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The Obama's Decor

 

 

 

 

By Steve Brawley

President Barack Obama straightens a painting in the Oval Office. Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, May 10, 2010.

In December 2008, the Obama's chose Michael S. Smith as their interior designer of record for the White House. From the very beginning, the Obama's made it clear they were not using taxpayer funds to pay for any decoration changes in their personal family living quarters on the second and third floors of the White House. Obama's to Fit the Bill For White House Decorating.

The Obama's and their two children, along with Michelle's mother Marian Shields Robinson, moved into the White House Jan. 2009. Michelle obviously wants to keep the family quarters private - thus no formal press photos of the rooms to date. Maybe after the Nov. 2012 election (whichever way it goes) she will grant TV tours and photos (much like Laura Bush did in 2008).

Michael Smith with First Lady Michelle Obama at June 2011 fundraiser at Smith's home

in Los Angeles. Source: CocoCozy.com

In fact, the 2011 WHHA's new (50th Anniversary Edition) of the White House Guidebook, with a forward by Michelle Obama, did not include any new photos of the Obama's private quarters.

Of course, there is always the issue of security and political concerns about giving naysayers and critics anything else to complain about in regards to the First Family - even if it is as simple as personal home decor choices - NOT paid by taxpayers! Smith has also kept a low profile, giving out no confidential information or pictures. In 2010, President Obama named Smith to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House.

No major changes (except for normal maintenance shown below) have been made to rooms on the State Floors of the White House during the Obama Administration. The most notable change has been to the "decor" used for White House state functions (shown below), with a much more "staged" look with lighting and "modern" influences such as lucite chairs. In 2011, the Obama's helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the White House Historical Association by Jackie Kennedy with a new edition of the White House Guide, a special event at the White House with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and the acceptance of a $10 million gift.

A painter applies a fresh coat of paint on the Cross Hall of the White House. Source: White House

Photo by Chuck Kennedy, Aug. 17, 2009.

Guests attend the State Dinner honoring President Hu Jintao of China in State Dining Room of the White House. Source: White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy, Jan. 19, 2011.

Red Room decor for the State Dinner honoring President Hu Jintao of China. Source: Reuters, Jan. 19, 2011.

First Lady Michelle Obama waits with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in the Green Room

of the White House before making remarks to the White House Historical Association.

Source: White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson, Oct. 31, 2011.

The White House hosted a reception in 2011 to honor the group's 50th anniversary and the

announcement of a $10 million gift from philanthropist and Carlyle Group co-founder David M. Rubenstein.

Rubenstein’s contribution will be used to establish The David M. Rubenstein National Center

for White House History, an education and research hub to be housed at the WHHA-operated Decatur House.

Press About Michael Smith and the Obamas:

From Jan. 2009 Obama Transition Office:

"Laura Bush has been a wonderful steward of The White House and created a beautiful residence for her family. I look forward to adding our own touch to the East Wing and creating a living space where our family feels comfortable, happy and settled. Michael shares my vision for creating a family friendly feel to our new home and incorporating some new perspectives from some of America's greatest artists and designers," said Michelle Obama.

"I am delighted to work with the Obamas as they bring their own energy and style to the residence at The White House," said decorator Michael Smith. "The family's casual style, their interest in bringing 20th Century American artists to the forefront and utilizing affordable brands and products will serve as our guiding principles as we make the residence feel like their home."

From Nov. 12, 2009 Washington Post:

"I have so many high-profile clients. It breaks the trust issue to discuss them. . . . Working at the White House has been an extraordinary experience, an honor. The Obamas are so thoughtful, engaged and intellectually interested in so many diverse things.

The moments are amazing, such as when you are looking at all the storerooms that hold White House things, and on Inauguration Day seeing thousands of people out the windows. It's pretty profound, and I'm having a great time.

Ken Blasingame [George and Laura Bush's decorator] did a beautiful job and left the house in extraordinary shape. It made our transition extremely easy." - Michael Smith.

From January 2012 Chicago Magazine:

"I can’t even name a journalist who has ever been up there under the Obama watch…. Different presidents have used the private quarters in very different ways. The Clinton's did have more work events up there, and the Bushes, interestingly, were very open with the private quarters. Laura Bush even let documentary filmmakers film there. The Obama attitude with the private quarters is, “This is Sasha’s and Malia’s home.” The night that health care reform passed, the president threw a party there…. [The First Lady and girls were out of town.] I always thought it was telling that the one night the president spontaneously threw a party in the residence, he did it when his family wasn’t home." - Jodi Kantor

Other Press Accounts:

We have seen no formal pictures of the rooms in the private quarters on the second floor residence of the White House. Pinkpillbox.com has kept track of the press stories that have given us some glimpses into the work done by Smith for the Obamas. It appears no major overhauls have occurred, with some rooms hardly touched (West Sitting Hall) and others updated with paint and fabric adjustments (Center Hall, Treaty Room, and Yellow Oval Room). Here is what PPB has learned over the past three years from various press.

The Obamas chose an 1820's tall-post tiger maple wood bed for their White House bedroom. The bed

was from a selection of antiques that White House designer Smith requested from Leonards, based in

Massachusetts. The bed was re-sized to a king for the Obamas. The bed is reported to cost $12,500.

Source: Apartment Therapy and Remodlista.

The Obama's chose Ed Ruscha’s ‘I Think I’ll...’ from the National Gallery to hang in the

Center Hall. Source: Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2009.

The Obama's selected Richard Diebenkorn’s abstract ‘Berkeley No. 52.’ for the

Yellow Oval Room. Source: Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2009.

More on the Obama's White House Artwork:

Changing Art on the White House Walls From May 22, 2009 Wall Street Journal

The Obama's Taste In Art From December 24, 2009 New Republic

Scottish Fabric Chosen for Obama's White House Bedroom

Recycled Chandeliers from Magpie Chosen for Shasha and Malia's Bedrooms.

Lamps by Christopher Spitzmiller

Patricia in Blue (Oval Office)

Lamps by Sid Luck / SCDS, Ltd

Glazed cylinders in double-dip glaze oil-rubbed cap and lamping (Family Sitting Room) Center Hall?

Glazed cylinders in metallic moss glaze oil-rubbed cap and lamping (Treaty Room)

Glazed cylinders in flowing moss glaze oil-rubbed cap and lamping (West Sitting Hall)

 

Elizabeth Dow Wallpaper Chosen for Sasha and Malia's Bedrooms

Sasha and Malia's Bedrooms to Feature Pottery Barn and Anthropologie

Obama Changes to White House Decor:

From what we can see from various photo sources, here is a rundown of some of the decor choices by the Obamas:

The Center Hall: Most dramatic changes we can see. A grey color on walls, new rugs, more comfy furniture. Very modern artwork. Piano still in place. Laura's animal print is gone.

The West Sitting Hall: It seems as if these room has had few changes, with the same furniture as the Bush's. New lamps (by Spitzmiller or Sid Luck) and family portraits are evident. Not sure if the wall coverings are new or not, they are very similar to the Bush's.

The Yellow Oval Room: White House event pictures show changes to paint, curtains, artwork and couches. It appears as if three of Jackie Kennedy's Yellow Oval Room chairs (two bergeres and one desk chair) have been reupholstered and placed back in the room by Smith and the Obamas.

According to James Archer Abbott (co-author of Designing Camelot) the two Louis XVI bergeres chairs were found through Mrs. Wrightsman and Jansen, and the upholstery - orange moire - was selected by Sister Parish. Nancy Reagan would also use these chairs in her private office (with a floral fabric). It appears as if the Obama's have chosen a "brownish" color fabric for these chairs.

Jackie's Louis XVI bergere chair (1962 orange moire fabric).

Source: JFK Library

Michael Smith's version of the XVI bergere chair - Jasper Furniture Collection

Abbott says that, "As for the desk chair (below), it is signed by the Royale ebeniste family Jacob, and it was also found through Jayne Wrightsman and, presumably, Maison Jansen.
"

Jackie's Jacob desk chair

Source: JFK Library

The Obama's curtains and a couch seem to be a pale blue. Colorful modern art adorns the walls. It seems as if Ted Graber's ugly Baker coffee tables from the Reagan era are finally gone!

Jackie's Yellow Oval Room (chairs highlighted being used by Obamas).

 

-The Treaty Room: Redecoration documented by White House, mainly through White House Official pictures by Pete Souza (see several photos below). New wall coverings and artwork featured.

-The Oval Office: Redecoration heavily documented in the press.

Anyone with other information, let PPB know.

 

 

The Obama's White House Decor:

Second Floor of White House. Source: whitehousemuseum.org. Created by Peter Sharkey.

It is assumed the Obama's use the Master Bedroom and Sasha and Malia use the West and East Bedrooms (show above).

Third Floor of White House. Source: whitehousemuseum.org. Created by Peter Sharkey.

First Lady Michelle Obama's mother - Marian Shields Robinson occupies a bedroom suite on the third floor.

Speculation is that it may be the bedroom suite shaded in orange (shown above) facing the North side of the building.

Obama's Center Hall (Residence)

New wall color (greyish)

Different furniture (new or from White House collection?) - couches, chairs, coffee table

Partners desk and piano remain

New artwork

New rugs

Lamps by Christopher Spitzmiller

Lamps by Sid Luck/SCDS Ltd.

 

Obama White House, Second Floor, Center Hall: Source: Billed Bladet #24, June 2011.

Obama White House, Second Floor, Center Hall: Source: Billed Bladet #24, June 2011.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark Tea with Michelle Obama, June 8, 2011.

Obama White House, Second Floor, Center Hall: Source: Billed Bladet #24, June 2011.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark Tea with Michelle Obama, June 8, 2011.

Obama's West Sitting Hall (Residence)

Little change from Bush decor. Most furniture not replaced.

Different rug and wall coverings? Image from June 2011, so if transitional decor, kinda late into the process?

Lamps by Sid Luck/SCDS, Ltd.

Obama White House, Second Floor, West Sitting Hall: Source: Billed Bladet #24, June 2011.

Obama's Yellow Oval Room (Residence)

New curtains (pale blue)

New sofas (pale blue)

New artwork

New coffee table

Jackie Kennedy's reupholstered chairs

Obama White House, Second Floor, Yellow Oval Room: Source: White House. Prior to chair fabric change.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark Tea with Michelle Obama, June 8, 2011.

Obama White House, Second Floor, Yellow Oval Room. Note change to chair fabric from previous picture.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a tea for Mrs. Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, in the

Yellow Oval Room of the White House, Sept. 27, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Obama White House, Second Floor, Yellow Oval Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, Jan. 19, 2011.

You can see Jackie's Kennedy bergere chairs between President Obama and Rosalynn Carter. There is also a good glimpse

of the new pale blue curtains and sofa (behind the President).

Obama White House, Second Floor, Yellow Oval Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, Jan. 19, 2011.

From here you can see Jackie Kennedy's Jacob desk chair (immediate left of lady in black dress).

Obama White House, Second Floor, Yellow Oval Room: Source: White House Photo. New blue sofas noted.

Obama White House, Second Floor, Yellow Oval Room. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with

President François Hollande of France in the Yellow Oval Room of the

White House prior to the State Dinner, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama White House, Second Floor, Yellow Oval Room. President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France

in the Yellow Oval Room of the White House prior to the State Dinner, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama's Treaty Room (Residence)

Wallpaper by Elizabeth Dow (Birch Bark Design Also used in White House Solariuim)

Desk (Grant Cabinet Table from White House Collection)

Lamps by Sid Luck/SCDS Ltd.

Ottoman by Michael Smith (Jasper Furniture Line - Parkman)

Painting by Susan Rothenberg, Butterfly 1976

Curtains reused from G.W. Bush

Furniture (new or from White House collection?)

Obama White House, Second Floor, Treaty Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, March 16, 2011.

Obama White House, Second Floor, Treaty Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, July 17, 2011.

Obama White House, Second floor, Treaty Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, Sept. 4, 2012.

Obama White House, Second Floor, Treaty Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, Nov. 23, 2010.

No information known about painting over desk.

Obama White House, Second Floor, Treaty Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, March 21, 2010.

Obama White House, Second Floor, Treaty Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, Oct 1, 2010.

Michelle Obama's Office (East Wing)

New paint (Salmon)

New artwork

Different furniture (new or from White House collection?)

Chair by Hickory Chair (Spool Chair Model)

Lamps by Christopher Spitzmiller (?)

Obama White House, East Wing, First Lady's Office: Source: White House Photo by Sonya Hebert 2013.

Obama White House, East Wing, First Lady's Office: Source: White House Photo 2010.

Obama White House, East Wing, First Lady's Office: Source: Washington Post/Marvin Joseph Photo 2010.

Chair by Hickory Chair (Spool Chair Model). Source: Hickory Chair

Obama White House, East Wing, First Lady's Office: Source: White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy, Nov. 29, 2010.

President Obama's Oval Office Dining Room (West Wing)

Wallpaper by Caba (Barkskin)

New curtains

New carpeting

New upholstery on chairs

Very frequent changes in artwork

Obama White House, West Wing, Oval Office Dining Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, March 12, 2012.

Obama White House, West Wing, Oval Office Dining Room: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, Feb. 11, 2011

Carpeting similar design to that in Cabinet Room (chosen by Laura Bush).

President Obama's Oval Office (West Wing)

Obama White House, West Wing, Oval Office, August 2010 Redecoration by Michael Smith.

The Oval Office makeover was not done at taxpayer expense; the White House said the costs were covered by the White

House Historical Association, a non-profit group, through a contribution from the committee that paid for President Obama’s

inauguration. The White House has not said how much the total redesign cost, except to say that it was ‘’in line with’’ what

President Obama’s two most recent predecessors spent.

Obama White, West Wing, Oval Office: Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza.

Apples are an Obama standard on the new Roman Thomas coffee table.

President Barack Obama looks at the Edward Hopper paintings now displayed in the

Oval Office, Feb. 7, 2014. The paints are Cobb's Barns, South Truro, top, and Burly

Cobb’s House, South Truro. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Inventory of Obama's Oval Office Decor:

Side Chair Fabric by Scalamandre (Reused from G.W. Bush)

Paint by Benjamin Moore (Custom Mixed by Donald Kaufman Color)

Carpeting by Scott Group (Custom Design)

Desk Chair by Smith and Watson (Georgian)

Wallpaper by Elizabeth Dow (Buff Stripe)

Coffee Table by Roman Thomas (Mica and Walnut)

Lamps by Christopher Spitzmiller (Patricia in Blue)

Sofas by (unidentified New York manufacturer)

Curtains by (unidentified manufacturer)

Bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on display in the Obama Oval Office.

Framed program from 1963 March On Washington on display in the Obama Oval Office.

Long time favorites of previous presidents remain in Obama's Oval Office, including the familiar Frederic

Remington sculpture “The Bronco Buster,” alongside Norman Rockwell’s “Statue of Liberty.”

Gone are the "china plates" from previous administrations. President Obama chose

models of famous "patents" and Native American pottery for the bookcases.

For a period of time in 2010, President Obama displayed an original copy of Lincoln's

Emancipaton Proclamation in the Oval Office. Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, Jan. 18, 2010.

West Wing Hallways

President Barack Obama, Ruby Bridges, and representatives of the Norman Rockwell Museum view Rockwell’s

"The Problem We All Live With," hanging in a West Wing hallway near the Oval Office. Bridges is the girl portrayed in

the painting. Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, July 15, 2011.

Following a late night meeting on the budget, the President pulled aside House Speaker John Boehner for a private talk in

the Oval Office. This was an unusual angle shot from the private dining room looking back through the hallway with the Oval in

the background. Personal artwork and momentos adorn the walls. To the right, is the President's private office.

Source: White House Photo by Pete Souza, April 6, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
Steve Brawley (314) 740-0298