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Tracing Evolution with Kitchen & Bath Design: Alena Capra Shares Her Secrets

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About this Episode

Discover the Future of Kitchen and Bath Design with Alena Capra! In this episode of Remodeler Success Podcast, we’re thrilled to have the renowned interior designer, Alena Capra, sharing her 20 years of experience in the industry. Get ready to be inspired as Alena discusses the most noteworthy shifts in kitchen and bath design trends, the fundamental principles guiding her design process, and the cutting-edge advancements that are shaping the future of these spaces. Join us as we explore the world of interior design and hear Alena’s expert insights on creating dream projects for her clients. 

  • Gain Exclusive Insights from an Award-Winning Designer: Join us for an exciting podcast episode with Alena Capra, a certified master kitchen and bath designer with over 20 years of experience. Learn the tips and tricks from a seasoned industry expert who has successfully navigated the ups and downs of interior design, crafting stunning spaces that leave clients delighted.
  • Embrace the Future of Kitchen and Bath Design: Discover the latest trends and innovations that are revolutionizing the kitchen and bath industry. From state-of-the-art smart toilets to LED lighting and cutting-edge materials, Alena Capra shares her predictions on what’s next for the industry. Don’t miss out on this invaluable opportunity to stay ahead in a constantly evolving market.
  • Unleash Your Creativity with Customization Options: Explore the world of mixed finishes, two-tone cabinetry, and bold color choices. Alena Capra’s passion for personalized design shines through as she explains how to incorporate unique elements into your space, creating dream projects that leave a lasting impression on clients and elevate your business to new heights.


Dennis Oz

Welcome to Remodeler Success Podcast. I’m your host, Deniz Oz. Today we are in for a real treat, we are hosting an experienced and an amazing interior designer on our show. She has a lot of proven success, she’s going to be here to introduce herself in a minute.

But there’s a multitude of reasons why we are so thrilled about this, right? Firstly, in our show, our guests bring a lot of practical knowledge and insights from the years that they’re perfecting their craft. They’re navigating the twist and turns a lot of ups and downs, right? They are adapting to the challenging trends and also constantly producing their stunning and high quality work. That’s why we want to get really excited to have them in our show, and ask some of the questions that we really want to get some answers.

That’s why today we are hosting Alena Capra. Alena, welcome to the show.

Alena Capra

Thank you so much. I’m really happy to be here with you and chatting all things, kitchen and bath industry, talk and remodeling.

Dennis Oz

Great! To kick things off. Could you please tell a little bit of yourself? Let’s give a little bit of background. What sparked your interest in this field and how you have been immersing yourself in this industry.

Alena Capra

Okay. So I have been designing for almost 20 years now, and I actually started out specifically in the kitchen and bath industry. Um, I’m also a certified master kitchen and bath designer with the NKBA.

So I do full interiors now, but my, my first focus in the industry was actually bathroom design, not even kitchen. So I started just solely learning bathroom design, learning everything about it from fixtures to tile, to all of the basic principles of designing a good space. Uh, safely as well as beautifully and I learned from a lot of really great people.

I actually started my career at Expo Design Center and those showrooms were around for quite a long time. Part of the Home Depot company. And I, I learned from great reps. I learned from great designers and. That specifically sparked my interest in that part of the industry, just being around people who also had a passion for it.

Many of whom I still work with in different capacities today and in new, new careers, they went on to new jobs, new positions. And it’s just the enthusiasm of learning from people who also had a like passion for the work generally kind of propelled me to go into that part of the industry first. I have a love for it.

And, also design in general, I’ve always been into art and all sorts of creative things since I was a child. So for me, it was a great fit. And what I love most about the industry in general is that there’s not really a stop to what you can do. There’s so many different avenues where you can take it and it’s ever changing and you can keep that creativity going in many different aspects of the industry. So I love it.

Dennis Oz

You’ve seen this industry for over maybe over 20 years, right? You are here for many, many years. Could you share some of the most noteworthy shifts in the kitchen and bath design trends that you observed over this period.

Alena Capra

So there have been a lot and and since I’ve started in specifically those those 2 areas, it’s interesting.

Um, I’ll start first with tile, right? Um, I do a lot of work with the tile and stone industry. Um, So I’ve been a spokesperson for Coverings for the past nine years. So I’ve seen how the title industry has evolved in terms of products and sizing and innovation. So that part of kitchen and bath design has been a huge change. When I first started out, we were doing a large format was considered a 12 by 12 inch tile or an 18 by 18 inch, right now we have 48 by 48 inch, we have four foot by eight foot or five foot by 10 foot porcelain slabs. So from a tile and stone standpoint, the innovation of that part of the industry and specifically how that’s impacted kitchen and bath design has been amazing.

Um, we have, we have a multitude of options now. It’s not just a couple. It’s a lot. Um, and one thing that’s funny is in terms of that, a trend that I’ve seen when I started designing travertine natural stone travertine, ivory travertine was a huge trend. And it goes, everything goes in and out and it’s cyclical.

And I was just at coverings this past year and low and behold, travertine is back, but the look on porcelain, vein cut, cross cut, all of that. So it’s kind of exciting that I’ve been in the industry long enough to see trends go back around, but fashion is new. And, um, so in terms of the other things, it’s just, plumbing fixtures, seeing finishes that are exciting.

When I started out, brushed nickel was all the rage in 2003 and brushed nickel oil rubbed bronze were like specific finishes people wanted on their faucets. Then we saw this shift took a little movement to chrome and chrome has stayed ever popular. I’m in South Florida. It’s very big here. Um, but then now we’re seeing matte black, brass, brushed gold.

So like the finish kind of story, we have, we have a multitude of finishes now too. So I feel like time has gone on. We have access to not only greater innovation, greater technology, beautiful design, but more options, which is always a good thing when it comes to designing and, and just technology as well in the back.

LED light. LED lighting has sort of, I think, revolutionized everything we could do with the medicine cabinets, with cabinetry accent lighting, even the light fixtures themselves and the ceiling lighting. That has been a huge change in the 20 years I’ve been in the industry. And I love that in kitchens and baths, we need good lighting.

So the more options, the better. And I don’t know, there’s just there is so much we could probably talk about this part of this question for the whole podcast, even, but, um, I love seeing innovation and all of the smart tech and the options to do all of these things with faucets. And I mean, it is incredible in 20 years.

What how far we’ve come and I can’t even wait to see in another 10 what the options are.

Dennis Oz

I remember that, uh, Travertine and all these things and the tiles are changing shapes. Right now, seeing that 48 by 48 tiles, some, some like, really interesting to see that, you know, because it’s like, Yeah. Look at the 12 by 12 and you haven’t, 48 by 48 in front of you, oh my god, it looks so huge. But at the end of the day, it’s just like creating stunning designs, especially if you just, uh, crafted into your design correctly. Exactly. You know, uh, it’s really interesting to hear about those kinds of things from you. Let’s go to the, uh, design part. You made a significant mark in the field as an award winning interior designer. And, uh, I’m sure you have some fundamental principles guide your design process when you are crafting your design, what are your fundamentals when you’re doing that?

Alena Capra

First of all, thank you. And, um, okay. So secondly, the, so I am a certified master kitchen and bath designer for me, first and foremost is always going to be the safety and planning of a space. And not only do I try my best to follow all of those guidelines and when planning a space, proper clearances, proper heights, all of that, that eventually becomes second nature.

But what you add to that when designing every space is your clients needs. That that kind of comes into place. You’ve got client needs plus basic principles of safe kitchen and bath design, and then you merge them together. So merging them together is I think the best part of a designer’s job, because that’s where we have to really listen to our clients.

Give them what they need for their lifestyle. It’s not just about what we think is right, but how to make that work for them. And I love that challenge. That’s why each job is a little bit different. Um, and then to bring the aesthetics in, that’s the whole other part of that, which I love that part too. I actually love both.

They’re, they’re both obviously beauty and function, or, you know, the two parts of design that we need to do for our clients and, you know, creating the design is just exciting, you know, seeing things that, and I like to do. No, 2 designs the same. I think every time there are enough products out there to refashion and come up with something different for every project, every job, every homeowner.

Dennis Oz

Thanks so much for that. When you’re talking about the design projects that are some let’s say challenges, right? Of course, there are some challenges, that could be like related to the client or could be like your space related challenges.

Sometimes the budget, we have a variety of different reasons, but navigating these challenges is a really big part of the design process of course. Could you please share some of your most common hurdles you encounter, because we are really curious to know how to solve them.

Alena Capra

Okay, so that is a great question. All of the design challenges when working on projects and as designers, I mean, I don’t think our job would be complete without having that aspect of it. So when you’re designing visible spaces, it’s not going to be without a challenger roadblock along the way. And I think accepting that is the first part.

So knowing that in any renovation and any remodel, new construction, we are going to have things that come up, right? And they always do. I think the strength as industry professionals and within ourselves and for our clients is how we learn to deal with those things. Um, and the more experience you have in the industry, the more you have seen these things come up, you actually are equipped a little bit better to deal with it.

So, for me, I think, you know, when earlier on in my career, I’ve, I learned a lot about, you know, stuff that could happen in installation and, and as I got more experienced, I became more adept to being able to solve those easier because I have ref a frame of reference from a prior, uh, problem. , we learned.

Dennis Oz

That’s the key though. Yeah. . Yeah.

Alena Capra

We always learn from doing right and I think. You know, the, the interesting part about that is I also have a very close, uh, network and circle of other friends who are in the industry. And we also learn from 1 another. I think talking, hearing other industry professionals talk about whether it be podcasts like this, whether it be panel discussions, whether it be just getting together for coffee with some industry friends and chatting about current projects.

We all can give advice. We’ve all been there at some point or another, whether it’s a plumbing issue, a tile issue. Um, you know, for example, years ago, I learned, you know, so every time you learn from something and then when you know, you realize it can be done, you’re helping someone else by sharing that at some point.

And you’re also helping yourself by learning it. Like I had to move a shower head up for a taller client. In a home that they bought new construction that had slabs of marble in the shower. So I couldn’t destroy the slabs to move the shower head up and we were able to access it from a wall on the exterior of the home, move it up.

And I had to use like another piece of the shower system to kind of fill the area where we had to move and then redrill the new one. A lot of different parts but you learn by doing these things. And they’re stressful in the moment. But once you know how to overcome that hurdle, you have more knowledge to share with others and in your own bank for future issues and challenges and problems,

Dennis Oz

Those problems are, you never know where it’s going to come because like every project is, of course, unique, right? Um, we have unique problems, but we also have that unique charm. That’s why I’m going to ask you next. I’m sure that every projects come with its own problems, but also with his unique charm. I’m sure there must be some, that are particularly rewarding for you. That you feel like really satisfied, especially when you look at before and after. Right. Could you walk us through what makes a design project your dream project? I’m just giving that like an in the quotes dream project. Perhaps you could maybe describe with an example of a project that was exceptionally satisfying for you.

Alena Capra

Sure, no, that’s a great question. So when it comes to interior design and dream projects, I almost like to look at it like, I think you have to approach every project you have as a dream project because the reality of the situation is that is the dream project for your client.

So as designers, we kind of are, we’re, we’re kind of delivering these, these dreams to clients, they have a kitchen, they have a dream bathroom, a dream home in mind. And so every project you take on should be in one way, shape or form a dream project because it is someone’s dream. So, with that, making each project you work on for us in my firm, everything that we do, we want the end result to be beautiful no matter what.

We know that getting from point A through construction to the finish is a lot of stuff. Some projects take longer than others. Some could take, you know, over a year, two years. Some could be over in a matter of months, depending on the scope. I think, you know, like I said, what makes it a dream project is that you are creating a beautiful space for someone.

And there is something very satisfying in that, like, You know, it’s not your own personal home, but when you see that completed space and you see the happiness of, of the people who are going to live in that space. To me, the end of a project, when it’s staged, when we’re photographing it, and I share the photos with my clients and that is, that’s why we do what we do.

That is like our why as designers is like, we do what we do to get to that moment to reveal the big you know, finished product on television you could watch makeovers. Everyone loves a reveal. Clients love a reveal. And it’s all about that beautiful finished product. And even though sometimes we go through a lot to get there, every project should be your dream project.

Cause it is, like I said, for, for your clients.

Dennis Oz

We are always using that dream keyword is it’s really important for especially for, let’s say, if you’re talking about a showroom or like, if you’re talking about a kitchen designer, let’s say people are coming with their dream projects. That’s a great place to start with, because what you’re looking for, they say, we are looking for our dream. And now designers have to understand this dream, what they are dreaming for, like, because the details are the most important thing. And the way that you approach things, exactly, I think it’s a great answer for the people who are kind of trying to get better answers to at least understand the client better and start working with them together from that point from on going forward. Now I would like to talk a little more about like the inventions, like new things in the industry. So our industry is constantly being shaped by the introduction of innovative technologies and also features. Every time that I go to KBIS, I see different things like faucet technologies are just like really cutting edge.

Seriously. I mean, like some faucets are like they’re going to get AI. I’m sure like in the near future, they will be like AI faucets that are going to understand just, when you’re approaching the faucet. Just kidding but yeah. Could you please highlight some of the let’s say most cutting edge advancements in our industry.

Alena Capra

Okay. So there are so many, and I also personally love going to KBIS and seeing what’s new in the industry each and every year. It’s so exciting. It’s an amazing show. And I think you leave there with so much. How do I use this in all my projects? And there’s so many things you want to use. I love it. Um, and that’s what, that’s why we go to trade shows to keep us inspired and informed, and, uh, it’s a big part of our job as designers and industry professionals, um, to stay up to date with what’s new.

I look back. I, so I’ve been designing, like I said, over 20 years, and I think about. In that span, some of the innovations that I have seen, I think smart, I think smart toilets have been like such a huge, big, big, big part. You know, starting out, we always used to have to rough in the separate bidet and the separate toilet.

You needed at least five feet in your bathroom to have both of those things properly. Now, I don’t need five feet. I could put a bidet in a New York City five foot by eight foot bathroom and use that same 32 inch footprint for the toilet and give the client, all of those things. And so it’s given us so much space to work with in smaller spaces and cities that might have smaller bathrooms and older buildings and homes.

And I think that’s amazing. I mean, we are always looking at kitchen and bath centers. We’re always looking for more inches to add. We need to fit more things. You give us almost. Three feet. Uh, so it’s great. Um, and the innovations of what they do, no matter what the brand, there’s so many great things. And I think smart toilets and even just the bidet seats themselves, if you’re not doing the whole thing, amazing.

You have wall hung versions of it. You have, you know, once it mounts to the floor. So that’s like, for me, one of my favorite things that have come out over the years and that keeps on improving and changing. And the aesthetic look is great. I mean, the Kohler Vale Intelligent happens to be one of my favorites.

It’s beautiful. It’s streamlined and my clients love it. So that like you have your particular ones you use a lot. Thinking about other things for me also, we mentioned earlier, a lot of like the led type of stuff, um, in the medicine cabinetry Roburn’s M series reserve has this like gorgeous interior lighting and, you know, uh, you could charge, you could, you know, you have nightlight options and stuff you have, Um, ways that you could dim the lights into different color temperatures, like all of this stuff.

I mean, our bathrooms have truly become sanctuaries. And if you think about the kitchen appliance innovation, I mean, when I started out, or, you know, when I first sold induction, any kind of induction cooktop years ago, that was like, you know, you were convincing people now. Most consumers know about it. So I also think in terms of appliances, there’s been so many great innovations, um, in terms of refrigeration and all of the different, I mean, I love the microwave drawer has been out for many years, but that’s one that like I’ve been using forever that I still love. Um, and just the overall looks and aesthetics and stuff like that.

I, I love just different options. I like that we have different color options. You know, we have beautiful black stainless steel finishes. We have options to panel so many different things. We have a lot of customization options with the handles. I’m a huge fan of customization with appliances and plumbing fixtures.

I love it. Any opportunity you have to insert a different handle, change something out, make it your own clients and homeowners love that. And I think, um, that’s a great, you know, as we see these things continue to just evolve split finishes, mixed finishes, all of that. There’s so much, I mean, there’s just so much.

And that’s why I love this industry. It’s just ever evolving, ever inspiring, and not just beauty, but great function.

Dennis Oz

I feel really excited about the future, seeing those different appliances and also different, let’s say those innovative technologies and, uh, because when you look at the kitchen, especially kitchen, it’s a place where all the family members just meet and spend time together. So having that area, really with a lot of like technology on one side and having the family excites me a lot, especially when I think about upcoming years. That’s really something excites me and also, I’m sure all our listeners are feeling the same feeling, especially.

Before we wrap up we would love to pick your brain on what the future holds for kitchen and bath design by the trend side, not by the technology, but that design trends. Do you have any predictions or see any emerging trends that you believe that will influence the course of the industry in the upcoming years?

Alena Capra

So, gosh, there’s so many different trends I feel like are on the horizon and kitchen and bath, uh, design in general. Uh, first of all, I, from a material standpoint, I think about, um, Okay, we talked about porcelain and the innovation in that porcelain slab being used for not only cladding stuff, but surfaces, countertops, walls and floors.

So that’s an amazing thing. We’re seeing a mix of a lot of that being brought in. I’m also seeing a lot of natural stone being used again, you know, we talked about cycles. We’re still using engineered, we’re still using stuff like porcelain slab and innovative stuff, but I have seen a return to a lot of options for natural stone countertops, specifically in the kitchen, quartzites, um, natural stone, durable natural stones, uh, and there are so many great options with that too.

So I, I see a lot of the full height backsplash type of options that are still going, but it’s interesting because we have these trends, but then we have some that completely juxtapose it where we’re doing some interesting water jet mosaic and, and other things like that. So I just think from a material standpoint, there is so many different ways to mix materials, both, um, natural products and stuff that are engineered.

So there’s like so many great ways to like mix and match and create these beautiful stunning designs. Still, I think a lot of the two tone type of accent colors and cabinetry from an island and you have this beautiful island behind you with the two tone with the wall cabinets that that look. I think we’ll continue.

Um, I’m excited to see what the future holds for finishes. I, we’ve kind of been sitting in this matte black, brushed brass, matte gold and chrome, and even like a brush stainless for the last few years. I’m excited to see what evolves next. Um, because there’s sort of like, they’ve been there and I want to see where this goes.

Um, but I love that we have so many options. Another trend, I mean, we use a lot of, we’ve used stainless steel sinks for a very long time in the kitchen and the last a couple of years, I’ve started using other types of composite sinks that are bringing in color or bringing in a neutral color. So I’ve been kind of having fun with that.

I’m still using farm sinks in certain homes, whether it’s contemporary or a little more transitional. So, I just think, I think the future is very exciting. I look forward to seeing what’s going to be new at this year’s KBIS coming up, um, and, and seeing all the new things because It’s really a lot. Oh, and also green.

I just want to bring in terms of color. The one color we have seen so much of in design green. Yes, I’ve done. I just finished a beautiful kitchen with a gorgeous green quartzite island, like slab of stone. And it was a risk. I remember with the clients, we discussed it. Yeah, we had it. It was a bold color.

And it worked and it looks incredible and everyone who sees it loves it. And I’ve been seeing this rise of green and home decor as an accent in, in just any type of project. So I’m kind of, I’m doing another project now we’re bringing in another shade of green on the bar top and in the bathroom, uh, bathroom countertops.

So I kind of, I’m liking to see the color trends. I think we’re still keeping the whites, the grays, the beiges, the grayish, the blues, but it’s nice to see some more colors. And green being, I think, the biggest one of this last year.

Dennis Oz

Well, great. Alena, thank you so much for coming to the show today. I’m sure your experience will excite a lot of people, especially who is just tuning in and listening. Just wanted to ask you the possible ways to contact you for future. I know you’re really big on LinkedIn. But if they have anything that would like to get some questions, what’s the best way to contact you?

Alena Capra

First of all, thank you so much. This has been a great conversation and I really enjoyed your questions and, and what we got to talk about. So thank you for having me. Great. And secondly, in terms of contacting through my website, alenacapradesigns.com. Or you could also follow me on LinkedIn or Instagram @AlenaCapradesign.

So any of those platforms are good. Um, I am active on all of them. And a lot of the times I’ll post pictures of day to day work projects we’re working on and behind the scenes stuff of, uh, day to day life in design.

Dennis Oz

All right. Thank you so much. Thanks so much for being with us today. I’m sure it’s going to be really inspirational for most of our listeners uh, that is sharing some time and giving that quality time with us here. Thank you so much. Well, folks, that was another episode of Remodeler Success Podcast, and we’re going to see you next time. Goodbye.