Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘Rearranging helps to create new energy through the seasons. It’s important to experience that.’

Billy Knight, Southampton

“When I was a kid, I was constantly rearranging my parents living room and my sister’s bedroom. That’s where I learned to put together a space and make it easier for people to live in comfort and beauty. That’s really my passion, to make things functional and beautiful. Looking great doesn’t always mean comfortable. Art is environmental.

“Before I was a full-time interior designer, I owned a hotel in Puerto Rico and learned so much from that business, not only how to design functional, beautiful spaces, but also how to interact with people. Our hotel was featured in Architectural Digest; I felt really confident about that. It was an exciting moment for me. After 9/11, the tourist market crashed, and I returned back to the States.

A lot of designers go by the book, and that works, but I really like to think outside of that.

“During that transition, I was getting out of a long relationship. My friend Joanne asked me to decorate her house. She really held my hand and stabilized me during a painful period. We had a great time. After that, more connections started to happen, and things fell into place. I began working at Comerford [home furnishings] in Southampton as well as freelancing on my own.

“When I talk to clients, I have to put myself in the family’s shoes and feel out how they would best thrive in their spaces. I want them to like what we come up with. I take into account who I’m working for and what they’re about. I read their energies, and usually I can figure out a direction that’s meaningful. The verbal delivery of art really matters. Constantly communicating with my clients is so important to me.

“I get inspired by going to the markets all the time. I don’t use social media; I like people meeting people face to face. It’s beautiful to feel the fabric and understand how things might feel and breathe with one another.

“A lot of designers go by the book, and that works, but I really like to think outside of that. I sometimes wish people would take more chances. The benefit of not being the same is really powerful. Just like I was as a kid, I am still rearranging my house constantly. With each season, we change our clothes and how we interact with the world. Rearranging our spaces helps to create new energy throughout the year. It’s really important we experience that.”

Interviewed by Maggie Rose Melito