycled paper and petroleum-free resin sourced in the U.S. at a factory in Washington state, Paperstone countertops are surprisingly durable, entirely water resistant, and earn points toward LEED certification.

HEATH CERAMICS: Sausalito, California

Anyone who has paid a visit to the Heath Ceramics factory in Sausalito to shop for slightly imperfect seconds, load up on dishes, or peruse their gorgeous tile options has seen where the magic happens—in a mid-century factory that feels more like an idyllic art studio than a globally celebrated manufacturing facility. Founder Edith Heath had vivid memories of her family’s struggles through the Great Depression when she founded the business in 1948, and prioritized using local clay from the Sacramento area as a cost-saving measure. Her resourceful vision lives on today.

KOHLER TOILET: Brownsville, Texas

Even the most utilitarian fixtures in a bathroom can be sourced on our shores—like a toilet. With three remaining factories in the U.S.—in Kohler, Wisconsin; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Brownsville, Texas—Kohler is still the largest domestic manufacturer of porcelain toilets. While you can’t request a Texas-made toilet, per se, you can buy Kohler products with the confidence that they’re doing their part to keep and create domestic jobs.

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