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. Mary Rogers

    I think the make-over of the Oval Office is extremely tasteful, and appropriate for the President. It's colors are strong, but neutral enough to not be over-powering. You don't have to have bold colors to make a strong statement.

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

    Does not surprise me people are complaning – it looks comfortable, not over the top AND DID NOT COST THE TAXPAYERS ONE DIME.
    So shut up and find something else to be critical about!

    September 2, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. Lisa

    I agree, too casual, plus it's ugly and boring! Does not reflect the dignity of the office at all!

    September 2, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Dar

    This is stupid.
    All presidents add their own touches and we all have our own taste about what we like.
    You dont live there, so If you dont like it, dont go there. It's not your house.

    September 2, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. ToGetherWeStand

    The title for this article is misleading. Who would criticize our president for following suit with what all of his predecessors?

    September 2, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Marge

    Gee whiz when George and Laura Bush made over the Oval Office with their rug and the new furniture there was nary a word. AND THAT WAS DURING TWO WARS WITH OUR MILITARY FIGHTING AND DYING OVERSEAS. You all remember those two wars Bush started. I think you do, but then if the republicans do it, the republicans two faced critics think it is OK, but golly gee double whiz, don't let a Democrat do the same thing that is wrong wrong wrong.

    Those republicans, showing over and over and over how much of a hypocrite they are...it's expected. they all are.

    September 2, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  7. Donalyn

    I like it a lot. If I had a hectic, high-stress, powerful position, I would find this decor creates a particularly nurturing and soothing environment in which to work efficiently; if I were a guest in that office I would feel quite at my ease, which also facilitates effeciency. People think more clearly and communicae more effectively when they are relaxed and comfortable. Seems like that's what an office is for, right? The apples are a great touch, but to paraphrase another reviewer – who's going to pick up and eat an apple in front of the president, and where would you put the core?

    September 2, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  8. keeth in california

    President's office, President's prerogative. Period. End of non-story.

    September 2, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. ConcernedVoter

    WHO CARES??? Why do people feel like they have to weigh in on the furniture in the President's office? Why is this news?

    September 2, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Gary Street

    People need to get a life. The design of the President's office should not a concern of anyone else than the President. Americans...GROW UP!

    September 2, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. Glenn

    And all at the cost of the Taxpayer. Maybe that money could have been better spent elsewhere.

    September 2, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Ben

    Again the Obama's show just how out of touch they are with mainstream Americans.

    September 2, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Danny

    Wow! Wholesomely Brilliant! Lets woe our nations weathly "important" guests and obamas shady eyes with a new makeover! This is totally just what we need when millions are struggling, my friends are in the street and every normal person is trying to keep their sanity and what little profit we make! We would be lucky to get just a makeover of our food cabinet! Sounds GREAT. Like that room REALLY needed it.
    Sounds great obama! I bet our TAX dollars paid for that too!

    September 2, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. bj

    I like the office makeover, you didn't ask anyone I know. Alas, I guess it is some more dirt to rare up controversy.

    September 2, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. chelka

    Looks like some old folks basement.
    What a disgusting waste of money.
    But not to worry, the next "real" first family in 2012 will quickly send the stuff to Goodwill where it belongs.

    September 2, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. loretta

    Where was all the comments when BUSH did a makeover?????
    Why is EVERYTHING Obama does critized???????????????

    September 2, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. guest

    I think it is lovely, our President has a right to what he finds comfortable. My only complaint is that the gold tones look terrible on him. He has a lot of yellow and gold in his skin and he needs a contrast color, reds, blues, whites or black to really look good. I have too much pink in my skin and cannot wear reds or purples. I like to see him look good!!!

    September 2, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. rafael

    please can somebody tell me please,why would you care.now
    the President of your Country has to Ask the American peoples before
    making any change in the HW?
    thanks

    September 2, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. SYSPROG

    Really? REALLY??? PRESIDENT OBAMA has decorated the office where he spends a great deal of time to HIS liking and it's been widely PANNED??? JHC! Get a grip, SHUT UP and do something that will benefit the COUNTRY! This is stupid, irresponsible and plays into the notion that the 'news' is stupid and shallow.

    September 2, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. Nancy Amalfitano

    In my opinion, this new look is not appropriate for the Oval Office.

    September 2, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. Dave

    Let us hope this is the only "fundamental change" on the president's agenda that will ever materialize! The other items on the agenda are much more dangerous in transforming this country to something we do not want!!

    September 2, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. George

    Who cares? It seems that President Obama gets crap for everything he does (or in this case, what others did for him). It's his office, and it's not like he turned it into a mosque. It seems like the press and those on the right jump at every opportunity to make him look bad...I guess it sells advertising and wins elections?

    September 2, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. K. S.

    Did you mean "color pallette"? Because if the palate is bland then the problem is the food, not the decorations.

    September 2, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  24. ABM

    Any suprise here??????? Nope. I thought this would have come out right after the Oval Office speech.

    To the critics: He is not doing anything different than any other President. Get over it! He is THE President. Stop the whining and do something productive with your lives.

    September 2, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  25. P.J.

    Too casual? How about too fugly?

    September 2, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
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