March 30th, 2009
02:41 PM ET
5 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. MD

    I think it sets a great example so I'm glad they have chosen to handle the redorating in that way. However, once again, there's this haunting double standard for President Obama and his family vs. all other American Presidents. I just can't help but wonder why that is???

    Hmmmm..

    March 30, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Stu-Florida

    This is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We all need more of the "wealthy" and especially those that have gained wealth from the pitfall of others, to take a stand... to give back...
    to show that lies, greed and collusion aren't the only fuel that fires America.

    Many CEOs should also offer a "Free for a Year" salary and bonus check. It will come back around that much sooner... without the lies, greed and collusion.

    WE must BE the change, we wish to see in the world- Gandhi

    March 30, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  3. ANGIE

    Great Mr President. Lead by example. And since they are spending THEIR OWN MONEY to redecorate the private quarters who cares how much they spend.

    March 30, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. LRW

    I would hope that he doesn't spend too much of his own money to redecorate since he will only get to live in the place for another 3 yrs and 9 months.

    March 30, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. Shirley in California

    Bravo Mr. President and First Lady. Setting a good example. IF only others had done this. Please republicans don't start. There is nothing you really can say. They are using THEIR own money for THEIR own taste.

    You make me proud to be an American.

    March 30, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. Gupta

    Classy move by a classy family. To those that are saying "he's wasting millions on bailouts so this is the least he could do" ask yourself why the country is in the position it's in? It's because of 8 years of Bush. He left you this mess, so don't hate Obama for cleaning up. We should all learn and be inspired by his "lead by example" attitude. God bless

    March 30, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. MEP

    If he wanted to use the money that is fine, it's part of the deal of being president. Although, I think it's great he is using his own money. He is sending a message he is trying to work with everyone to get over this hump. And I didn't vote for him.

    March 30, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. jesuino leduino rosa

    That is the way to go !!!!!!!!

    March 30, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Amir

    You can always lead by an example, and action speaks much, much louder than talking. Good job son of Hussein, amin... Mr President.

    March 30, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. Evan

    Wow! We've got a president that FINALLY walks the walk as he talks the talk.

    Every day, he proves the voters chose correctly.

    March 30, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. Oregon calling

    Way to go First Family. Lead by example.

    Peace :-)

    March 30, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. 35% of Americans are TRAITORS for wanting America to FAIL and 65% of Americans to SUFFER!

    Now that is indeed CHANGE you can believe in!

    Memo to MSM: If President Obama is using his own funds to redecorate the family areas of the White House, it is NONE of our business how much it will cost.

    74000 for china? The shrubs had one state dinner in 8 years? How tough were the guest on dishes?

    60,000 for a rug? Hopefully it would last more than 8 year! Sounds like the shrub just wanted to leave his impression on the White House since that world renown designer Laura Bush designed it! Also, he wanted to remove anything provided by Clinton, as I am sure his would have lasted for 8 more years, at these prices,

    I think if the Secret Service says the President needs new helicopters so be it, but 11 billion for I think 21 helicopters is a tad high. Hopefully the President's safety is not compromised.

    But I admire President Obama for saving us little guys wherever and whatever he can!

    Great job!

    March 30, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. Keith in CA

    Leadership by example. When was the last time we saw that from a President?

    March 30, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. David in Minneapolis

    BRAVO! Leadership through example!

    March 30, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. Cynthia

    100k is nothing. This is not a news story

    March 30, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  16. Crystal Clear

    I am sure Cindy McCain would have asked for the White House to be rebuild!

    March 30, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Hey, if they are doing this with their own money then who cares how much is spent. Crap, $74K for a set of China for the Bush's...? Now that's being a bit extravagent isn't it? And I bet that George and Laura took it with them too.

    March 30, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. Pepou

    The Obama family is an example to all of us. I love them.

    March 30, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. Dejah Thoris

    to BJ in Texas,

    Bush's inaugurations cost as much or more than Obama's did. The trouble is, the media didn't report all the security expenses for Bush's inauguration, although they did for Obama's. When you count all that up, Bush was a big spender. But you probably knew that and just wanted to vomit out some more hate and disrespect. Funny how all you right-wing vomit kings don't respect the president as you demanded we all do of the Bush when he was gutting the country. Wonder why that is?

    March 30, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. deedee

    goog job mr pres.

    March 30, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Saad from NJ

    Very good Mr. President. That's a respectful decision.

    March 30, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Priceless!

    March 30, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  23. dan

    Good. For. Them.

    Great example being set by President and Mrs. Obama. They make the country proud.

    March 30, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. Dan the Republican

    I certainly disagree on many things the Obama administration has done during its short duration to date, but I heartily applaud the President and First Lady here.

    And that is a pretty good-looking Oval Office rug. I would probably want to keep it, too.

    March 30, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Karl Rove

    Bush already "shagged" the American people for the last 8 years!!!

    Obama needs to look under the carpet for all the thing Bush swept under there!

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