“I’m extremely proud of the warmth and inclusiveness that defined the White House during the years in which I was involved.”
(CNN) – The Obamas are using their own money to redecorate the White House residence and Oval Office, the White House confirms, forgoing the $100,000 in federal funds that is traditionally allotted to new presidents for such renovation projects.
Architectural Digest noted that “considering the epochal achievements of the Obama administration — the Affordable Care Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, the Recovery Act, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and so much more — it seems trivial to append a footnote that reads, ‘The President and First Lady have a pretty chic dining room, too.’
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Many people didn’t like the dig. Former White House photographer Pete Souza posted a night-time photo of the White House’s elegant facade to his Instagram.
I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen. But Fake News said I called it a dump – TOTALLY UNTRUE
But it remains unclear just how much money the couple plan to spend on redecorations. In January, the Obamas tapped high-profile interior designer Michael Smith to spearhead the project.
The Obamas declined the $100,000 offered to new presidents to redecorate the residence and paid for the work themselves.
He called the Obamas’ bedroom a “private, elegant and calm” sanctuary. “You really want to make sure that the president of the United States gets a good night’s sleep,” he told Architectural Digest.
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“But the fact is, they do. And for anyone who appreciates the power of design, Michelle and Barack Obama’s emendations to the White House speak volumes about the sea change in American culture the two have championed for the past eight years.
“Despite what some say, the White House is definitely not ‘a dump,’” he wrote. “What a shameful thing to say, or even think. It belittles the honorable men and women who make the White House the exemplary historical place it is, opening its doors to thousands of people every day.”
To understand the historical context of the job he was about to undertake, Smith told Architectural Digest that he “read every letter and note from Abigail Adams, Jacqueline Kennedy, Sister Parish, Stephane Boudin, Kaki Hockersmith — anyone who had ever contributed to the history of this building.”
In accepting the position, Smith said affordability would be one of the “guiding principles.”
The decision to forgo federal funds, first reported by New York Magazine, is the president’s latest belt-tightening move amid the sagging economy and widespread outrage over corporate excesses. Late last month, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the administration had put an order on hold for a fleet of new helicopters that will cost at least $11 billion.
“I was always deeply aware of the extraordinary events that had taken place within those walls over the years — events that defined our country — and how every decision by any former president, and the actions of his family, become an essential part of the living history of our nation,” he told People.
Despite what some say, the White House is definitely not “a dump.” What a shameful thing to say, or even think. It belittles the honorable men and women who make the White House the exemplary historical place it is, opening its doors to thousands of people every day.
“I had the great privilege of working in the White House for eight years, and everyone I know who visited was filled with a sense of awe and patriotism from the moment they walked into that storied structure,” Smith told People magazine.
Trump tweeted that the anecdote was “totally untrue” and “fake news,” while SI’s senior golf writer, Alan Shipnuck, stood by his reporting, noting that Trump’s comment was heard by at least eight or nine people.
The first couple – who made well over $2 million in 2008, largely from book revenues – is also turning down money from the White House Historical Association, the organization that financed a $74,000 set of china for the Bushes.
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New presidents have traditionally undertaken extensive redecoration efforts to their personal quarters reflect their own tastes, with a new Oval Office rug tradition ringing in as the priciest item. Former President George W. Bush spent over $60,000 on a new cream carpet designed by Laura Bush in 2000 to replace the deep blue rug that covered the space during the Clinton administration. Obama aides have said the president likes the Bush rug, and does not plan to replace it.
“Each successive president and his family have left their own historic imprint on the White House, just as President Trump and his family will.”
President Trump allegedly used the word to describe 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to some of his golf buddies, Sports Illustrated reported this week.
Los Angeles-based interior designer Michael S. Smith decorated parts of the White House for Barack and Michelle Obama.
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Architectural Digest featured the rarely seen rooms on the second floor of the White House in a cover story for its December 2016 issue, which came out on Election Day, Nov. 8.
He also decorated the Oval Office, the Treaty Room — known as the president’s private study and where President Obama would read briefing materials late at night for the next day — and the Yellow Oval Room, often used for formal private receptions for VIPs.
9 years ago Obamas to use own cash to redecorate White House
Smith decorated the rarely seen private quarters of the first family — including the dining and sitting rooms and master suite — and bedrooms for Malia, Sasha and first mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, according to People.
The current Oval Office rug cost over $60,000 and was designed by former first lady Laura Bush.
The Treaty Room was known as the president’s private study, and was the place where President Obama would read briefing materials late at night for the next day. Pete Souza White House Museum
“Adorned with an unprecedented array of 20th- and 21st-century artworks, their private quarters remain an oasis of civility and, yes, refined taste in a political arena so often bereft of both.”
She once worked for Ralph Lauren Home and, as far as Architectural Digest could make out, the Laotian-American grew up in Stockton, Calif., studied for a couple of years at the Fashion Institute of Technology, has a taste for 18th-century buildings and is influenced by French, English, American and Irish culture.
“The White House itself is part office, part museum, part residence and it’s gloriously emblematic of the best of American style,” he told People. “It is beautifully cared for by a remarkable staff, and its rooms are filled with the treasures of presidents past.
If you have been keeping tabs on our post on US Presidents and their (Oval) offices, you might have noticed us sneaking in an update on Barack Obama’s office. Yes, he has hired the LA based designer Michael S. Smith to dream up a new look for the White House, but not just that, now news is slowly beginning to trickle in that he is in fact going to privately fund the renovation. A Rs.50 lakh ($100,000) makeover is no big deal for the White House (especially taking into account that the past makeovers were several times as expensive) but it is likely that Obama just wants to be a bit careful here and not send the wrong signals.
He called Nancy Reagan and took Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister, to lunch, too.
First Lady Melania Trump hired New York designer Tham Kannalikham to decorate the family’s private quarters in the White House, WWD reported in February.
Michael S. Smith took exception, too. He’s the Los Angeles-based interior designer who decorated the White House for the Obamas.
A post shared by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Aug 1, 2017 at 4:19pm PDT
Little was known in design circles about Kannalikham before Trump hired her.
He said both Obamas were “drawn to elegant, simple things” and was struck by how many books they owned. The former first lady made it a priority to showcase work by artists never before seen in the White House.
He was always aware, he told People, of what made the White House much more than a personal residence.
“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,” he said.