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. Missy M.

    In the end, who cares if other people don't like it? It's Obama's office. He can decorate it anyway he wants just like his predecessors decorated it the way they wanted to. For the vast majority of us, we'll never step foot inside that office, so really, we shouldn't give a hoot what it looks like.

    September 2, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Gale

    Not to mention the cost, when the US is in a recession. This doesn't count the cost for Mrs. Obama's little visit to Spain and the Ritz Carlton. But of course I'd forgotten they are America's Royalty......NOT

    September 2, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. John

    Really, is this "widely" criticized? And it's his office. So what? I love it.

    September 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. James Brooklyn N.Y.

    Don,t we have bigger issues to tackle?

    September 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Ed

    A design team swooped in and in less than 10 days – while the president and First Family were away on Martha's Vineyard

    Take heed America, the answer is here. Remodel the rest of the White House until January 20, 2013. This could keep him out until the new President take the oath of Presidency.

    It's really worth a try.

    September 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Midwest

    What a waste. An ecological waste of a perfectly good rug and furniture. Just because other presidents have done it doesn't make it right. He and his liberal cronies ought to know better. Not very 'green' if you ask me.

    September 2, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. JakeF

    Criticized? Why? Because EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENT has changed the decor in that room to make it his own?

    OR perhaps that it was paid for by private funding.

    This is not news. It's the Gossip Network.

    September 2, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Dave

    Seriously? Now he's being attacked for his sense of interior design? Some people need to get a life.

    September 2, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. BL09

    I LOVE the makeover. I went back and looked at the pictures of how it used to be. It looked like a little old lady's living room with the Bush version (no offense meant). Now it seems more calm and comfortable. Gosh – there has to be enough stress going on in that room at all times – I'd want a more calm and soothing decor too! Kudos to the designers and good for President Obama – he deserves it.

    September 2, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  10. Living in America

    Wow every President has decorated the Oval office. Give me a break. Now watch some idiot says the oil blasted 5 minutes ago and the President was not there. I wanna hear what folks are going to say now by blocking his 6 month ban on drilling.

    September 2, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  11. bfranklin

    How can someone who was so astute and in tune with the American people during a campaign, be so deaf to them now. In a time when a to of Americans are struggling, the Obamas seem to be flaunting that they are above it all. Multiple vacations, numerous rounds of golf, and now remodeling a room that probably did not need it. I wonder what teh sticker price on that little change was.

    September 2, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. Toni - Atlanta

    More criticism. So, what else is new?!!

    September 2, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. Jeff in Virginia

    after reading the top two posts on this ticker- this one with a horrible hatchet job using the "some say" couching, and the next talking about Sarah Palin's win/loss ratio, i am left with a real question-

    when did CNN start playing like Fox?

    September 2, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Reed Robertson

    Don't we have a $13Trillion Dollar national debt to pay for?

    September 2, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. Liz

    Who Cares!!! We, as a country, have a lot more important thing to think about than if we like Mr Obama's new decor....

    September 2, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Voice of Reason

    Because, as everybody knows – the future of our nation rests in the hands of the White House decorators...

    Jeez – what next? Is there a smoke-filled room somewhere with these sorts of conversations going on? "We didnt beat him on issues, so let's imply he was born in Kenya!" "No, Tried that, he's got that dang 'Certificate of Live Birth, whatever that is... But we can imply that he's really a Muslim!" "Naw, you cant really prove or disprove someone's faith, and we might alienate our own faith-based base... Lets go after him for his taste in curtains!"

    Pathetic.

    September 2, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. Jerry Shinn

    Not sure why the redesign is a problem. I do think it needs a more business like look since it IS the office of the Chief Executive of the largest free nation in the world. Such an office is NOT a family place, it is a place where important decisions concerning the running of this country are made. Not romper room or the family TV room. Just my opinion.

    September 2, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. Brian, NJ

    Bill Clinton would have loved those couches

    September 2, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Voice of Reason

    I dont know about YOU, but it still looks a heck of a lot better than MY office...

    September 2, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    I think is looks wonderful !! I love the colors and the wallpaper..They look very warm and modern casual, which I feel is a big plus..And I bet the press and others did not bother to comment when prev Pres did this..No matter that all prev Pres have done this..This is traditional..But of course as always when Pres Obama does something everyone has to comment..If I were the pres I wouldn't waste my time commenting because frankly its none of their business !!

    September 2, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  21. BinMESA

    widely criticized – by who? I wait for the the same people to criticize the type of toilet paper this administration uses.
    I am an independent and not happy with the current administration. That does not mean I am going to vote Republican this year.

    All I can say is PLEASE!!

    September 2, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. Lois Rosby

    Give me a break!! There are far too many more important things going on in the world for there to be a report on the Oval Office makeover being criticized. Every president has done it!!

    September 2, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. Maryland

    A trap for Monica L. or a new White house aid.

    September 2, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Chuck

    Why is this news?

    September 2, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. Iowa Chris

    I love it! It has a warm and welcome look, and a comfortable place to be now that work is actually being done there for the first time in years. I thought the previous look was cold and stiff and uncomfortable like one of those rooms that is just for show which is pretty much what it was.

    September 2, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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