When most folks see a weathered Victorian-style window frame, they send it to the woodpile. But designer Gloria Capron of Kensington, Maryland-based Gloria Capron Interior Design envisions a creative way to dress a window, using a frame within a frame. When handed an old iron plant stand, few people would use it to hold ceramic teacups set for a summer luncheon. But Capron would. And should someone happen upon an aged corbel, they might consider it rubbish. To Capron, however, a complementary pair provides dramatic support for a bookshelf in her studio.
For this imaginative and inventive designer, nothing is off limits when it comes to filling the historic 1909 Colonial Revival home she shares with husband Jeff, an accountant. The couple was initially drawn to the property back in 1985 because it reminded them of older homes in Cape May. “We thought it would be fun to have a little bit of Cape May all the time, not just in the summer,” she says. The Caprons met in the early 1970s on the Jersey shore; Jeff was a lifeguard on the beach where Capron and her family were vacationing. Years later, the couple envisioned the Kensington property as “a perfect house to raise our family and for me to have studio space,” says Capron.
After digging out the former root cellar to make room for her burgeoning design business, Capron and her husband expanded the original square footage with an addition to the side and rear, to accommodate their family of five (the couple’s three daughters are now grown and living in New York). Homey porches and clapboard siding complement the home’s original exterior. But it is the interior of Capron’s living space—punctuated with architectural remnants and contemporary conversation starters—that conveys the creative depths of a designer who classifies her eclectic personal taste as a “collected style.”
So what exactly connects pieces like the brass supports, previously used to hold up a footrest in an old bar, that Capron happened upon in a salvage yard in Palm Beach, Florida, and a new contemporary birdcage-inspired round table with a glass top? “It might be a complementary color scheme, or a monochromatic color scheme. It could be the type of materials used or the craftsmanship,” she says. “I might put a very simple piece next to one that’s more heavily designed for the contrast—to get that point, counterpoint.”
Surprisingly, perhaps, many of Capron’s interior projects are done for clients who want spaces that are very contemporary or modern; Capron is known for her timeless design style. “My work is generally characterized as classic and tailored,” she says, “but I try to use architectural remnants when I can and certainly some clients have more than others. There is a sense of tradition that’s stabilizing, that people enjoy. All of these pieces in my home are reference points for my work. There is either something about the craftsmanship or there’s an inspiration in the design that carries over into what I continue to do.”
For clients, a stroll through Capron’s home is very often the catalyst that sparks a plethora of design ideas for their particular project. They are drawn to her style, she says, because “they know they’re going to get something special, something unique,” she says. So whether insight stems from the custom-designed lighting fixture over her dining table or a salvaged piece of oak-leaf molding now decorating a nearby wall, Capron’s collection becomes the inspiration for future projects.
Capron also believes in surrounding herself with family mementos, whether it’s placing a piggy bank her daughter constructed as a child in the living room, or hanging ceramic plates given to her by her grandmother in the kitchen. “These pieces are little bits of family history,” she says. “This home is my memory box.”
And that’s exactly the feeling she strives to convey when working with her clients, regardless of whether the project is contemporary or traditional. “My home reflects me and my family,” she says, “and I try to do that with every client’s project. I try to find something special or unique to them, then I try to help them tell their story.”
Kelli Rosen is a writer based in Monkton, Maryland. Lydia Cutter is a photographer in McLean, Virginia.
Interior Design: Gloria Capron, ASID, Gloria Capron Interior Design, Kensington, Maryland