March 30th, 2009
02:41 PM ET
6 years ago

Obamas to use own cash to redecorate White House

The current Oval Office rug cost over $60,000 and was designed by former first lady Laura Bush.
The current Oval Office rug cost over $60,000 and was designed by former first lady Laura Bush.

(CNN) - The Obamas are using their own money to redecorate the White House residence and Oval Office, the White House confirms, forgoing the $100,000 in federal funds that is traditionally allotted to new presidents for such renovation projects.

The first couple - who made well over $2 million in 2008, largely from book revenues - is also turning down money from the White House Historical Association, the organization that financed a $74,000 set of china for the Bushes.

New presidents have traditionally undertaken extensive redecoration efforts to their personal quarters reflect their own tastes, with a new Oval Office rug tradition ringing in as the priciest item. Former President George W. Bush spent over $60,000 on a new cream carpet designed by Laura Bush in 2000 to replace the deep blue rug that covered the space during the Clinton administration. Obama aides have said the president likes the Bush rug, and does not plan to replace it.

The decision to forgo federal funds, first reported by New York Magazine, is the president's latest belt-tightening move amid the sagging economy and widespread outrage over corporate excesses. Late last month, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced the administration had put an order on hold for a fleet of new helicopters that will cost at least $11 billion.

But it remains unclear just how much money the couple plan to spend on redecorations. In January, the Obamas tapped high-profile interior designer Michael Smith to spearhead the project.

In accepting the position, Smith said affordability would be one of the "guiding principles."

"The family's casual style, their interest in bringing 20th Century American artists to the forefront and utilizing affordable brands and products will serve as our guiding principles as we make the residence feel like their home," he said.


Filed under: White House
soundoff (364 Responses)
  1. Harry

    wow, just wow!

    March 30, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I can't wait to hear the republicans bash the First Family for this.

    March 30, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. oh my....

    Wait, wait, wait. He made over $2 million last year, so he is a member of the evil filthy rich capitalist group that is ruining American society then right?

    March 30, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    "Obama aides have said the president likes the Bush rug, and does not plan to replace it."

    Thereby depriving the rug manufacturer of $60,000 worth of business. As far as I'm concerned, that would be a far better use of $60k of "stimulus" than giving it, no strings attached, to a moribund, mismanaged, company.

    March 30, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Takeshi

    i wonder how people will get angry at this mmmmm? No way you can. Jesus people dont u see this man loves his job and is for real

    March 30, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Demi

    I am sure the haters will also have a problem with this!

    March 30, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. Tim E

    Replacing the carpet should wait until he's house trained the new dog, and the press corps.

    March 30, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. republicans hate america

    sorry rush limbaugh party you will not be able to create phony outrage this time.

    March 30, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Kel

    Good for them.

    March 30, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Nomoreloonyleft

    Nothing more than a political stunt. If he was genuine about saving money, he would not have flown Air Force One to Colorad to sign a bill in front of the media. Sad thing is, all the egobamaniacs will lick this up.

    March 30, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. mc- atlanta

    I love it, conservatives will say GW was one of their own, yea right. GW can take a few pointers from Obama about wasting taxpayer money on decorations in the white house. Unreal.

    March 30, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Franky

    This is a disgrace to our tranquility. Heck, Thomas Jefferson did everyone bogus and took everything with him, he might as well take the White House with him. And Congress hooked up Madison for his belongings, that' the American Way! Even wen the British burned down everything Monroe snapped, heck yeah!! LOL!!

    This is a disgrace to our brethren and to our founding fathers, since when we cared about our money?? Ohh yeah, when the British here, LOL!!

    March 30, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. matt

    now theres change we can believe in using tax payers dollars to redecorate the white house

    March 30, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Mobius

    I bet he deducts the cost as a charitable donation – if he files his taxes. Maybe he should check with SecTreas first. I hear he knows how now.

    March 30, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Anthony R. Seta

    I agree – the rug purchased by Bush (with Laura's help) is really beautiful and does not need to be replaced. In fact, that's one of the coolest rugs I've ever seen.

    Obama is one cool and smart fella. I like this approach to using personal funds rather than pubic money from the treasury. Now if only the entire DC political culture could follow suit. Not very probable though, since it's so hard to give up all of those cool perks that can simply be charged to the people.

    March 30, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Former Republican

    God bless this wonderful couple!

    March 30, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. Ariana

    Good, that's my kind of president. Find a way to spin this one you crazy good-for-nothing Republicans!

    March 30, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. tired of the bs

    Alright, lets see the Obama bashing on this one. I know its coming.

    March 30, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  19. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Leading by example.

    March 30, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. DrFrann in Los Angeles

    Walking the talk. Gotta love him Intelligence, integrity and heart.

    March 30, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. John in Ohio

    Yay Obama. Proud to have them as representatives of our country.

    I'm sure Republicans will find a reason to blast this, ignoring Bush's past history. It's suddenly become acceptable for Republicans to criticize independently wealthy entrepenuers, so long as those entrepenuers are liberals.

    March 30, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. Morgan

    Good move, Mr. President. While I can't say I have loved every move in the first two months, I can say I think all the decision have been thought out and not just shot from the hip. I certainly appreciate that after the last eight years of shoot first ask questions later mentality.

    March 30, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. bill

    I'm waiting for the comments about how this either isn't news or that its another example of facism or socialism by wacky liberals trying to ruin the country and take over the wolrd.

    March 30, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. ck

    SMOKE SCREEN!!!

    Pay attention to other things that the O's are up to....

    Wake up America!

    March 30, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. George from Minneapolis

    President Obama has great character.

    March 30, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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