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

Obamas to use own cash to redecorate White House

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. oh my....

    What I find amusing is the same people that bashed Bush non-stop for 8 years are now crying and whining about criticism of Obama.

    You get what you give, unless you are a welfare recipient, then you just vote for the giver of handouts.

    March 30, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. RF in Texas

    Funny...all those people leaving negative comments are conveniently forgetting how the Bush family so frivolously used our money, like the $74,000 china and $60,000 carpet they put in AT OUR EXPENSE. I applaud the Obamas for turning down federal funds and using their own money. Way to go Mr. President!

    March 30, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. HipHop

    For those who still question the spending and budget proposals of President Obama, ever heard the phrase .." you got to spend money to make money? " ....especially after the republicans left us with a debt from a do u sit there and criticize Obama now, yet where were you when your party was spending like crazy..hyprocrites.

    March 30, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Lee

    Could be they are redecorating it in a style that would not be acceptable to the tax payer's wallet.

    March 30, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Annette

    Yes am sure they will use their money – money received from more of the well connected corrupt officials and lobbyists he is already in bed with.

    March 30, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. Geo1

    Congratulations to the Obama family!

    March 30, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. yolanda

    What a wonderful gesture from the first family. Yet, people will still find fault or subtefuge. I guess living under the Bush's regime for the last eight years makes everyone a little suspicious. Who was more secretive than BUSH?

    March 30, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. my

    it is kind of hard to move to new place and not to have something of your own – your own style. If you like what is there, fine, but if you want something of your own? I guess I would take some of my things from my house I lived in before, I would add something new, and keep what i like from the new place.....but this is just me....

    March 30, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Tabeth


    Obama has the heart to help the country. If everyone put heart and shoulder behind him, we will be out of recession within a year.

    People are afraid that he be one of the greatest President.

    Please give honor to the one who deserves it!

    March 30, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. MaryanneAZ

    Unfortunately, the naysayers and haters will still CLAIM that the opposite is true of the White House redecoration funding. It seems that the evidence and facts have no impact on those who do not support our Nation's President. What a sad, sad Nation we have become. And, more importantly, where will we wind up with all of this ugliness weighing on the Nation like a cancer that is untreatable? I applaud the example of the Obamas and celebrate this particular gesture as one of the many reasons I voted for President Obama.

    March 30, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Ask me if I care

    So what – I pay for all my own stuff for my home? However, I bet somehow the taxpayer is really paying for it – we just don't know how.

    March 30, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Brian

    Seriously? It's a good thing to see. From a realistic view though; who cares? People are going to either like the president or dislike him regardless of what he does. Go to Fox and you'll see nothing but distaste and come to CNN and nothing but positive and all praising comments. I think it's not at all newsworthy when we have so much more going on.

    I agree with many of the comments; the President should do this and many haven't. It's a step I suppose but here we are...taking time out of our day to talk about crap that means nothing. Wow, I might as well be a journalist.

    March 30, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. seriously

    That's my boy for ya....gotta love him...God bless you Barack...You show them how it is to be done!!!

    No one needs a 70 000 dollar rug to live a comfortable life...can you believe it????

    March 30, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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