06.10.22

A Conversation with Tabletop Aficionado and Collector of Many Things: Billy Ceglia

With a razor-sharp sense of style, a major talent for proportion and an impressive ability to tie together color stories and a variety of styles with aplomb, designer Billy Ceglia is a beloved designer to those who have had the chance to work with him and those who aspire to.

Photography by Brantley Photography

Whether completing a complete renovation from square one or updating a home to meet a family’s changing needs, his spaces are unique, creative, luxurious, and extremely well-edited. His hard work and impressive resume (a graduate of NYSID, working with Ralph Lauren, opening his firm in 1999) have brought him to where he stands today. As a sought-after designer of ultra-glamorous yet welcoming spaces for real life, he has been featured in Traditional Home, Architectural Digest, Veranda, and Luxe, among other high-profile publications.

Photography by Brantley Photography

We caught up with the self-professed “tabletop aficionado and collector of many things” to discuss his career, what inspires him lately and of course, his signature (super chic) personal style.

Photography by Keith Scott Morton

One of the elements of Billy’s style that makes his work so unique is his wide variety of influences that come together to create designs that are truly personal for each of his projects. “My design influences are so varied – from architects, designers of all types, performers, artists,  personalities and authors –  the common threads are that they are all known for a certain sense of simplicity in their work, and they are generally American – from fashion designers  Bill Blass and Halston,  architects Delano & Aldrich and Philip Johnson, and interior designers like Joe D’urso and Angelo Donghia as well as Albert Hadley. Just the mention of their names brings to mind such a clear, singular idea of their clean, tailored, rigorous views on design.” When seeking design inspiration, he often turns to the “classical simplicity” of designs from the 1930s, 1940s, 1970s and even the early 1980s which he describes as “endless appealing.”

Photography by Keith Scott Morton

While many designers are busy putting together homes that are merely beautiful to look at, Billy makes each design decision with the people who will enjoy the space (as well as with aesthetics) in mind. “My goal with any space is first and foremost to make a space comfortable and useable, I expect every room in the house to be used on a regular basis, living rooms are for living, dining room are perfect to spread out and work on the dreaded Science fair project, etc. – nothing is “for show”. After that, it needs to reflect the tastes and personality of our client.”

Photography by Keith Scott Morton

This ability to marry form and function takes experience to hone, and of course Billy, known for always providing the best possible experience for his clients, would have gone straight to the chic, all American source, Ralph Lauren, to sharpen his skills before opening his own firm in the late nineties. “Working for Ralph Lauren was like attending one of the best finishing schools, with so many lessons learned that I could fill a book. From the soup to nuts consistency of “owning” your brand and providing legendary customer service, to building strong relationships with your customers (I’m still working with my first client on what seems like house number 43, 22 years later). ”

Photography by Rayon Richards Photography

“The biggest takeaway was understanding how to create “romance”, and a mood.  Not everything had to be (or was) “the best”, or expensive, it was about it being “right”, the way a blanket was placed on a chair, a photo leaned against a mirror or massive quantities of national geographic magazines in a bookcase. Oddly it was the simplicity of these details that made everything so appealing.”

Photography by Keith Scott Morton

Details that give a space its unique sense of style and showcase the personality of those who live there are often found in the form of vintage and antique pieces. “I believe it’s the addition of vintage and antique pieces that add the “Soul” to a space, giving it a feeling of timelessness and accessibility – the patina of vintage and antique objects takes the “don’t touch” feeling out of a space, putting inhabitants at ease. Shopping for vintage and antique pieces has become so much easier with technology; gone are the days when one had to trudge through muddy fields or be intimidated by a haughty shopkeeper when looking for the perfect pieces – hop online to The Local Vault, or a simple google search, and the world is your oyster! Not only can anything be easily found, but the internet can also provide education on the how and why of an item, which makes me very happy. As far as using these items, I always try to mind the mix and blend vintage with new items to avoid it looking too museum-like, or like one is living in their grandmother’s groovy Florida apartment.”

Photography by Keith Scott Morton

This lovely idea of using vintage as a means to put people at ease is also at play in the designer’s own spaces. “In my own homes, beyond the obvious of decorating, I always try and create a feeling of ease and comfort when welcoming guests, adopting small details like having the door unlocked and space (and empty hangers) in the coat closet. I have a “help yourself” attitude when it comes to refreshments, or anything in my home for that matter- if you need it, it’s yours for the asking. I admire grace and kindness in style above all, yet personal style does not need to be formal or, heaven forbid, fixed. The best style leaves room for fun and a bit of irreverence!” Naturally, as someone known to be incredibly chic at all times, this also applies to his sense of style. “In all aspects of my life, I use a carefully curated vocabulary to define my style. For example, I wear strictly two styles of shoes- Stubbs and Wootton slippers, or Loro Piana Suede tasseled Loafers, in navy or brown. But, apart from the occasional sneaker, I do not deviate! Similar to my fashion choices, my interiors are filled with simple and practical fabrics, tailored furniture, and timeless details that reflect a classic point of view. In a sense, this leaves room for my personality, which is neither ‘plain’ nor uncomplicated!”

Photography by Rayon Richards Photography

His ability to create spaces that are visually layered and yet not at all cluttered can be attributed to his dedication to rigorous editing. “It’s the tight vocabulary of materials, finishes, and accessories along with classic, comfortable furnishings help achieve that welcoming, luxurious feeling. Using fewer things, in repetition, creates a certain calm in a space that puts an inhabitant at ease.” In fact, given three words to describe his designs, he opts for “classic, collected, considered.”

Photography by Rayon Richards Photography

Click here to shop the designer’s curated collection.

5 Questions with Designer Billy Ceglia

 

TLV: What is your favorite place to travel?

BC: Traveling for pleasure is my ultimate indulgence, and something I don’t do often enough.  I’ll take a beach and sunshine anywhere! I know it’s a cliché, but design inspiration is everywhere, and I’ve found the best ideas and inspiration comes from the least obvious places. The scheme for an entire project can come from a visit to Carvel if you are constantly and consistently looking.

 

 

TLV: Is there anywhere you have not yet been that you are dreaming of visiting?

BC: While I love European travel, I’d really like to start focusing on exploring more of the United States, we have so many spectacular historical sites, that are so often overlooked, it would be a dream to do an around the country tour!

 

 

TLV: What are the must-have items in your carry on?

BC: Kiehl’s lip balm, my iPad, Bose noise cancelling headphones.The lip Balm is the most important item – I could survive lost luggage, but I’d lose my marbles without that little blue tube…

 

TLV: Favorite way to pass the time on a flight?

BC: While I always have the best intentions of catching up on work, I usually take the flight time to catch up on movies or binge watching the latest Netflix series.

 

 

TLV: Most memorable keepsake from or piece purchased on a trip?

BC: Well, I’ll use the term “purchase” lightly…  a small group of friends and I started to collect ashtrays as a shared memory of our travels, and while many hotel gift shops sell them to guests, many do not…. So, we must resort to other means to obtain them….

They wouldn’t put their names on them if they didn’t want you to take them, right?

 

Photos Courtesy of Billy Ceglia / Portrait of the Designer by Rayon Richards Photography / Text by Liana Hayles Newton

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TLV is about sharing, supporting and discovering all that's great about the community we live in. We strive to inspire, enlighten and sometimes entertain. Our team of tastemakers are mothers, wives, sisters and friends, and together we share our musings about love, life and home.
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