Architectural Digest has given us a present as a thank-you for all we have endured this past year: the most contentious election ever, that I know we ALL can’t wait for it to be over, once and for all.
It’s our gift that we’ve only waited eight years for! Finally!!!! We now get to see the Michael S. Smith designed White House. Well, we’ve seen a few leaks of his work for the Obamas, a few glimpses over the years, but not much, not much at all.
AND AND AND….it’s all pretty…surprising.
Smith’s rooms for the Obamas look so different than the usual White House decor that it’s hard to believe this is same place where all our First Families have lived. Smith’s color scheme is so novel to the White House – it looks more like a hotel or a fancy home than the Presidential abode we have all come to love. We are all familiar with the usual reds, green, blues, and yellows of the Bushes, the Reagans, the Clintons, and more – but now we have a new color scheme that is butterscotch, rust, and caramel, warm tones with touches of dark green and lots and lots of contemporary art.
It’s a unique approach, to say the least.
I found the Befores of all the rooms that Smith designed for the Obamas and researched the history of the rooms. And, I searched the internet and found the oversized photos from Architectural Digest, so I hope you enjoy it all!!!
I’m very interested to know what you think of the Smith design. So, be sure to leave your opinion in the comment section!!!
A floor plan of the family floor – in case you have forgotten how it is all laid out. All but two rooms designed by Smith are on the Family Residence floor.
The Center Hall:
The Center Hall 1904 – under Theodore Roosevelt. Dark walls, white trim, plants and Victorian furniture.
Briefly: In 1873, President Grant had redecorated the White House, turning it from a gracious Federal House into a Victorian nightmare. Grant had help from Louis Tiffany who installed glass partitions and windows that further marred the original design of the house. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt had had enough of all the Victorian decor that cluttered every nook and cranny of the White House. He ordered a major renovation to remove all the Victoriana and restore the house back to its Federal roots. His plans also included moving the main stairs in the house and adding bathrooms in the bedroom suites. He also had the first executive office building built to the west of the White House, thus freeing up valuable space from the second floor.
1930: Herbert Hoover. This is strange. That skylight leads up to the third floor hall where there is a true skylight! I’ve never seen this photo. Bookcases were built along the long hall.
In 1948, President Truman added the beautiful and iconic south portico balcony to the White House. At that time it was discovered the house was unsound and was in danger of falling down. The White House was taken down to its shell and was completely rebuilt from the basement up to the third floor – a steel frame was installed instead of the original wood joists.
Above is how the center hall looked after the renovation. New trim was added, along with shell accents above the doors.
1962: The Kennedy Center Hall. Love the chandeliers and French chairs. At the end of the hall, it’s hard to see, but Jackie added two Chinoiserie screens to flank the door. Above all the other doors – she removed the “shell” trim – which remained missing for a number of years.
From the other side, Jackie Kennedy’s Center Hall. I love all the white fabric mixed with blue and white stripes.
1968: Fabulous photograph! The Johnson years – love the Chinoiserie screens. I’m sure Mark Sikes would love them too!!
1975: Gerald Ford. The screens remain. Jackie’s French chairs are used here. But – the peach wall color is awful, and so is the way they painted the trim!
1981: The Reagan Center Hall. The screens are now put together and rest behind the sofa. Love the coffee table. Twin antique mirrors flank the doors. Notice the trim paint was corrected. Nancy’s decor was one of the best. Just wonderful!
1992: Reagan. A larger view.
1991: George W. Bush. Very pretty! The shells over the doors have now been reinstalled. I’m not a fan of the center table though – it’s very clunky looking.
The Bushes walk through the Center Hall – where to the right is the focal point of its design.
For Vogue, Laura Bush posed on the focal point of the Center Hall: Tiger velvet on the incredible settee and two chairs, set before the Chinoiserie screen. Gorgeous and beyond chic.
Early on, when Bo was still a puppy, the President and his daughter were shown in the Center Hall – with its old furniture and carpet. What was interesting about this photo was how the upstairs quarters seemed so much like a true home.
And then, in 2014, Queen Margrethe of Denmark visited the White House and this small picture of the hall was published in a Danish magazine. It was quite a shock to see how much everything had changed: area rugs, a glass coffee table, contemporary art!
And today, we finally get to see the room in Architectural Digest.
2016: Obama’s Center Hall. First, the clunky center table is still in use! No Chinoiserie screen – but Michael Smith loves those!? Why didn’t he use it? There are many contemporary touches about with the art and the glass coffee table. He used the same furniture but in modern colors. The green vases by Peter Schlesinger that flank the door are gorgeous. So is the rug, very pretty. The color scheme is new to the White House. There are dark colors, warm tones, orange, gold, moss green – shades we haven’t seen here before.
A close up of the decor – gold, green, and deep peach.
The Family Dining Room:
The Family Dining Room used to be a large bedroom – as seen here in 1898 in this pink bedroom during McKinley’s presidency. First daughters Alice Roosevelt and Helen Taft both used it as their rooms.
After the Truman restoration, it became a family room, then a dining room. At times this has been one of my favorite rooms in the White House.
After the 1952 Truman renovation, the bedroom was used as a sitting room.
1961: Jacqueline Kennedy changed the room into a family dining room. She added a kitchen to the suite. She found antique wallpaper that depicted battles of the American Revolution. The chandelier is fabulous – but it didn’t last long. This is my favorite room – just like this.
Later, the Kennedy chandelier was changed, as was the rug and the chair fabric.
The room remained the same for years until the Nixons added this bold rug, a new chandelier, and new curtains.
In 1975 the Nixons changed the rug, the fabric, and the curtains. Again!
Mrs. Gerald Ford HATED the battle scenes and installed wallpaper over the wallpaper. All the Federal styled mirrors are gone, replaced with oils. Here she entered the Queen of England and Prince Philip.
BTW, are you watching Netflix “The Crown?” It’s so good!!!
AND then, a few years later, Rosalyn Carter took OFF the yellow wallpaper and brought back the battle scenes. Here, Nancy Reagan kept the same look. Not sure I like the dual convex mirrors. Here the tables are set for a Prince Charles dinner.
Mrs. Bush liked the battle scenes too. So did Millie!
But, then we come to the Clintons who didn’t like the wallpaper, so it was covered up again. The room was done in yellow, again. Yellow is a popular shade for the upstairs White House.
Actually – this room doesn’t look TOO bad, but the Clintons win the award for having the worst White House decor. Now, if Hillary wins – I just hope she doesn’t hire designer Kaki Hockersmith again!!!
Mrs. Laura Bush’s Family Dining Room – has cream damask wallpaper. She used most of the same elements in the room – just recovered the chairs and added new curtains. Very pretty.
Later, it looks like Laura Bush brought back the Nixon rug.
And now for something completely different:
The Obamas. New chairs. New round table – which fills the room very nicely. There’s a seating area by the windows. New curtains. New lamps by Spitzmiller, of course. New wallpaper by Jasper, of course. And – wait – is that seagrass?!?!? Hard to tell, but I’ll take it! A tryptich of modern art at the left along with a large mirror over the mantel that Laura Bush used. The chandelier stays in the room.
Now, I know there is a Green Room – but these are two shades of green that the White House has never seen! I love the art work.
The crystal chandelier is just gorgeous.
What do you think of the dining room? It’s quite a change from the Battle scene wallpaper and the cream damask. Is it too different for the classic White House?
The Yellow Oval Room:
This room sits above the oval Blue Room. It has been used throughout the years for social events and as Presidential studies. Throughout the years it has been traditionally painted yellow, hence its name. President Truman installed the Portico balcony that connects to this room.
1890: President Benjamin Harrison. Victorian clutter. Notice the ceiling wallpaper – wow! So modern!
1909: President Theodore Roosevelt completely redecorated to rid the house of Victoriana – it looks almost modern now. Notice the tiger(?) rug.
1939: President Franklin Roosevelt – his room was navy themed since he had been Secretary of the Navy. Leather sofa! Tiger rug.
1962: The Yellow Oval Room because a sitting room under Jacqueline Kennedy. Her decor is fabulous! I would move in today. White sofa, French chairs. The room contained the French furniture that she collected for her famous redecoration.
Jackie put a fur skin on the white sofa to protect it. I’m sure she would have made a tailored slipcover if there was a Shabby Slips during that time. Actually, many of her upholstered pieces in the White House were slipcovered. Before Rachel Ashwell, slipcovers were mostly used to protect furniture during the off seasons.
1964: Lady Bird Johnson used some of the Kennedy decor but she used a yellow sofa. Notice the mantel – it gets changed.
1977: Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter – notice the red chairs by the mantel, Laura Bush used the same chairs with the same upholstery. The Obamas are still using these chairs. And, notice the mantel! That’s now been changed.
The Reagan years – mostly stayed the same. That desk is gorgeous – and so is that chandelier. The Denis-Louis Ancellet desk is where the Camp David Peace Accords were signed.
The Yellow Oval room remained the same, basically, through the latest presidencies. Laura Bush move the two sofas to flank the fireplace – but the two coffee tables look a bit much together. Still – the same chairs and sofas were used and the same rug. This is a gorgeous photograph of the beautiful Laura.
Here you can see the tall tea tables look a bit cramped put together like this and those bowls would have looked better on demi-lunes.
But in the end, the room is called The Yellow Oval Room and it has stayed yellow through decades and decades of different First Ladies and their decorators.
For the first few years Michelle Obama used the Bush decor – when she hired Michael Smith she had him first decorate her daughters bedrooms and her mother’s suite. But, then, there is a hint of the new decor – the corner of a new coffee table:
In 2014 when Queen Margrethe of Denmark visited the Yellow Oval Room – you could just see a hint of the new decor where the corner of the new contemporary coffee table peeked out. The First Lady was still using the old chairs though.
This photo was shown in a Danish magazine in 2014, more hints of the new decor. A new rug. New chairs.
And last year, in 2015 when Queen Letezia visited, even more of the new decor was revealed: the newly recovered chairs and rug.
This image from 2014 wasn’t seen by many – you can see the new rug, the new decor, the new curtains. And – notice the contemporary art on the right. The art is borrowed from both the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art and is routinely changed out, although the Obamas have picked out a few new pieces for the permanent White House collection.
And today, Michelle Obama is finally officially revealing HER Yellow Oval Room decor:
2016: Wow. I do love it – but it looks completely different! The walls remain yellow and she reused much of the furniture like the beautiful desk and the French chairs and end tables. She reused the chandelier and the candelabras by the window. But…it has a completely new look. Not sure it is elegant enough though? What do you think?
Studying it, it really is a gorgeous room. I like the furniture arrangement – the table by the window. Perhaps Michelle hosts intimate lunches here for her guests? And Victoria and Son HERE reported that Smith called and ordered a pair of their hurricanes for the White House – seen here. One complaint – the art work on the right is hung too high!!!
AND…it does look like something that Hillary Clinton would like and would use, just as is. But, Donald Trump likes gold decor. I’m not sure this is his aesthetic. He likes gilt and more gilt. I think he would have been happier with the previous decor than the Obama decor.
A close up of the green fabric and tape trim on the sofa along with the velvet on the French chairs. The view is gorgeous.
The view towards the fireplace. Smith changed the arrangement that Laura Bush used – the two sofas flanking the mantel. That seemed a bit crowded, so he used two club chairs. The coffee tables are stunning. If he wins, I think Trump will like these because they are gold! This room – in this photo – seems more traditional than some of the other Smith decor. Again, that chandelier!!!! Gorgeous!
The Treaty Room:
This room has been changed and redecorated by almost every president. It has been used as an office and a sitting room and everything in between. It was once used as a cabinet meeting room and for a while it was used as an ice house to keep the presidents cool in the days before air conditioning. William McKinley signed the peace treaty with Spain in this very room – which ended the Spanish American War. The painting of that event hangs in the room today. It was Jacqueline Kennedy who turned the room back into the “Treaty Room.” after it was called The Monroe Room for a number of years. John Kennedy signed the nuclear test ban treaty in this room. The Obamas use it as an office for the President and a place for the family to gather in privacy.
In 1885, Grover Cleveland used the room to meet with the cabinet. The table is now used as a desk by President Obama. Notice the oversized map on the wall, along with the painting of George Washington.
In 1890, Benjamin Harrison used it as his official Cabinet Meeting room. This was before there was a West Wing and official business took place in the White House. The room has been cleaned up a bit with oil paintings now lining the walls.
1883 – at the right the steps lead up the President’s office which was in the Lincoln bedroom, back then.
1909 – President Taft. He used this a study. You can see there is a new white mantel and shelves lining all the walls. Washington is back! The door to the Lincoln bedroom is now gone since the President didn’t use it as an office any longer. The desk is the Resolute, made famous by John Kennedy Jr. when he peeked out from its secret door.
1932. Herbert Hoover tore out all the new shelves and changed it to the Monroe Room, using Monroe furniture.
1940. This room was used by First Ladies now.
Until the Kennedys, the Rose Room looked like this.
Jacqueline Kennedy restored the room to The Treaty Room. This chandelier was later changed out. Evidentially the First Ladies liked this decor because it stayed like this for a long time.
The correct chandelier – it was from President Grant’s East Room decor.
And here, in a wonderful photograph, right after surgery for cancer, President Reagan met with Jim Wright, Strom Thurmond and Bob Dole in the Treaty Room. You can really see the unusual trim on the walls in this picture.
Barbara Bush finally got rid of the Kennedy decor. White sofa and white chairs mixed with leather ones. Very pretty.
And then, we get the Clinton decor by Kaki. I love the rug.
Please lord, if HRC is elected, don’t let her rehire Kaki!!!! Hanging is the famous painting of McKinley “Signing of the Peace Protocol Between Spain and the United States” on August 12, 1898. He signed the treaty in this very room. Hillary used this chandelier – which will show up again with the Obamas.
When George W. Bush was elected, he brought back his father’s light walls, although he kept the Clinton rug. Laura also got new drapes. The desk stayed, as did the painting. Notice that the original Grant chandelier is now back too, after Barbara Bush put it away to use the crystal chandelier, which Clinton removed to use the brass one. The First Ladies go back and forth with the White House antiques.
George Bush in the Treaty Room. He used the desk against the side wall, which is different than others.
Early on, in 2009, President Obama was photographed in the Treaty Room. He uses this as a night office and as a family room. Here, the Bush decor is still in situ.
Two photos of the updated room with Michael Smith decor were leaked. Stunning! This is really gorgeous – the art work makes the entire room. It was such a shock to see such modern art work – so large – in the classic White House. But it’s just a fabulous piece of art.
The other photo showed the family eating dinner (!) on the ottoman, which to me looks like a Hollyhock/Suzanne Rheinstein piece. Not sure I would EVER let my family eat on a fabric ottoman!! Makes me nervous just looking at it. And notice the beautiful wood floors. I can’t help it – I’m such a fan of this man and his family.
And now, we finally see the entire room with the wallpaper and stencil. The light fixture that the Clintons used is now back in the room. The room is filled with personal mementos that the Obamas have collected over their 8 years. Beautiful leather chairs. Flanking the fireplace are a series of Native American prints.
Close up of the prints by George Catlin. See the Emmy???
A close up of the chandelier with the eagle. This is really a pretty piece. And notice the stencil.
Outside the Treaty Room. A bust of Winston Churchill is on the right.
A close up of the painting over Obama’s desk appears to be a Native American.
The Resolute desk was a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes – in 1880. It was built from the timbers of the ship The Resolute. The panel that John Kennedy Jr. is crawling through was added by Franklin Roosevelt to hide his leg braces. You can see where the desk was made taller – there is a off color stripe around the base. Reagan later had it made even taller for his long legs – and the poor matching stain was fixed at that time.
Caroline and Kerry Kennedy playing in the desk.
When Caroline Kennedy came to the Oval Office to visit President Obama – he showed her the desk where she and her brother used to play. So sad John is gone!
The Master Bedroom:
The master bedroom is part of a three room suite that includes the Living Room and the Dressing Room. Over the centuries - various first families have had different sleeping arrangements. Most first couples slept apart before more contemporary times. Originally the President would usually sleep in what is now called the master bedroom. Later, after FDR, the President started sleeping in what is now called the Living Room – which lies in between the master bedroom and the yellow oval room. Today – first couples usually sleep in the same room and the family uses the living room as a place to eat and watch TV.
1877 President Hayes – Victorian times although Stark carpet would love this rug. The tufted chair on the left looks like ones sold today. Through the door is the dressing room.
1911 - President Taft. The Victorian decor is gone. Love the fringe on the chairs and chaise! Very pretty.
Mamie Eisenhower’s master bedroom in pink and green with a tufted headboard! Actually this is very cute for Mamie who didn’t have the best of taste.
Jacqueline Kennedy has the prettiest bedroom in cream and French blue. Love her room so much.
Across from her bed is a slipcovered cream sofa and skirted table with yellow French chair. What’s not to love?!?!?!
The Fords showed off the bedroom to the Carters. The old tufted headboard was reused – but I hope they recovered it! Mrs. Carter’s room was yellow with a canopy bed.
The Reagans shared the master bedroom – with the peach carpet and beautiful handpainted wallpaper with birds.
Another photograph of the beautiful Reagan bedroom. There are no pictures of the Bushes and Clintons bedrooms.
The Obamas bedroom is very classic – more so than some of the other designed Smith rooms. The only modern touch is the coffee table, which looks interesting. The decor is very English Country Manor house. The desk on the left was been used by other presidents – as has the chandelier. Very pretty. Very lovely.
Close up of the bed and the mirrors flanking the bed.
The desk and coffee table. The desk is just beautiful.
Against one wall is art work and another chair.
The Living Room:
This was originally the second bedroom of the master bedroom suite. After Franklin Roosevelt, the President would sleep in this room while the First Lady would sleep in the master bedroom. Since the more recent First Couples – starting with the Fords – have shared a bedroom, this room has become a night office and TV room and is called the Living Room.
The original Lincoln bed with the canopy. The White House Victoriana era is amusing! Every room from this time period looks exactly alike – a big mishmash. Here, before the remodeling by Teddy Roosevelt in 1902 – this room was much wider. You can see the bed is placed between two doors. After the remodeling, a bathroom was fashioned out the space and this second door on the left is now gone.
1892 – Benjamin Harrison. Notice the pillow with his name on it! That was a huge surprise to me. You always think of Harrison as a dour widower – but reading his history today, I learned his daughter acted as his First Lady after her mother died. She is probably the one who lovingly stitched the pillow for her father. After Harrison left office, he married his late wife’s very young niece and had another daughter with her. Harrison’s older two children never spoke to their father again. Happy story, no?
The other side of the room. You can see here how the room used to be laid out – symmetrically designed with a fireplace and two doors that led to the master bedroom next door. After the 1902 remodeling, the bathroom was added to the suite. This addition took up floor space and caused it to be weirdly asymmetrical. Today – the right door shown here is gone and the wall is now right next to the mantel – which throws off the beautiful original design of the room.
1915 – Woodrow Wilson
Here – you can see the newly remodeled room with the fireplace off center. The wall is right next to the mantel and the beautiful shape of the original design is now gone.
Several Presidents used the beautiful bed including Truman. You can see again – that the bed used be placed between the two doors that led to the Yellow Oval room – but only one door remains now.
Here you can see how the bathroom and closets were added to this room – before, all this space was in the room itself.
After the Truman restoration – a rare view into the bathroom in this space.
1960s. John Kennedy slept in this room. It was decorated in the same blues that the First Lady used in her bedroom and dressing room. So many books. Notice a tiny light on his headboard. And there is a dress shirt freshly laundered on top of the TV.
The two windows.
And the view towards the now off centered fireplace. All the chairs are slipcovered.
President Lyndon Johnson used to hold meetings in his bedroom, while in his PJs. Notice the larger light that is now over his bed!
Mrs. Ford announced that she and the President would be sharing a bedroom. She used this as a TV room. Love the curtains!
But, the Reagans win the prize. The linen is so beautiful. Here the walls are painted yellow – but not sure if that is a misprint. Notice the white chair with the red trim. And that chandelier – it is now in the Obama Treaty Room and was in the Clinton Treaty Room. Through the doors you can see the Reagan’s handpainted bird wallpaper.
I LOVE this photo!! So sweet!! Notice on the left is the series of the Native American prints that are now in the Obama Treaty Room.
Next Barbara Bush redid the room using her famous rug. She actually made this herself! Very beautiful. The desk on the left is the same one in the Obama Master Bedroom. Same chandelier.
Another view. Through this door on the right is the Yellow Oval room. You can see the rug better here.
Here you can see the colored photo of the room – in blues and pinks.
The only photo I could find of the rug in situ – in color.
Here is the George W. Bush design. The curtains are celadon silk. Wish we could see more.
And here is the Obama Living Room:
Browns and taupes with green accents. The rug is beautiful. Very nice – it continues the decor in the three rooms that connect together: The yellow oval room, the living room, and the master bedroom. These rooms lead off the center hall which also works together with this trio of rooms.
The lamp is Baker and the side table is Jasper. But the art work is stunning! Just gorgeous!!!
The Family Dining Room:
This room is actually on the first floor – next to the State Dining Room. It’s not really used by the family every night anymore. Jacqueline Kennedy is the one who first turned a bedroom on the second floor into a family dining room with a small kitchen, probably because she had two toddlers.
Before the Theodore Roosevelt renovations of 1902. Teddy hated all the Victorian additions and that was his motivation for the renovations, along with creating offices in a separate building. Notice the gorgeous bird plates
These are part of the Hayes china. Lucy Hayes met the artist Theodore R. Davis who told her she should use the flora and fauna of our country when designing her china. He made over 130 designs in odd shapes which were produced by Haviland for $3,120!! Art critics did not care for the china, but today it is much admired. Gorgeous, no?
And here in 1906, after the Roosevelt renovation. Quite a refreshing difference.
1906. The ceiling was raised and vaulted in the restoration with bas reliefs added. The ceiling is a very pretty addition.
1911. You can see the ceiling a bit better here.
1952. After the Truman restoration. New crystal chandelier, red rug, red curtains. I’m not a big fan of plain red rugs – it’s too Buckingham Palace.
Early Kennedy dining room.
Final Kennedy dining room – with the gorgeous mantel.
1991. The rug isn’t great but it stayed for over 10 years. Notice the medallion around the chandelier.
Laura Bush’s rug. OK. One comment. I LOVE oval portraits! Love them. But, I think they only look good in oval frames.
OK. See what I mean? Doesn’t the square frame make that portrait look like something you might see in a frame shop with a cheap print inside it? The oval frame is so much more elegant.
And another, just to get you to agree with me!!!
Repeat after me: Oval portraits belong in oval frames!
And, now we have the Obama Family Dining Room by Michael Smith. This room was already revealed last year. The photo was a poor one, badly colored, and I think the new photos make the room look better.
It seems like the same furniture was used – but not sure about the chest between the windows. I don’t think that’s been in the room before. OK. I’m not crazy about this decor. I don’t care for the rug. This is on the First Floor, not the private family floor. It just is a bit too modern. And I hate the curtains. Not sure where that color came from, except it’s the same as in the Oval Office.
Here is Michelle’s new china.
And another view. Smith helped her, along with the White House curator. The green will go great in the green striped dining room upstairs. Except it’s not green. It’s really blue. It’s modern and simple – and so very much like the Obamas. I really like it.
It’s actually “Kailua Blue” inspired by the president’s Hawaii home. OK, that makes sense. They had a company from their home state of Illinois make the china. An article about the new china says Michelle was inspired by the 1806 design of James Madison’s china:
I don’t see the connection, but it IS a very modern china for the 19th century.
This photo shows the rug better. Not my favorite – but it does look better here.
The State Dining Room is next door. The two rooms are used together many times for state dinners. Because of this their decor has to coordinate. Let’s see if you think it does coordinate. I’m not so sure.
A drawing of the State Dining Room from 1871.
And here, before the Truman renovation, it looks almost exactly the same since the 1902 Roosevelt renovation. These dark paneled walls are such a surprise.
After the Truman renovation – it remained like this until the Kennedy’s redecoration. The paneled walls are now painted. Not sure where the Lincoln portrait was moved to.
The Kennedy decor – a complete change. Lincoln is back!
Another view. The State Room doesn’t change very often.
The next major redecoration was the Clintons, which stayed like this until last year. I love this decor, but is it too sweet?
Michelle Obama’s new decor with new silk striped curtains, new chairs with horsehair upholstery, and a new rug – of which two were ordered so that one could be cleaned.
Crisp white walls. I don’t think that Michael Smith designed this – but he may have offered his opinion. I am not sure that the decor blends in with its neighbor, the new Family Dining Room. Do you?
The Solarium or The Sky Parlor
On the third floor, above the Yellow Oval Room, President Taft ordered a sleeping porch be built so that he could cool off on hot nights. Nothing more than a shack, it wasn’t until 1927 when First Lady Coolidge improved upon it and created a true room. It was again improved during the 1952 Truman renovation. Today, the solarium is another family room with a kitchenette for parties and snacks. Most First Families have loved the private space. Eisenhower played cards here and even BBQed outside the solarium. Caroline Kennedy and a very select group of friends attended kindergarten here. The Johnson teens used it as a hangout room. Ronald Reagan recuperated here after the assassination attempt and Chelsea Clinton liked to entertain her friends in the solarium.
The original sleeping porch. Quite rustic. Hard to believe any United States President ever slept out here! Times have certainly changed.
In 1927, the room was enlarged with fabulous wicker chairs and notice in the corner – a cot of sorts piled with textiles and pillows!
Before the Truman restoration – there was linoleum floor. At this time, the room was rectangular shaped.
President “Ike” actually grilled outside the solarium!! Notice the bamboo chairs!! These must be the prototype for the Ballard Designs version.
After the restoration, decorated in blue and white, the room now has a bay shaped window that overlooks the city of Washington D.C.
Kindergarten for Caroline Kennedy.
The day before Nixon resigned, he sat here with his family and daughter Tricia.
The Nixon decor – used by the Fords. Sixties chic in yellow and green.
Wow. Love this! The Reagans used green and white with touches of yellow. Love!! Nancy had really great taste, not quite as refined as Jackie’s, but she was a close second.
The Clintons in plaid and blues with pink. Looks like a hotel room.
Laura Bush put down a faux seagrass (!) rug and beams were added. It looks like the chair and coffee table may have been originally used here, decades ago? Love the ottoman. Very chic!
And, in the last room that Architectural Digest showed that Michael Smith designed, the solarium is done in caramel leather chairs and rust colored sofas with a contemporary design. The coffee table is an organic shape. Behind, the gorgeous view is perfectly framed by the curtains - they hid all the small areas of wall space with the panels. I wish there was a pop of a contrasting color, but this looks so chic for such a throwaway room.
So – what do you think of the Smith designs? The White House is not a museum, but it’s not a contemporary home either. Smith had to walk a fine line and in general I think he did a good job, but I’m not sure his color palette is right for the Federal style house. Most of his rooms are very caramel colored, taupe, rust, with pops of green. Will the next family keep the designs? Since both candidates are 69, I’m sure they will only be here four years, so the new president should probably retain the new designs.
A recap: The Yellow Oval Room I think is perfect.
Either this view, which I love….
or this view. Smith kept the yellow walls and used just a few contemporary pieces.
And I love the bedroom.
The hallway is pretty but I prefer the Bushes with the tiger silk settee.
The living room is a bit too dark, too contemporary for my tastes – in the White House.
I love the dining room wallpaper – but is it too trendy for the White House?
The Family Dining Room on the public floor has a very contemporary rug and the color scheme is brown and rust.
Does the Smith design for the Obama’s blend in with the adjoining classic Green Room, Blue Room and Red Room? Should Smith have used more of a palette that coordinates with the look of the White House for the past 100 years?
Laura Bush updated the Green Room during her tenure – it’s still in the traditional color scheme. Will Smith’s decor hold up? Should he have tried to make the rooms fit in more with the classic red, blue, green and yellow?
Does it matter that the private rooms are more personally designed? I’m curious to know what you think!!
Two great sales:
Spode Christmas China on Sale!! HERE.
Designer wrapping paper including Mark Sikes HERE