Leslie Banker’s Rhode Island Home is Bursting with Color
February 18, 2023
Leslie Banker’s new tome teaches us how to think like a designer—with a little help from her own Rhode Island home.
Text by Tovah Martin Photography by Max Kim-Bee Produced by Robert Keiner
Continuity comes easily to LeslieBanker—she inherited an eye for it. Growing up in homes designed by her mother, Pamela Banker, a designer at Parish-Hadley Associates, certainly afforded her the knack. But the beauty of Banker is her ability to stand back, view the process, and explain what drives her decisions.
For example, she painted the dining room walls in her Rhode Island home a mellow Farrow & Ball Babouche yellow because she says the color emits a certain energy. “In other words,” Banker explains, “I want bubbly, effervescent dinner parties.” Imagine: a wall color that can banish boring table conversation.
That’s just one example of a decorator’s mind at work. In Banker’s world, complementary carpet colors can move you comfortably from room to room. Geometric patterns can make a suite deep within the house feel cohesively connected. Using her own home as the backdrop and with input from other designers, Banker shares her knowledge with the rest of us in her new book, Think Like a Decorator (Rizzoli 2023).
Banker didn’t plan on following in her mother’s footsteps. Trained as a writer, she was recruited by her mother to physically set up an office in 1999. Thrown into the thick of it, Banker found an affinity. In 2006, she and her husband purchased the 1890s-built coastal cottage. (They also own a home in New York City, where Banker’s firm is located.) Its quirkiness was a major draw. “It’s not a perfect house, but that’s part of the charm,” she says.
At about the same time, Banker inherited “seemingly fussy” wood furniture from her grandmother. “The house became a combo of old and new,” she says. “Actually, a room with only new furnishings would never work for me. You always need to add something with soul to give a house character.” Her advice to those lacking family heirlooms: attend an auction. But no matter the source, old must dialogue with new.
In Banker’s home, upholstery, rugs, and pillows continually converse. Colors are courageous and pop from unlikely places, and textures talk to each other. Banker doesn’t restrict dialogues to single rooms, though. She spreads them out. The daring mandarin red on the living room bookshelf repeats on the porch floorboards. And the dining room conversation-starting Babouche is matched in the living room pillows. It’s all meant to make you feel perky and, perhaps above all, perfectly at home.
Interior design: Leslie Banker & Co.
Landscape design: PLACEstudio Landscape Design