TRENDER: Interior Designer Leslie Banker

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


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Enjoying the good life in Empire Delicious: tastemaker and interior designer Leslie Banker. Photo: Andrea Hansen.

Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, Leslie Banker, interior designer and founder of Empire Delicious, her online decor boutique and style blog.

Age: 42

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Hometown cred: Although born and raised in New York City, Banker visited Jamestown each summer. She moved to Jamestown with her husband full-time six years ago.

What got you into interior design?

It was a mixture of nature and nurture. My mother has been an interior designer in New York City since before I was born, so I grew up thoroughly steeped in decorating. After-school activities with my Mom used to be things like organizing fabric samples and stopping by a stone yard to check out some piece of marble. Of course, I resisted being a decorator because it seemed too easy to fall into it. So, I became a newspaper reporter and then a freelance writer.  What really got me into interior design was in 1998, when my mother asked if I’d work for her for a few months. After ten years of inspiring decorating projects, plus two decorating books we wrote together, I left New York to move to Rhode Island.

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The Empire Delicious look: simple, fresh, and chic accessories.

How does the Empire Delicious blog play a role in your overall work?

The blog helps to flesh out the underlying Empire Delicious idea of effortless entertaining and socializing at home. While the shop has accessories for decorating and entertaining, the blog is filled with ideas for making entertaining at home with friends and family as fun and easy as possible. It features suggestions for cocktail nibbles, easy lunch and dinner parties, and adding color and style to a room.

What are the 3 things worth splurging on when it comes to decor?

A good rug, art that you love, and upholstered furniture with a good frame and delicate proportions.

What are the 3 things you can afford to get at discount and get away with it?

Any old dining table will do, as long as the size is right you can put a tablecloth over it. The same goes for a coffee table, the size and proportion is much more important than how expensive it is. Lighting is important but doesn’t have to be expensive. The placement of lamps and lighting in a room is critical, but the lamps and lights themselves don’t have to be the best.

What defines, for you, Rhode Island style?

Old-school, traditional elements mixed up with the vibrant contemporary artistic community here in RI.

What's the best thing about working here in Rhode Island... the most frustrating thing? 

There are a lot of amazingly talented people here who I love to work with, such as Misi and Dave Narcizo at Lakuna Graphic Design, Dan Wood at DWRI Letterpress, and Catherine Bowen Brophy at Bowen Brophy Communications. Honestly, I haven’t had many frustrations working here—I hope I didn’t just jinx myself!

For more Lifestyle coverage, don't miss GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.


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