COTE DE TEXAS: Happy Holidays To All - 2014!

Happy Holidays To All - 2014!

I missed last year’s White House Christmas, so I thought I’d take a peek at this year’s.
The truth is – the Obama White House decorations haven’t really been all that fabulous – in my opinion.  Maybe the beauty just doesn’t translate to the photographs?    But to me, the decorations have seemed too colorful and too chaotic without any well thought out design theme. 
Perhaps being Jewish and always looking longingly through the window at Christmas decorations, makes me want the perfect Winter White display of twinkle lights and evergreen.  And so, perhaps that’s why, to me, the ultimate of all the White House Christmases has been Laura Bush’s 2004 – a display of white snowy trees in a true winter wonderland.

2004 – Laura Bush’s White Christmas

The trees were decorated with snow in the limbs and the skirts were a mass of snowy white; add to that the white twinkle lights and silver tinsel and you have the perfect White Christmas.   All eight of Laura Bush’s White House Christmases were very well designed and thought out and each year I wait for a repeat of this great design from the Obamas.   Maybe next year…?
Here is the 2014 White House Christmas Decorations with an extra surprise look at the Vice President’s House!

The main White House tree that will go up in the oval Blue  Room arrives with great fanfare.  The Obama family dog, Bo, comes to greet it, along with Sunny, the newest addition to the family.  Such great memories for Sascha and Malia. 


The beautiful fanlight – over the door at the main entrance where this year the trees are all white and silver.  The theme is geared to children and is titled:  A Children’s Winter Wonderland.  Maybe the design will be a winter wonderland after all!?! 
It’s Christmas as seen through a child’s eye.

The Cross Hall at the Grand Foyer – the main door to the oval Blue Room gives you a glimpse of the main tree.  Two others flank the doorway.
The big surprise is that this year the trees DO look snowy and twinkly!   It’s not as dramatic as Laura Bushes’ 2004, but it’s really pretty and so wintery looking and such a surprise.

The Foyer – with its gorgeous crystal chandelier.  Notice President George Bush’s portrait hanging behind the piano. 

It’s a winter wonderland, in the foyer at least.

The Obamas – walking down the Cross hall.

Close up of the Blue Room tree.

The Blue Room tree – decorated with touches of blue – of course.  And….this is the end of the winter wonderland look.  I understand that there have to be blue ornaments – but I would have made it more blue and white.

The Green Room – the two windows always have small trees in Versailles style boxes.

Here is the new portrait of Laura Bush.  She posed in the Green Room since she spearheaded its most recent decoration.   Painted by John Howard Sanden.

Here is the beautiful green room as Laura Bush envisioned it.  The Green Room really is pretty – the chandelier is especially gorgeous and I love the rich color of the fabric on the chairs.

The Red Room – like the Green Room - with the two trees in the two windows.  This room is due for a redecoration.  The yellow/gold fabric is so harsh.

The East Room – there aren’t many pictures of this room this year.

The State Dining Room – is the room where the Children’s Christmas theme is most obvious.   On the mantel, Scrabble pieces spell out “Winter Wonderland.”

Close up of the trains underneath the trees!   Not sure if they are actually working but that would be such a cute idea to set up a Christmas Village with a train running through it.  Next year, they could leave the main dining room table in the room – and set up a miniature Christmas village and train track.

The windows hold cute suitcases – I suppose they are meant to appeal to the teenaged girls.  This room is also due for a redecoration, but I do like the way it looks with its floral curtains and matching rug.  It was last decorated by the Clintons.

Vintage luggage pieces decorated with antique Washington, D.C. travel decals and dusted with glitter.  I don’t understand what this has to do with Christmas though?

  Not sure what is going on with the rug in the State Dining Room?  This rug shown above has been seen in recent photographs, but for Christmas – the regular rug is back in place.   Perhaps they were trying this rug out – but it seems too large to be a loaner.   And it is nowhere near as pretty as the usual rug – although it is attractive.

Both Sunny and Bo have cookies this year.  Bo is black and white, while Sunny’s coat is all black.

In this entrance – a mailbox is placed for visitors to send greetings to service members overseas. The tree is dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers, and its ornaments are signed by members of Gold Star Families.

The East Colonnade.

The arch is made from hydrangeas – believe it or not.

The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden is outside of the East Colonnade.  Look at the giant present in the garden.

The giant present is made of reflective material – giving it a mirrored effect.  I love this!!!

Back in the entrance,  faux Bo and Sunny greet visitors on a toy train.  It took more than a mile of black ribbon to create the dogs this year.

Underneath the Cross Hall, the décor is a Winter Wonderland.

Obama checks out the décor.

The Vermeil Room is the most intriguing of all this year.

Decorated by Alex Bittner – the trees are actually dresses!!!  LOVE!!!!

Designer Alex Bittner created the jewelry.

The Library.  A sidenote:  Recently on his fabulous documentary on music, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, showed a video of him visiting this White House Library and finding a book on Bob Dylan’s lyrics.  Wow!  The Times They Are A Changing.   For Sure!
Be sure to watch Grohl’s multi part documentary, “Sonic Highways” on HBO.  An extensive look at the history of American music!!!  If you like music, you will LOVE this show!!!

Look at this collection of globes turned into holiday greetings – perfect for library decorations.

The red China Room – one of my favorite basement rooms – if only for the velvet roundabout, decorated with pillow greetings this season.

The China Room is well known for the most gorgeous First Lady portrait of them all - Grace Coolidge with her beautiful dog, Rob Roy. 

I mean – compared to this First Lady – Andrew Johnson’s wife Eliza – Grace Coolidge is a Miss Universe!! 
I wish we could see the private quarters, if only to see what Michael S. Smith created for the Obamas.  There are only a very few pictures of the private rooms – apparently the Obamas don’t want the public to see their rooms.  Oh well…..

On the HGTV web site I found photographs of the Vice President’s house decorated for Christmas.  I’ve always been interested in this house and thought it would make a nice ending to this year’s White House Christmas story.

The Vice President’s house is located on the grounds of the Naval Observatory at 34th and Massachusetts Ave NW.   The grounds are 72 acres, 13 of which are designated for the Vice President’s house.   Here, the brick house was still red – today it is painted white.  Notice how green and dense the forest once was behind the house.

The 9,150 sq. ft. house is a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1893 for the Naval Superintendent.  Once the Naval Chief saw the impressive house, he laid claim to it and kicked the superintendent out.

In 1974 Congress designated the house as the official residence of the Vice President.  Then Vice President Nelson Rockefeller chose not to live there, but donated some furniture to the house.  Walter Mondale was the first to move into the house, followed by Bush, Quayle, Gore, Cheney and now Biden.  The Vice Families get no decorating allowance but private donations usually pay for it.

The rambling
house has 33 rooms.  Many of thee rooms are probably small and located on the third floor.
Each VP family has added their own stamp on the house:
Bush’s VP Dan Quayle added the swimming pool and made the house wheelchair accessible.  The Gores had 3 children and 3 dogs living at home and made many changes to the house.    The talented Albert Hadley designed their interiors in soothing yellows and warm reds.  They brought their own antiques but also borrowed some from the State Department.   Outside, the Gores planted hedges around the house to provide privacy for their children.
The Cheneys hired my favorite Georgetown designer Frank Babb Randolph to decorate the house – and his design is by far the most sophisticated, matched only by the Gore’s Hadley décor.   

Here the house is lit and tented for the Bidens’ Christmas party.

And here is the gated entrance to the house – overlooking the back side.

The front porch – with the Quayles and the George Bushes.  Look how young George H.W. looks!!!  So does Barbara.

Later, Al Gore on Halloween on the front porch.  He lived in the house for two terms under Bill Clinton.

And today – the front porch under the Bidens.  Their German Shepherd is named Champ – which is so strange because my first dog was a German Shepherd also named Champ!!!

The winding porch which curves along with the turret.   Off the porch is a trellis pergola that leads to the swimming pool.  This picture is from House Beautiful that featured the house during the Gores inhabitance.

The back of the house – shows the trellis walkway off the porch – and the turret.  The Bidens love to entertain around the swimming pool.

The pool house.

The floor plan shows the large reception hall with its front alcove where the Christmas tree is displayed.  The dining room is also very large.  The living room and sitting room are somewhat smaller – and three rooms share a corner fireplace.

The Bidens
These decorations are not from this year – the year is not designated.  But I’m sure they are probably similar each year.  The large reception room with its white painted staircase has been wallpapered in yellow stripes since the Gore’s time.  The Bidens use a red and blue rug.   The Cheney’s rug was yellow – and the Biden’s use that rug in the living room. 

The stairs – Champ is laying here – and on the left is a Christmas Champ – though it looks nothing like the real thing. 

A view of the wrap around stairs.

The large reception room – looking towards the front door on the left and the alcove on the right.  Here – there is one tree in the alcove.  Notice the wreaths on the arch.

I love the large foyer – makes such a nice space to entertain in.

A few days ago, Dr. Biden tweeted this picture of the alcove in the foyer – with FIVE trees!!  This year – instead of wreaths, there are gold stars on the arch. 

In the corner of the reception room – stockings hang on the mantel.

The living room is a study in yellow and cream with touches of blue.  The furniture looks like much of the same that was used during the Cheneys and even the Gores time.  But – all has been reupholstered.  In the turret – the Bidens have placed the piano.  The Cheneys put the piano in the foyer.    The large rug is from the Cheneys – it was in the foyer before.  The lamp and console in the window are also the same as the Cheneys.  The blue and white striped curtains are new.  I think that they are tied back because of the decorations and they look better hanging loose.

The piano in the turret.  The Bidens like to collect art glass.  Throughout the house there are examples of thisglass – as seen here, mostly in blues and greens.

Here are the curtains loose – in the turret.  They do look much better like this.

Here you can see more of the furniture – love the two damask yellow chairs and the blue and white chair which goes with the curtains.  Very pretty.  How disappointing is it to get to meet the President and VP and go to the VP’s house instead of the White House???!

The Christmas pictured here – the tree went in the turret instead of the alcove.  It does look pretty there.

The dining room – with the chairs custom made for the Quayles.  The table was brought here on loan from the State Department by the Cheneys.   The sideboard was also brought in here by the Cheneys.  Red wreaths go with the blue walls and rug.

Close up of the painting.     Love the paneled doors that are original to the house.

Here is how the dining room normally looks.  It is really nice – with the white curtains and blue trim.    More art glass on the table.

A view of the dining room looking out to the front lawn. 

The sunroom opens to the veranda.  Here it is decorated for Christmas with a large tree.

Normally – the sunroom looks like this.  Some of this furniture was from the Cheneys family room.  More blue art glass is seen here.  Through the window you can see the trellis walkway to the pool.

The family room is green stripes with a tufted brown leather Chesterfield.  The chairs have been recovered over and over again with each new VP.  This room is cozy and is very attractive. 

The portrait of Kennedy is by Jamie Wyeth.  Wow!!  The art work is just incredible.
Visitors to the Bidens are often posed in front of the fireplace for their official photograph.

Oh no!!   In this photograph taken this year – the Wyeth is now gone, replaced by a convex Federal style mirror.  Not sure why the Kennedy portrait was moved – it had been here since the Cheneys term.

In honor of Dr. Biden – a Christmas tree made of books!  I would love to know what that painting is.

For this lunch meeting – the meal was taken in the small family room.  Why?  The house has much larger rooms.  Oh, those poor curtains.

The Cheneys

The Cheneys decorated the house using Frank Babb Randolph – the fabulous Georgetown designer.  Here, you can see the yellow striped wallpaper and the creamy yellow rug in the foyer.  Read my stories on Randolph HERE and HERE.

And here the former VP shows the new VP his house.  In this picture – you can see the grand piano in the alcove.   The Cheneys used the turret as a sitting area.

The living room is simply gorgeous as decorated by Randolph.  The Helen Frankenthaler is stunning.   Mrs. Cheney borrowed it from the Smithsonian and it simply “makes” the room.  Just gorgeous.   Mrs. Cheney says:   “One of the great pleasures of living in the vice president’s house is being able to borrow art to display in it. My first phone call was to Helen Frankenthaler, whom I know through mutual friends.  The artist’s work Lush Spring has become the centerpiece of the living room.”   Instead of area rugs, it looks like they used a flat carpet, uniting both rooms into one.  The curtains are billowing striped silk – 2 widths.  Curtains should be made correctly and expertly – or don’t bother.  Poorly constructed curtains are worse than none. 

Another wider view of the room.  Here a French chair is added next to the console.

The day the Bidens moved into the house, this picture was taken.  You can see they still had the Cheney décor, including the wall to wall carpet, which was removed and the hardwoods exposed. 

The dining room – the table was borrowed from the State Department, the chairs were made for the Quayles.  The sideboard was also brought in by Randolph.  New beautiful chandelier and rug.  Above the sideboard is another important piece of art.  I like this so much more than the Biden’s blue and red dining room.  So much more elegant – while the Bidens is more casual.  And again, the silk curtains become the focal point.  Wish I had better pictures!!

In the family room, it’s all ivory and white.  Notice the fireplace tile surround.  White curtains, and white damask wallpaper.

And, here when they moved out – the Cheneys left brown chairs that weren’t seen in the above photograph of this room.  The wallpaper is so pretty.

A very rare view of the private quarters – in the upstairs turret on the day Cheney was first shown the house before he moved in.   Décor left over from the Gores.

And, another upstairs private quarters room in greens and ivories, left over from the Gores.
The Gores:
The Gores lived here 8 years and they hired Albert Hadley to decorate.  These lovely pictures were published in House Beautiful and they show a very upper class English design with the living room in yellows and red accents.   The sofa and chairs look like the same used by the Cheneys and later the Bidens.  Also, I think this is the chandelier now used in the dining room.
Another view showing red accents on the chair – and a view into the turret with its blinds and yellow curtains.  I remember when this article came out in the magazine and thinking this was so beautiful!  It still is – very classic, very traditional.

This must be from the reception room – with its yellow striped wallpaper.  The painting – is that the VP’s house?
The family room – notice the fireplace tile!  I wonder if this is original.  What a shame that the Cheneys had it removed!!!   I love the Rose Medallion garden seat.  Again, just beautiful.
The dining room is so pretty in reds and yellows, again very English country manor house décor that Hadley was so good at.  The chandelier?  It’s gorgeous – was it the Gore’s own antique?  The curtains are exquisitely crafted.

The Bushes
Here the staircase is shown before it was painted.  Not sure who painted it all white, but I do like the brown stained railings.  They would look good in black too.  The fireplace looks like it might have the original tiles in black.

Nothing to talk about – very 80s and although decorated, it doesn’t look like it was designd by someone who had a sophisticated aesthetic.

The Mondales

The Carters stopped by for Christmas.  Oy!!!  Those clothes!   Mrs. Carter was never known as a fashion plate. 
The Mondales used the table that Nelson Rockefeller donated to the house – it was his father’s John D. Rockefeller’s table and was once in his NYC apartment.  The décor is so bland –everything seems so plain and even cheap looking – from the brass chandelier to the curtains to the mirror.  The Christmas décor even seems insignificant, compared to today.
A view towards the other direction.  This sideboard was replaced by the Cheneys.  I love Mrs. Mondale’s hair – was it in curlers???   Ha-ha!!  Oh, how times have changed – so much – and we don’t even seem to realize it.
Mondale always cooked the Thanksgiving turkey.  A rare glimpse into the kitchen.  I wonder what it looks like today??
The Rockefellers
They were the first family eligible to live in the Observatory, but the Rockefellers opted to live in their own house.  He did furnish the house.  Here they hosted  President Ford to dinner at his father, John D. Rockefeller’s table.
And finally,


Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday, Merry Christmas, and a healthy New Years!!!!!

From Ben, Elisabeth and me!


  1. I agree about this year's decorations very disappointing. I loved the tour of the VP mansion, the evolution very interesting!! Happy Holidays Joni!!

  2. Well, although I see your point about no single design theme throughout the Obama White House; my opinion differs. It is grand and festive and some rooms are very creative.

  3. Thanks for the, as always, well done post. I especially enjoyed photos of the Vice-President's home. Small matter, perhaps, but I prefer titles of office used when referring to the President and Vice-President. For instance, "Obama checks out the décor." seemed a bit too casual. I suppose that comes from my father who frequently emphasized we "respect the Office, regardless of our opinion of its occupant."

    1. I totally agree regarding the titles of office..he is President Obama.

    2. Yes, like him or not he is our president.

    3. I love the man. I just was not paying attention to that. I should have. Sorry. My bad.

    4. Susan, Obama doesn't represent everyone. You seem to forget how often George W. Bush was referred to as "Bush", including an off color joke made by Whoopie Pie Goldberg which included his name.

      That said, Joni got one thing right here. The Obama White House is both colorful and chaotic.

      Joni, I always enjoy seeing the Christmas display at the WH. This one, however, makes me dizzy.

  4. I great post to close the year? Beautiful and thorough as usual. Thanks for sharing. Happy Holidays to you as well.

  5. The JFK portrait is on loan to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for a special exhibit on Jamie Wyeth - so don't worry, it's not shoved in a closet somewhere :)

    1. i figured they had to return it. though i do wonder if they will get it back????? I should have googled it, but I was just exhausted from tihis one!

  6. My neighbor went to one of the WH Christmas parties this year and took pics of the tree dresses. I love them too! Thanks for the interiors tour of the NO. I spent most of my early career walking past it to and from work. What a treat to see the inside. Happy holidays!

  7. What a joy to see the succession of Vice Presidential choices in interior design, and how they made the home their own. Borrowing art from the National Gallery: what an opportunity!
    Frankly, the White House looks like a shopping mall, a mish-mash secular "holiday." The glitter suitcases would be great for a tween's birthday party. Maybe all the ideas came from a bad Pinterest board? Linda Klinger,

  8. ...thank you joni...blessings...everyday...laney

  9. Joni, the art Frankenthaler, the portraits, by Jamie Wyeth, John Howard, the tree of books. Of course the magic of the holidays is how everyone decorates in such a personal way. I always love the white theme with lots of twinkling white fairy lights! The White HOuse is the perfect place to display a winter wonderland!

    Tis the Sunday before Christmas

  10. Maravilloso recorrido de fin de año,Gracias Feliz Navidad.

  11. Fantastic Post! Thank you for sharingl the wonderful history of Christmas in these two homes.
    I have been so disappointed these past years because I haven't seen the White House special that HGTV showed each year during the Bush years. I loved those shows! Do you know why HGTV stopped with the Obama's ?Thank you
    Patty Day

    1. HGTV still shows the White House Holiday Decor Special each year. This year it was on Dec 14 at 7PM CST. and was repeated in early morning hours as they do each evening show--so if you miss it during prime time it is repeated a few hours later. I haven't checked to see if it is on again since I recorded it. But try going to HGTV site and see if you could find answer...

    2. Thank you Sandy A. I will research HGTV and see if I can find a reshowing.

  12. You know I always read your posts, but don't often comment because you have many many comments already going on.
    However, you have simply outdone yourself with this retrospective on Christmas at the White House and The VP's House. Really brilliant, and like going back in time to remember the good things.
    I, also, wonder what happened with the wonderful portrait of John F. Kennedy. I do hope it's being used somewhere important as replacing it with that horrible mirror just doesn't seem like great design. Happy Holidays, my friend. Best wishes to you and your family (and maybe this coming year I can actually meet you! Wouldn't that be wonderful !!).

    1. Marsha - someone left a comment above that the Wyeth is on loan for a show. You can leave a comment! Always!!!!!! The more the merrier. Happy Happy!!!

  13. Thanks, Joni, for another great post! The Obama White House Christmas decorations are so disappointing. The giant present in the garden was very attractive and a nice touch. Oh well. But it was a treat to see inside the Vice-President's home. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  14. Ah...the "good ole days..." I used to "plan/book" tours of the White House and a "perk" for me was a "private" viewing with family over Christmas...oh, it really was so grand for a midwestern farm gal!! It isn't "as easy" to get tours "in these times" so I do cherish the memories of days of yore. This was such a delight viewing and visiting your post. The Gore's family home on 26th Street in Arlington was always "lived in" and "rollicking." Peace to you and yours during his holiday season!! p.s. You are SO correct...President Bush, etc. "Twinkling/Sparkle" theme was THE BEST!!!

  15. While the decorations are okay, I am seriously wondering who pays for all of this?

    1. If you are a U.S. taxpayer, you should already know this. Google it. This is public knowledge.

  16. I only ever look at your emails for the photos of the great places (even though your copy is terrible, your color eye searing and you cant seem to figure out how to convert the pictures so that they are suitable for easy blog loading and viewing) and to laugh at the sycophantic comments you poor writing, but I am now going to unsubscribe. I am neither Liberal or Democrat but I find your obvious bias totally out of place on a blog about decor and your disrespect for the position of the President shameful. I'm sure you wont miss me and I dont really care but I do hope you take a moment to consider how others view your tacky and bitchy personality.

    1. First, The blog is not meant to be read on email. That is just a notice that there is a new post - you are supposed to go the blog to read it. "and to laughat the sycophantic comments you poor writing" - what/?? your color eye searing - ?????? sorry. I have no clue what you are talking about. my obvious bias? what is that?

      lord. lord. lord. i thought we had gotten over this years ago.
      guess not.

    2. Hello Anon poster above- F' off. Your comments to Joni are completely obtuse. It is her blog and she do and write what ever the hell she wants. Go climb back into your black, black hole.

  17. I have to say, I think I know what political positions you support. Before answering that both sides were criticized, only one dripped with venom.

    1. Venom? Perhaps we have different definitions of the word. I had to go back and look.....and I still don't see it.

    2. haha. lord. just say it i'm curious. what side was venomous?

  18. Hi Joni. Here is a touching and timely article in today's LA Times about one of the volunteers who helped decorate the State Dining Room in the White House this year. She is a three-time cancer survivor whose husband submitted the application to volunteer.

  19. The one that stands out is Laura Bush' snowy trees - that was breathtaking. To me, this year things look chaotic/choppy and skimpy - the swags and garlands don't look full and lush as in years past. I don't get the suitcases either??? I wonder who is in charge - looks like a different florist/designer. And, I have to wonder just how much input the First Lady has, how involved she is (any of them in the past, really) - I bet they just give a couple of suggestions and check on it a couple times and that is it. I understand though, I cannot imagine all they have on their plates! Did they do a gingerbread house? - I probably missed it. Thanks for the post, always interesting!

    1. they did the white gingerbread house. the same as always. i didn't show it. go to hgtv to see all the other pictures!!

  20. I must say that your references to President and Mrs. Obama were disrespectful. I am disappointed.

    1. What did i say that was disrespectful? I"m very curious to know.

  21. I have been to the White House the last two years for the holiday tour and I have to agree that they havent been good as in previous years. Regardless, the tour is always magical and puts one in the holiday spirit. Interesting to see all of the variations in decor at the Vice Presidents residence. Mr. Hadley and Mr. Randolphs designs are clearly the best and most tasteful.

    Thanks for sharing.


  22. Great post,Sorry Colleen..... Joni, you were very fair to all families involved and focused on the decor, thanks for a great post to curl up with on the gloomy cold day!

  23. Great post - loved the Hadley decorated house of the Gore years- and I remember loving it when it was published - seems like yesterday!
    Happy Hannukah
    -linda, NY

  24. Every year I enjoy watching the White House Holiday Decor on HGTV. I would love some year to be one of the volunteers who helps putting it all together. We all have different opinions of what is beautiful in decor--and thank goodness for that for it would be a pretty boring world if we all agreed to everything looking the same. I love how President and Mrs.Obama (as have other Presidents and their First Ladeis) have included honoring all the branches of the military in their holiday decors. It means so much as my father, a WWII veteran, taught us our lives were a gift of those who fought for and protected us and our future. Any time I see this honoring I am thrilled and get chills of pride--no matter what colors used or what person is in our White House. I love that so many facets of our country are highlighted each year, Military, children, education, multi cultural and beauty. What gorgeous designs and decor we have been so blessed to see these past many years. It is funny--one thing I love in the Vice Presidents home is the ties in the curtains!! As my Tante used to always say when we all had our own opinion--Each to their own said the lady as she kissed the cow! I have repeated that my entire life and our children are sick of hearing it but it is true. As you find the decor lacking in beauty and sparkle and being a winter wonderland--I find it charming, beautiful, educational and simply a joy to have the luxury to be able to feel a part of it......

    1. Yes. I was just focusing solely on the design of the decorations. Not politics. And yes, I love all the ways the services are honored. I've talked about that more in previous years and felt it was repeating myself - but I probably should have focused more on the armed services. Thanks for mentioning them.

  25. Count me in as one who was taken aback by the biases in your comments. Imagine if President and Mrs. Obama had staged something more opulent... the criticism of decadence that would have ensued.

    I appreciate the time and research you put into this post, especially with the fabulous and little-known information about our Vice Presidents' residence. It was all spoiled, unfortunately, by your blatant perspectives. It would have been fair to note, especially at this time of year, that former President Carter and his wife have accomplished more for humanitarian purposes than any former president. Sure, her plaid skirt was (ahem) lacking in style. But she and former President Carter deserve accolades for attempting more than any former first couple has.

    You won't miss my readership, surely. I won't miss your tackiness and disrespect for the offices that allow you to post this rubbish.

    1. I don't think that remarking on whether the tinsel is colorful or more monochromatic means you are opening up to criticism of decadence. It's just that whomever was in charge of he decor during the Bush years seems more talented to me. Just like - if we could see the private areas - Im sure that the Smith decor would be fabulous, sophisticated and tasteful. I'm sorry, but Mrs. Carter was known for being thrifty about her clothing. Just like Nancy R. was known for dressing expensively. Both the Bush women didn't spend a fortune on clothing. Mrs. Obama wears a mix of high and low. Yes, the Carters are humanitarians, but together Bush and Clinton have also accomplished great things - despite their political differences.

  26. Obama checks out the decor? That's President Obama, thank you.

    1. I just looked at the Washington Post and headline after headline and story after story - they write Obama. Not President Obama. Or he is called that once in the beginning and the rest is just Obama. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful. I added that picture, then deleted it and the put it in again - the caption was just hastily written.

    2. The correct name of the jewlery designer is Alexis Bittar, not "Alex Bittner".

    3. Fascinating, Joni. The anonymous comments. TV & written media classically refer to a president blah-blah then afterward it's merely their last name. Noticed this from childhood, and I am not young. Clear to see the anonymous comments place you to a higher standard. Congrats.

      Love the pottery in the background of a Mondale pic. Curious to know who the potter/s is/are and if it was him/her wanting the pottery there.

      Seems this year's Obama Christmas at the my/your White House is holding back? Perhaps a fabulous blow out next year !!!!

      Love CHAMP. Thanks for including the important things, Presidential family pets !!!

      Garden & Be Well, XO T

  27. People's comments about the "disrespect" are totally unfounded. Lighten up people.

    As for the decor I agree with Joni's view on the Laura Bush decor was the best. The suitcases looked like a store window display at Macy's. Also, black cookies even if they are decorated like the dogs looks totally unappealing to eat.

    1. Totally agree with you Naz ... 'lighten up people' and regardless how you celebrate (or decorate) let us ALL try to focus on the reason for this season and the message of ....... 'peace on earth and goodwill toward man' that can be translated into any language or culture. -Brenda-

    2. WOW! didn't realize this was a political blog!! Enjoyed the post and must say my favorite picture was the last one -- is that at your home, Joni?

  28. What a wonderful post, Joni! I love your commentary. My husband was a presidential appointee during the first Bush administration, and so we were invited to the White House at Christmas; it was so beautifully decorated...many lit trees simply adorned with mounds and mounds of faux snow, a classic. Laura Bush had exquisite taste too. Thank you for a fantastic trip down memory lane. Happy Holidays and a Wonderful and Healthy New Year. Marilyn in Mt. Vernon, VA

  29. Fascinating to see inside the VP's house which since Cheney has been ON LOCKDOWN. Even though I pass it nearly everyday (you can barely see it from the street, up on a huge hill) I've never been in -it's much easier to get a tour of the White House. The decorations are always a bit lackluster I have to say.... trying to please too many people so nothing good comes out of that!

    1. Architect Design, I don't quite get the all caps re Cheney "on lockdown". I think the Cheney home was by far the most elegant, timeless and beautiful of any of the VP homes reviewed here. Judging from your own style, I can see you might not appreciate anything that didn't come from Grandma's attic.

  30. I love your posts and set aside time to read each one interrupted . At point of family history to interject. There was a national contest for architects back during the Viet Nam War to build a new mansion for the VP. A Houston architect, Preston Bolton, won the competition but the new mansion was not built because of funding issues surrounding the war and the perception that it was an unneeded luxury.

  31. Without even knowing the name of your blog, it would be obvious you are from Texas.

    1. Ditto! It is all good and beautiful . . . beauty is subjective and there should be no holiday decor police, especially during the time of joy that Christmas represents!

  32. I agree Joni, I think Laura's design direction for the Christmas White House was gorgeous! I loved Jacqueline Kennedy's as well. But I think it is because they both had a design plan and stuck to it. It's the same in our houses. My house is the perfect example of that this year, I didn't have a plan and while it looks good, it's not great! Last year, I had a plan and it was cohesive and that was the difference maker. I am sorry people got so personal with you... this is a design blog and your are speaking about design and I thought you were fair. Enough said. Happy Hanukkah!! xx Rié

  33. What a fun post. I am very impressed with the two Tree Dresses by designer Alex Bittner; Very creative idea.

  34. I believe that is a young Laura Bush, on the right, in the picture of the Bushes and the Quayles on the VP porch

  35. Joni, I read your post regularly. However, I have to say, I too was dissapointed with the tone of this post. It felt too critical and disrespectful even if this was not your intention.

  36. Joni, yours is among my favorite interior design posts. It's obvious that you put a lot of thought and knowledge into your commentary, and I appreciate it. I've learned a lot. I am sorry, then, for the posters above who are confusing your talent with whether or not you're a fan of the current administration. If you were writing a story, then a president is addressed with his title followed by his surname, thereafter it is proper to use simply his surname. But you're not a political reporter, so just continue being you. Marilyn in Mt. Vernon, VA.

  37. Hi Joni - Love the VP's house tour through the years - thanks for this. And I yes folks - lighten up - it's just decorating for pete's sake, not an election!

  38. Joni....Happy New Year! I enjoyed the tour of this beautiful home and was very surprised that I prefer the Biden's VP warm and welcoming.

  39. I laughed out loud at the Miss Universe comment Joni! You are so hilarious, and this blog post was a treat to read and see...much work to find all those photos, and its fun to compare the styles. I agree with most of your sentiments. Loved to hear you say that draperies should be done properly or not at all, as I had a career doing custom drapery. I like seeing what your eye is drawn to in the various photos, and then hearing your shoot straight from the hip commentary! Well done!

  40. Wow, it's pretty but seems really over the top! Is all that decoration really necessary?? Half of that would have been more than enough, imo. I don't know why so many people feel the need to really overdue it on the decorations.

  41. Joni!

    You are a riot! Yes, Roslyn was a bit scary in that hostess dress. More like terrifying. But she is super nice in person. I got to meet her years and years ago when I was selected to stand on the tarmac at an airport as one of the reception committee. I shook her hand, and she winced because mine was like a solid block of ice. She said, as any good mother would, 'Oh, honey, you are so cold! I'm worried about you!" Or something on that order. I assured her I was fine and that waiting for her was worth it. Oh, and you will be pleased to know she had on a solid suit and not some horrid plaid moo-moo. During that same time frame, maybe five or so years later, I also met Cornelia Wallace who was soooo good looking and nice, nice, nice. She actually came to our house and talked to us for HOURS. Long story, but it was really something. I was mesmerized by her. She was warm and engaging and fascinating. She also gave us an autographed copy of her autobiography. It was all very surreal.

    I think out of the vice presidential decor that Tipper wins the prize for using Albert Hadley. Loved the look.

    I like the snowy trees of the White House, but I think that Laura Bush might just reign supreme in the tree competition. Her trees were always magical. Maybe that's because she is a teacher, but I like her trees the best. It's just always fun to see the trees. To that end, thank you for sharing the White House Christmas with us from year to year and for going the extra mile to share the VP residence, too. And I loved seeing the pets.

    I have enjoyed being online some today. I have been recuperating from a several month ordeal with Shingles. I am not contagious just trying to recuperate at this point. Do yourself a favor and get the shot! You never, ever, ever want to have this. I also had a reaction to the new shampoo I used. Talk about OY! Anyhow, I am hopefully on the upswing, but no stress is the order of the day.

    Sending much love to you. As a matter of fact, I thought about you because I got a great gift from Mr. Magpie's aunt in Texas. She sent me a water color that she had that is of the ruins of a family home in my family. Her aunt painted it years ago, and she didn't realize the home was from my family. Long story short, it was in a museum exhibition (they actually did the framing), and she just wrapped it up and sent it to me. So that made my Christmas ahead of Christmas. :-) I wish I could send you a picture of it, but ever since I stopped using my old email and started using the new one, I don't think my emails go through.

    On a different note, I hope you have had wonderful holidays and that 2015 will be filled with joy abounding for you and your family!

    You are loved and appreciated by so many, especially me!


    Sheila :-)

  42. Joni...I don't always comment because you have so many...but love your blog and some of the comments are as interesting....hope you had a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year!

  43. Loved this post. I think the White House does an absolutely splendid job of decorating. So much beauty and class in their decorations! The main tree in the oval room is my favourite.

    Thanks for sharing dear!

  44. I agree with Victoria. The white house has always been spot on with its Christmas decorations. If only it could have seen some snow on the yard this year. And how do they make cookies with decorations that flawless!?

  45. I loved reading this post!! It is very obvious the amount of time you spent on researching the pictures. The only thing I saw you favoring was certain design aspects, not administrations! Very well done!! Thanks

  46. What you're saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I'm sure you'll reach so many people with what you've got to say.

  47. What a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing!

  48. Hark !!!!! The Great Joni has spoken !!! Not only has she spoken, she has taken it upon herself to be a fashion critic, a critic of our Nation's most famous house , some one trying to use satire in commenting on the decorations and not doing such a good job at it. It is very evident that you would prefer the Bush Administration and anything they used for decorations to be "simply marvelous " !!! It is really evident that you do not like the Obama's. I now know why I have stopped reading your blog. Sometime ago you had a post on your sister-in-law's closet !!! My goodness. a closet !!! I think the only reason that you showed it was to try to impress readers with the wealth (not so sure there is any ) of your relatives. The only thing that I saw was lots of distasteful cowboy boots and junk jewelry !!! So go on and take a vacation to your "common " little get-a-way !!! Maybe when you make it to the "big time" you can get a vacation in the Hamptons, or better yet , own one !!!! When you first started your blog I really enjoyed it and thought you might have potential !!! You are a clown who tries to be something that you aren't !!! Shame on you to disrespect The White House and the President of the United States !!!! Oops...I must have forgotten, you are a Republican from Texas !! Have yourself a happy little new year....maybe this year you will hit the " big time ""!!!!!!

  49. I posted a post earlier and I see that you have taken it down. Evidently I hit a "nerve" when I talked about what a snob you have become. Delete this one also, but you can rest assured that I will get my message out to your readers. You will have to guard your post diligently because I will post again and again. As I said before, I was one of your biggest fans until the post on "the closet" which was the most distasteful post which consisted of nothing but the extravagance and poor taste of someone with too many cowboy boots and junk jewelry !!! If my memory serves me correctly. the owner of this tacky closet was a member of YOUR family.Now you have the audacity to critique the decorations of The White House !!! Who do you think you are are or better yet....what do you think you are ??? No decorator with any class would do as you have done.

    1. OMG... you are so full of it. You sit there and critique a woman for having jewelry (and not expensive jewels costing millions, but artistic pieces) when you probably drive a car that costs more than the house many families live in. I doubt you drive an old junker car or live in a shack. Why don't you post pics of your house and we can all decide here whether we think it's "extravagant" or not? We all spend our money on various items---you will sit and judge someone's closet while approving of someone spending thousands on antiques. What a hypocrite you are!

  50. I didn't know you are Jewish!!

  51. Joni - wishing you & your family a "Happy New Year" with warm regards, hugs & love from sunny South Texas & Casa Jacaranda. Looking forward to you resuming your posts soon. xo

  52. I haven't commented for a long time, since I found your 'tone' judgmental and ingratiating to your 'heros', as well as repetitive. But this post just takes the cake. I am appalled at your blatant praise for the Cheney's expenditure on the VP residence while blissfully watching as he authorized torture and saw our economy hit the skids, while pandering to Wall Street. Maybe this is a Houston mindset, maybe you only profited by your republican cronies, but the rest of us did not. Commenting about flimsy drapery, how the White House looked so much better when Laura was in charge, is a very loaded statement. I, for one, applaud the Bidens for not spending the taxpayers money for the royal palace Dick Cheney felt was his due. After all, for all intents and purposes, he was running this country for 8 years.
    You need to stick with design, not try to make veiled political commentary with pretty pictures. I get it! You don't like the current administration and you think Republican interior designers do a better job. Good for you.
    I would never criticize your design choices, whether I agree with you or not. But stop with the "Bushes were better" and the "Cheneys were better" when they put us in the greatest crisis we have seen since the Depression and the world wars. Some gratitude should go to the present guys who bailed out our collective asses.
    Watch something other than Fox News and welcome to the 22nd century.
    Happy New Year

    1. All and I repeat All the decorating and design work done on the Vice President's Mansion is privately funded. Not one cent of the tax payers money is used. While I may disagree with the politics of former Vice President Cheney, the home of the Vice President should always show the best of the American way of living. Allan Reyes Interiors/Palm Beach Washington DC

  53. Dear joanneinjax, I believe Mrs. Webb is a Democrat and voted for President Obama. I think this post was truly just about the decor.

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  56. I'm sorry but I differ with you Joni. I think the decoration of White House for Christmas was really delicate and graceful. But your insights on the whole deco was really descriptive and well-written. It's always a pleasure to see Mr. President by the way.

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  64. We were very happy to see photographs of the different designs of the Vice President's Home. The best the home has looked is under Mrs. Cheney, she used Washington Designer Frank Randolph. Frank is known for his elegant, cool, understated, lightly colored interiors. Frank and Mrs. Cheney were very respectful of the Queen Anne/Victorian architecture of the mansion. Rooms were lightened and dark color distractions were eliminated (dark handrails, ugly Venetian blinds, jewel colored little glass tile fireplace surrounds). In short the home was given a serene and comfortable background for the entertaining of the Vice President. Wonderful art was on loan to the mansion. The design elements were subdued and appropriate. Correct antiques were acquired for all the rooms. An example of correct design were the Stark Carpet stair rugs which were in light tight woven off white/beige coloring. The Stark Carpet wall to wall in the main living room smoothed out all the different angles of Victorian architecture and established a comfortable background. The old wood floors of the home were very beaten up and could not be successfully repaired. An other example of good design was side panel gathered silk curtains on the windows, no heavy swags and jabots to distract the eyes. Sad that the Biden did not recognize the quality of the work that was done on the mansion during the previous 8 year tenure. The old mansion was brought up to date with the correct elements for a comfortable entertaining background for the Vice President. Allan Reyes Interiors/Palm Beach and Washington DC