Presidential Style

November 8, 2016

By Tab Byrum


Well, it’s finally here, Election Day, a day we’ve all been looking forward to or dreading I can’t decide which. While we wait and see what the outcome is going to be of this crazy election year I thought we would take a look at the White House through the lens of Architectural Digest. Recently the design magazine did a story and photo spread on the Executive Mansion and specifically on the rooms used by the first family as their personal space. Whenever we elect a new president they are allowed to redecorate the area on the second floor of the White House that’s designated their private family area, in 2009 when the Obamas moved in Mrs. Obama asked for design help from designer Michael S. Smith and the results are stunning. I love when designers are able to combine antique elements with newer contemporary elements and it all feels cohesive, of course, that is paramount when moving into a home that’s filled with antiques from the past 240 years and have been used by all Presidential families. Mrs. Obama and Michael Smith were able to warm up the rooms of this old house using things like grass cloth wallpaper, contemporary rugs and an amazing collection of modern art on loan to the White House from the collection of the country. Smith says Mrs. Obama’s first priority when decorating their personal space was to get the rooms done for their young daughters so this major transition would feel less crazy and more smooth. The results are beautiful and timeless with lots of warm colors that provide a beautiful backdrop for antiques, art, and contemporary lighting. Here’s a look behind usually closed doors at these beautiful quarters from Architectural Digest. Enjoy!!!


The Treaty Room is said to be a favorite room for the President to work in late at night. The artworks on the walls are depictions of Native American life by artist George Catlin. 


The hall outside the Treaty Room with a bust of Winston Churchill on the left.


The Center Hall is a beautiful combination of antique and contemporary. I love the mix of furniture and the contemporary paintings on the walls. 


The Family Dining Room (above & below) got an update with striped wallpaper and Robert Mangold artworks from the 1960’s above an antique sideboard. 



A beautiful and calming Master Suite for the first couple. 


One corner of the Master Suite with artwork by Giorgio Morandi.


The Family Sitting Room (above & below) also has a beautiful mixture of antique and contemporary artwork and mirrors on the walls. The room is very warm with the grasscloth on the walls and the brown and beige color scheme of the room. 



The Old Family Dining Room is home to two amazing modern pieces of art, one by Robert Rauschenberg on the left and one by Alma Thomas on the right. They bring a modern touch and wonderful color to a very traditional room. 


This may be the greatest room of them all, The Solarium on the roof has to be a wonderful and much-needed getaway for everyone in the first family. 

Information and images
are courtesy of
Architectural Digest.

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