September 2nd, 2010
02:18 PM ET
10 years ago

Oval Office makeover widely criticized

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/02/art.ovaloffice.jpg caption="The makeover of the Oval Office has been widely panned in press reports and on the blogosphere for being too casual."]
Washington (CNN) - The makeover of the Oval Office has been widely panned in press reports and on the blogosphere for being too casual and for its bland color palette but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs doesn't expect President Obama to weigh in anytime soon.

Related:The Oval Office gets a makeover

"I have not heard him give a review on the reviews," Gibbs said, when asked what the president thought about his new office at Thursday's press briefing.

A design team swooped in and in less than 10 days – while the president and First Family were away on Martha's Vineyard – transformed the president's office from a traditional and somewhat formal setting to a more modern family-style room.

There's a new signature oval rug, leather desk chair, two overstuffed light brown couches, a walnut and mica coffee table with modern lines, two blue ceramic lamps and blue accent pillows on the couch, reupholstered furniture, and handmade striped wallpaper.


But history did not go out the door in this redesign. The president held onto the historic Resolute desk, paintings, and other art work he added when he came into office.

Usually every president puts his personal stamp on the Oval Office with a redesign early in the administration. Up until now, President Obama has been working in an office designed for then-President George W. Bush, complete with formal cream floral couches, traditional furniture, off-white walls and a sunburst oval rug.

Obama's newly designed rug was produced and donated by Scott Group Custom Carpets, the same company that designed the former President Bill Clinton's Oval Office rug. Obama's rug is wheat-colored with accents of cream and blue. Lining the border are historical quotes that were handpicked by President Obama, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and four former presidents.
In an apparent effort to head off criticism, the White House pointed out that all of the materials and furniture came from U.S.-based companies, and that taxpayers won't foot the bill.

These kinds of projects have always been funded by the White House Historical Association, with money from the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

The White House would not reveal the final price tag, but said it is comparable to what the two former presidents spent on their Oval Office makeovers.


Filed under: White House
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Eric

    Don't forget the recent addition of a bust statue of Karl Marx.

    I hear they also installed a Soma dispenser.

    September 2, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Dale

    Looks like the living room at my mother-in-law's retirement home.

    September 2, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. Minnesotan

    I don't care what they did to renovate the Oval Office. It needed a total fumigation after the Bush / Cheney / cockroach invasion!

    September 2, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Frankie

    No doubt this is a socialist color scheme. Hmm ... then why do the Republicans use red, the communist color?

    September 2, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. NorCalMojo

    Nothing says power and authority like beige, beige and beige.

    September 2, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Baker

    It looks ridiculous.

    September 2, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. montag

    Anybody care to bet on how soon Rush Limbaugh or FOX News will be claiming that the new Oval Office carpet is really a Moslem prayer rug?

    September 2, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. Cindy

    What's wrong with casual? Casual is better than stuffy.

    September 2, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  9. Eli

    Wasn't it Barrack Hussein Obama who rightfully criticized the CEO of Merill Lynch for wasting money on his office at a time when many companies were being propped up with government Tarp money and millions of people were out of work? How is this any different?

    Oh no, he dih-it!

    September 2, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. Jerry - Florida

    Hey, it's only tax-payer money. What else can we expect?

    September 2, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. Flounder

    Wonder how much bailout money will Obama abscond with for this rumpus room makeover?

    September 2, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    EVERY PRESIDENT from George W. Bush all the way back to Washington has decorated or re-decorated the Oval Office. Why is this even news?

    September 2, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Thank you Mr. President for getting the stinch of stupidity out of the Oval Office left behind from the previous President. I love the new carpet!

    September 2, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. Squiggs

    If the makeover wsa lavish then they would have been bitching about how could he spend the money in thie economy.

    September 2, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. Mark from Louisiana

    For $900,000 seems like they would have gotten the quotes done correctly, which they didn't. The one from MLK was actually from someone else, MLK read it in a speech.

    September 2, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Strongbow

    As long as tax payers are not footing the bill, what's the big deal? He's the one that has to work in it. Looks nice, but not my style. Molehill issue, IMO

    September 2, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. K. Parks, Franklin TN

    The new look for the Oval Office is comfortable, pleasant, and somewhat casual. Now I wish President Obama would address the nation more often from that room, and without a teleprompter. He doesn't need one. During the campaign debates and at town hall meetings, he expressed himself beautifully off the cuff. He should know that it's okay to pause to think of the right word, look down at notes, not be word-perfect. That sounds more human. Someone commented that she "enjoys hearing him think." The country needs to hear that side of our president more often.

    September 2, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. Lucas Breen

    I think it looks great. I have the same kind of look in my living room.

    September 2, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. Tall Ed

    I like it. It's not what I would have done but it's not bad.

    September 2, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. Rush Goebbels

    It looks really good now.Glad that stupid dog of Bushs is gone,hope they sent him back to scottland with the rest of the insane people.

    September 2, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. True American

    Here come all the repubs in...3...2...1..

    remember guys the decorating doesn't mean he's a muslim. 🙂

    September 2, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  22. mj

    How cozy ... Sure hope he does not get too comfortable. There is no way he would win another term.

    September 2, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Proud member of "Gobal Zero"

    I like it much better now than that bright yellow. Do you not even watch "Sell this House". I really like the decor...it is very homey

    September 2, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. Karen

    Not a good look, to informal for the Oval Office.

    September 2, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  25. john

    Now Obama is ready to host The View at the oval office instead of going to their set!! Maybe he should start his own talk show!!!

    September 2, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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