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Fabulous faucets and fixtures

What’s new: Let imagination and creativity run in your bath and kitchen

Posted: September 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Toto Toilets can be customized with sport and other designs.

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We’ve all seen them — those guest bathrooms in people’s homes that make us envious. There, admiring a perfect arrangement of tile and porcelain, finished off with a bold sink design and elegant or arty plumbing fixtures, we imagine that the rest of the home is similarly decked out.

However, we are craftily steered by our hosts through a limited area surrounding the guest bath, with the excuse,“We haven’t had the housekeeper in recently.”

But it may be more devious than that. The guest bathroom may be the only room in the house that might make us envious. The rest of the home might be just as style-deficient as ours.

“You give them a focal point, and they think your whole house is like that,” said Sara Toral, only semi-kidding.

Toral is president of S&D A Decorative Showroom in Newhall, where hundreds of those envy-inducing plumbing fixtures cover the walls and fill out the floor.

The showroom has been open since 2004, and Toral was in the business long before that.

With her many years of experience, she understands how budget can limit dreams — resulting in a remodel-it-one-room-at-a-time method. Bathroom remodels, and the top-quality, elegantly designed fixtures themselves, can be pretty pricey.

For example, Toral said a basic tub and shower combo, tiled and installed (three walls of tile) might cost you around $7,800. And that’s basic. Fancy fixtures can raise the price dramatically.

Customer service

The most important thing is to have knowledge of what is available, and Toral, and S&D vice president Dolores Ybarra, can provide it (though Ybarra defers to Toral as the total expert).

“Good customer service is our top priority,” Toral said. “We try to give them full knowledge of the products. Our showroom carries everything, kitchen to bath to decorative hardware. We carry something for everyone’s wallet size, and we can inform them of sales so the customer gets better quality for the same money.”

In this regard, Toral noted Huntington Brass as a company that works with her when she wants to offer special sales, which could be on any major holiday, even Halloween.

Fixture fantasyland

Even if you aren’t looking to remodel your kitchen or bath, a visit to S&D is a treat.

The array of faucets, sinks, toilets, tubs and everything else is stunning. You’ll almost feel like you’re visiting an art museum, with hand-painted sinks resembling works by the masters and oil-rubbed bronze fixtures resembling sculpture.

The fact these are all functional, and many quite innovative, only adds to your amazement.

Your tour guide will be Toral, whose energy and enthusiasm for her products will bubble over and get you just as excited as she is.

Many of these items carry price tags that might temper your enthusiasm, but Toral reminds that, when you are going to have them installed by someone in the “trade,” you are eligible for the trade discount, up to 40 percent off. And, additionally, she can inform you about sale prices.

Faucets

The faucets, handles, showerheads and associated hardware at S&D range from the small and simple to the large and multifeatured.

Most are available in several finishes, with the price going up as you move from chrome to polished brass to brushed or satin nickel to bronze, oil-rubbed bronze and satin gold. There are even “Living finishes,” which Toral said take on a more classically aged look over time as the finish reacts with the oils from people’s hands.

With the finer finishes (and finer associated décor), the price of that aforementioned bathroom remodel could move on up to $9,000 or $12,000.

Toral said that folks in the SCV tend to like the classic, hook-shaped spout on their faucets, and they often want “professional” features for their kitchen faucets, such as a side sprayer.

An example of this would be the Waterstone Gantry with side sprayer. With a satin nickel finish, this large fixture retails for $2,400.

Correspondingly, a Huntington Brass Seascape fixture with side sprayer retails for $600 normally, but Toral said that on a sale day it might be as low as $299.

One of the most unique and interesting kitchen faucets was the tall Talo model, which included a pull-out sprayer and water flow that is touch-activated.

Thus, when your hands are dirty, you don’t have to touch the faucet handle. Merely tap it with your wrist and the water flows.

In chrome, this model retails for $770. In oil-rubbed bronze it is $969.

Unique bathroom faucets are plentiful as well, including dolphin-shaped spigots, golf-related fixtures or a horse head-shaped spigot by Aquadis, in oil-rubbed bronze, at $2,100.

“We had a lot of people in Sand Canyon (horse properties) who wanted these,” Toral said. “We have specialty items you won’t find at Home Depot.”

Sinks

As mentioned, the hand-painted sinks at S&D resemble artwork by the masters. But I felt myself drawn to the more modern, arty sinks, especially the counter-top styles.

One of my favorite sinks (and Toral’s) is the Crystal Wall Sink from La Toscana. Toral dubbed this the “Rolling Stone Sink” because of its resemblance to the famous Rolling Stones poster with the big tongue sticking out of the lips.

That’s because a large, “tongue-shaped” “basin” of clear glass juts out, catching the water from the spigot and draining it back through a slot in the porcelain box attached to the wall.

This impressive setup is $4,000 retail.

Toilets

Toral said that toilets by Toto are the number one seller at S&D. With the currently-required low volume flush of 1.28 gallons, they feature a larger diameter trap than other brands, which makes flushing much more efficient.

You can get these toilets customized as well and an example in the showroom was a toilet with a “Dodgers” logo on the tank and a baseball design on the lid.

Another Toto toilet (at $6,800) senses whether you are standing, guy-style, or needing to sit, and automatically opens the lid and raises the seat, as necessary.

There are also several settings for bidet and other adjustments on its control panel. (One can imagine the fun when this controller gets a computer virus!)

Considerations

When you come into S&D, Toral will ask you a series of questions about your wishes, needs, budgets and plans, and thereby you and she will arrive at the perfect solution for your upgrade or remodel, whatever the scope. And while a small budget might have you desiring to purchase cut-rate fixtures online, she offered this advice:

-- Make sure the product is UPC (Universal Product Code) approved

-- Make sure it is lead-free (a California requirement now)

-- Make sure replacement parts are available

“If your item meets all of these requirements, then you’re OK,” Toral said.

But why not purchase it from an expert, who can probably get it for the same price or better?

If you are considering any level of bathroom or kitchen remodel, you might want to visit S&D, regardless of your budget.

You’ll leave wanting everything you see there, of course, but you’ll also leave fully prepared to match your needs and desires to your money, and you’ll be assured you are getting the best possible value.

Toral will go the extra mile to accomplish this.

“Sara has the knowledge and passion for this business,” Ybarra said. “She’s the reason we’re still open and why people keep coming back and keep referring new people to us.”

S&D A Decorative Showroom is located at 24872 N. Apple St., Newhall, CA 91321. (Call for directions as it is easy to miss.) The phone number is (661) 964-0555. The showroom is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (The store will be closed today.)

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