When interior designer and Robern Brand Ambassador Alena Capra first moved to Southern Florida in the late ’90s, she was in awe of the beautiful buildings and iconic art deco design in Miami Beach’s historic district. “Being a native New Yorker, it was vastly different from what I grew up seeing in terms of architectural styles — from buildings to hotels and even homes,” she says. “I was immediately inspired.”
Now, as the owner of the award-winning Alena Capra Designs in Fort Lauderdale and host of the South Florida-inspired design show, SoFlo Home Project, Capra is renowned for her own unmistakable signature style — a fusion of calming color palettes, clean lines, and luxurious finishes that transform any space into a relaxing retreat.
Here, Capra shares what’s inspiring her right now, how she keeps wellness at the forefront of her designs, and her tips for honing your own signature style.
"Our homes are our sanctuaries. Taking care to keep a space clutter-free, with good organizational solutions, is a great place to start.” Alena Capra
Q: In the modern-day bathroom, the marriage of style and functionality helps to create a sense of sanctuary. How do you integrate wellness into your designs to provide homeowners with that feeling of serenity and relaxation each time they walk into the room?
A: Great style and function is the ultimate goal when designing any space for a client, and specifically in rooms like the bathroom. To create a room with great function, the space planning is crucial, followed by specifying the best fixtures and finishes to achieve this for the occupants of that particular space.
This is also where style comes into play. Our homes are our sanctuaries, so taking care to keep a space clutter-free, with good organizational solutions, is a great place to start. From there, it’s all about selecting beautiful materials and a soothing color palette. Much of what we see right now involves biophilic design and that connection to nature when it comes to creating serene spaces.
Q: You’ve created beautiful living spaces around the country, and you’re heavily involved in design education initiatives. What advice would you offer to up-and-coming designers looking to define their signature style?
A: My best advice to up-and-coming designers is to let your signature design style evolve naturally. Your design style will evolve on its own over time — as design trends change, as materials to specify evolve, and even with the type of projects you are working on and where they are located.
Go to as many different types of design industry trade shows as possible to get inspired by products, because knowledge of products allows you to create with unlimited options. Never stop learning about new products in the industry! Inspiration can come from magazines, photos, and of course travel — but there's nothing quite like seeing amazing new materials or products in person, and then figuring out your own way to create with them for your clients.
Q: How do you infuse the spaces you create with your own signature style? What elements, products, or details would you consider the hallmarks of an Alena Capra project?
A: I like for each of my design projects to be different, but I would say they all have a similar thread of clean lines, beautiful wall treatments, and unique tile or stone choices. And all of the finishes on the fixtures will match! I love matchy-matchy things, whether it’s in interior design or in fashion — but especially when it comes to specific finishes in bathroom fixtures and accessories. If we’re using a brushed brass finish, I spend a lot of time making sure all the metal elements are in the same tone or finish.
I also love neutral interiors with lots of beautiful textures in the materials — but I am just as comfortable designing spaces that have a lot of fun color in the palette too! My favorite color to design with is blue — any shade of it. Right now, I’m beginning to work with a lot of greens as well, as it’s been a huge trend in design.
Q: How does modularity support creativity when designing a bathroom space? You’ve created some stunning designs using the Cartesian Collection — what are the advantages of modular vanity solutions?
A: I love the Cartesian collection — not only because it’s that winning combo of beauty and function, but also because it’s modular! It allows for so many different configurations. I’ve specified it in everything from powder rooms to guest baths and primary baths of all sizes.
Modular pieces allow you to create and find great design solutions. With the Cartesian Collection, I love that I can stack the cabinets and maximize storage, or float a single cabinet for a very spacious look in a smaller bath.
I’m also a big fan of the fact that there are many different glass front options to choose from. My favorites are the Satin Bronze and Satin White finishes. Something beautiful happens with the color of those finishes in different lighting — and they always look amazing!
Q: Whether you’re working on residential or commercial spaces, what are your most important tips for creating bespoke design? How do you capture a client’s vision and translate it into an elegant yet livable space?
A: The most important thing is to listen to the client’s needs, and then use your experience and expertise to bring that to fruition in a beautiful and functional way — within the budget of the project.
Specifying products of great quality is also a big part of the equation. I love using Robern products in my projects because they are beautiful and well-made — and, most importantly, my clients love them!
Q: As a creator, what new interior design trends are you most excited about or inspired by? Are you incorporating any of these trends into your work today? How do you think bathroom design will continue to evolve over the next five to ten years?
A: I love all of the beautiful options available in porcelain panels and slabs right now. There is so much that can be done with them in a design project — from wall cladding, to flooring, to even creating furniture pieces. I specify a lot of porcelain slabs in my projects.
I’m also excited about the color green being such a big trend. I've recently specified some gorgeous quartzite countertops in green, and it’s one of my favorite stones I’ve used in a project to date.
I’ve been designing bathrooms for 20 years and have loved seeing the trends change and evolve over that time. It’s amazing to see how advances in technology — in all facets of the industry — have allowed us to create such beautiful designs with all that’s out there to choose from. I’m excited to see what the future of bathroom design holds!