Friday, March 3, 2017

So it turns out that Donald Trump isn't going to be changing the Oval Office any time soon. Apparently, Trump was under the impression that he had to pay for everything at the White House. That's not true: Congress provides a hefty payment to the First Family for redecoration of the Oval Office and the personal quarters on the second and third floors. Trump initially didn't want to spend anything, so he didn't ask for changes. Now, however, he's taking his time deciding what he wants -- so he can get the most luxurious items for the budget.

Here's some Oval Offices through history:

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Oval Office -- FDR was a former Secretary of the Navy, and loved nautical themes. He used a plain blue carpet, and very little furniture (because he needed space to use his wheelchair). Roosevelt used the "Herbert Hoover desk". On December 24, 1929, a fire severely damaged the West Wing, including the Oval Office. A group of Grand Rapids, Michigan, furniture-makers donated the desk to then-President Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt continued to use it, and it currently resides at the Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt had the big globe installed so he could track military movements during World War II.

Harry S. Truman's Oval Office -- Celadon, a shade of green, was all the rage in the 1950s, and Truman had his Oval Office painted in celadon with matching curtains. Truman used the 1903 Theodore Roosevelt Desk in his Oval Office. TR never actually used it; it was first used by William Howard Taft. It remained in the Oval Office during the Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Hoover administrations. It was removed after the fire in 1929.

Dwight D. Eisenhower's Oval Office -- Ike retained the Truman paint scheme but replaced the carpet with an FDR-like blue. The pale blue curtains matched the carpet, and featured a less fancy valance. He got rid of the cluttery amount of furniture used by Truman, added a stereo console, and retained the TR desk.

John F. Kennedy's Oval Office -- Kennedy retained the Eisenhower scheme, but replaced the desk with the Resolute Desk. This desk was created from wood salvaged from the HMS Resolute and given in 1879 to President Rutherford B. Hayes by Queen Victoria. It was never used in the Oval Office, however, until Jacqueline Kennedy found it in 1961 and had moved into the Oval Office. Jacqueline Kennedy and her decorator, French interior designer Stephane Boudin, were at work creating a new look for the Oval Office in 1963. Kennedy was going to see it for the first time after his trip to Dallas. This desk went on tour after Kennedy's death, and did not return to the White House until 1977.

Lyndon B. Johnson's Oval Office -- Johnson retained the Kennedy scheme, but replaced the desk with the Johnson Desk. This desk was made by the U.S. Senate Cabinet Shop some time between 1906 and 1926. Johnson began using it while a Senator, and brought it with him to the White House. It's a rounded, two-pillar mahogany desk with with cabinets on either side. Like most Senate desks, it has a bright green leather top (used to blot paper when ink pens were still in use). Johnson was an inveterate TV watcher, and had a specially-built television console with three TVs in it moved into the Oval Office. He kept them tuned to ABC, NBC, and CBS all day long. After Johnson won election in 1964, he had the red Kennedy carpet removed and replaced with a light greyish-blue carpet.

Richard Nixon's Oval Office -- Nixon loved the trappings of the presidency, and demanded luxe accommodations in the Oval Office. Gone were the simple valances of Stephane Boudin, replaced by massive yellow silk brocades and tied-back curtains. Johnson took his desk with him, so Nixon used the Wilson Desk. This desk was purchased between 1897 and 1899 by Vice President Garret Hobart. It was installed in the Vice President's Room in the U.S. Capitol, and Nixon liked it so much that he asked for it to be moved to the White House when he became president. Nixon mistakenly believed it had been used by President Woodrow Wilson, hence the name. Nixon was the first president to have the Great Seal of the President stitched into his carpet. Jimmy Carter retained the Nixon Oval Office scheme unchanged. After Carter left office, the Wilson Desk went back to the Vice President's Room.

Ronald Reagan's Oval Office -- Nancy Reagan favored pastels for the Oval Office. The walls were painted an off-white, the carpet was now a beige with rays in it, and the valance behind the desk was a more traditional swag style. She also installed two different kinds of drapes over the windows, a sort of rust-rose and a yellowed ivory. Reagan returned to using the Resolute Desk.

George H.W. Bush's Oval Office -- George H.W. Bush radically changed the Reagan Oval Office. The walls were painted a ivory, and the cornice corn yellow. A light Victorian-era valance and grey-blue curtains were placed behind the desk, augmented by faded-ivory curtains. The carpet was replaced with a pale blue, with faded yellow Great Seal. George H. W. Bush used the C&O Desk in his Oval Office. Created for the owners of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway around 1920, it was donated to the White House in 1975.

Bill Clinton's Oval Office -- Bill Clinton had the Oval Office walls painted a very pale yellow. He retained the Victorian-style valance, but now the valance and curtains were done in brocade yellow silk. The carpet was replaced with a royal blue, with full-color Great Seal. Clinton restored the Resolute Desk to the Oval Office, and it has remained there ever since.

George W. Bush's Oval Office -- George W. Bush returned to a more Reaganesque Oval Office. The walls were painted a dusky yellow, and valance became Reagan-like -- albeit the valance and curatins were a burnished bronze brocade silk with gold thread. The Clinton's blue carpet was gone, but the full-color Great Seal retained. The carpet was now a dark brown and beige, with rays in it. The Resolute Desk was retained.

Barack Obama's Oval Office -- Barack Obama's first Oval Office used yellow and white striped wallpaper for the walls. The valance was simplified into a Reaganesque style, but with brocade designs. The valance and curtains were both made of brocade burnished gold silk. The carpet was replaced with a beige one, with the Great Seal in shades of brown and yellow. Obama's favorite quotes were woven into the edge of the carpet. He retained the Resolute Desk. After two years, the gold silk curtains were replaced with a dark rust-rose color reminiscent of Reagan's. The valance was now a flat-panel one, with darker stripes.

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