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September 01, 2010

Queer Eye for the Oval Office Guy

Knowing as she does that the only thing the Oink Cadre enjoy more than a good, rousing sex-and-relationships post is a good, rousing post about upholstery fabric and the virtues of contrasting welting, the Blog Princess has decided to pander to the prurient tastes of the assembled villainry by pouring over old photos of various Presidential Oval Office re-dos.

The current denizen of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave recently brought Change to the Oval Office in the form of monocromatic beige-and-cream. Apparently Mr. Excitement is not a big risk taker. But if you find yourself bored by all the creamy wonderfulness, you can always occupy your time by reading the Presidential rug:

If President Obama's visitors ever grow bored, they can always read the mottos woven into the border of the Oval Office's new rug.

There are five of them "of meaning to the president" on the outskirts of the traditional presidential seal, according to a White House spokesman, and definitely not from Disney. No "whistle while you work," in other words.

This is fare for troubled times, and the White House is, uh, very transparent about it all. The carpet-bound philosophies are:

• "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

• "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." (Martin Luther King Jr.)

• "Government of the people, by the people, for the people." (Abraham Lincoln)

• "No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings." (John F. Kennedy)

"The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us." (Theodore Roosevelt)

Love that last one...

0831newoval.jpg

The Blog Princess approves of the wallpaper - it's fresh and crisp. But she is not sure whose idea it was to have all four upholstered pieces covered in the same boring shade of light brown? Some punchier throw pillows and a color on the two Martha Washington chairs at the far end (perhaps that nice Williamsburg blue from the sofa pillow? Or navy?) would liven things up a bit.

And the coffee table has got to go. Every time she looks at it, she gets the munchies. "Duuuuuuuuuuude...."

bushII_office.jpg

Teh Shrub's decor is likewise restrained - no irrational exuberance here. It's hard to see in the photo but the drapes pick up the pale gold stripes on the Martha Washington chairs and both coordinate with the blue and gold border on the rug, pulling the room together nicely. Her only criticism is the cream pillows on the cream sofa. Booooooooor-ing! She would have found a snazzy blue-and-gold braid or silk cord to sew around them and thrown one or two small accent pillows on the sofa.

Bush_Cox_July162008.JPG

oval-office-c1996.jpg

Looking at the Clinton Oval Office, it's easy to see why the Chimperor-in-chief opted for the relatively sedate azure and gold scheme. The eye popping colors are enough to make a guy choke on his pretzel and that dark blue rug is just... wrong. The candy striped sofas, while undeniably perky (not to mention reminiscent of interns), are a tad much when combined with a bright blue rug and bright gold curtains. Hard on the eyes. Reminds me of a scene from LA Story where Harris Telemacher's tacky girlfriend describes her infallible method for putting outfits together: "Look away from the mirror and then look back suddenly. The first thing that catches your eye - earrings, necklace, scarf - take it off".

Sometimes, less is more.

oval-office-c1991.jpg

Bush I opts for a restrained blue and ivory scheme. Safe. Classy. *Yawn*

President_Reagan_alone_in_the_Oval_Office_1984.jpg

Reagan kept the divine red curtains from his predecessor but (photo below) lost the rug. I like the red throw pillows and the red border around the Presidential Seal on the rug. I could have wished for a touch of color on those chairs in front of the fireplace, though.

oval-office-reagan-replica-495x363.jpg

More coming up!

oval-office-1977-meir.jpg

Jimmy Carter didn't redecorate, but he did shuffle the sofas and chairs around a bit. Note that wing chairs have replaced the Martha Washington occasional chairs (they were moved to the front of the office).

oval-office-ford-replica.jpg

Gerald Ford's redo. The color seems off in this photo - the gold was more of an apricot in other photos I've seen. Will withhold further commentary to allow BillT to weigh in.

oval-office-nixon.jpg

What the hell???

Oh. It's Nixon. Blue rugs should be permanently banned from the Oval Office and anyone who suggests having one made should be taken out and summarily shot.

That is all.

oval-office-johnson-replica.jpg

Johnson: the pale-blue-and-ivory scheme is back and more snooze inducing than ever. Not sure what's going on with the vaguely Roman Empire-looking decor.

oval-office-1969.jpg

Interesting curtains. I like the trim but a room with high ceilings really needs more fabric.

oval-office-kennedy.jpg

Just when you thought that nothing could be more heinous than the Curse of the Blue Rug, along comes JFK with.... red. This is a crime against the textile industry.

Also, rollup shades on the windows? Really? Same curtains but this time with red trim. To match that enticing shade of red underfoot.

oval-office-1963-nw.jpg

Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! My eyes!

oval-office-1962.jpg

Truman goes for the tried-and-true pale blue and ivory, but adds some interest with black and gold Hitchcock chairs. A small slice of Americana.

oval-office-c1956-s.jpg

More pale blue (Eisenhower), accented with crimson this time. And is that... color on the walls? It sure looks like it. I would have left the crown molding white.

oval-office-c1956-n.jpg

Note that pretty much all the furniture has been moved up around the President's desk.

oval-office-c1936.jpg

FDR's office in 1936. Reminiscent of The Red Room. But things are about to get a whole lot more sinister....

oval-office-fdr-replica.jpg

"Ve haff vays off makink you submit to our Imperial will!"

Well, that's about it for today's Queer Eye for the Presidential Guy. If you really want a good laugh though, check out these designer suggestions for the Obama redo.

My fave? This groovy take on 21st century hope and change:

GD9576754@Oval-Office-redes-8574.jpg

Louise Hellman: 1. Pull-out Iraq map. 2. Kenyan hardwood abacus to regulate the economy. 3. Carbon-zero stove fed on old Bush climate change policies. 4. Cold war buffet. 5. Bulletproof steel desk. 6. Basketball apparatus. 7. Psychiatrist's couch for healthcare dreams analysis. 8. Car seats donated by greatful automobile industry. 9. CND rug to promote nuclear disarmament. 10. Afghan prayer mat for visiting prime ministers

I think the bullet proof desk sets just the right tone. I don't know about you but I am really feeling the love.

Many thanks to the White House Museum for providing several of the photos used in this post. Also, this site.

Posted by Cassandra at September 1, 2010 08:10 AM

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Comments

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Posted by: Texan99 at September 1, 2010 09:51 AM

I like the desk.

I agree with the tetch of color on the chairs from the Gipper's admin, or, a daring dash of contrast along the chair rails.

The coffee table should echo the Martha Washington chairs.


Posted by: Cricket at September 1, 2010 10:10 AM

Holy Crap! Was Jackie Kennedy's taste really that awful!?!?

The Obama's make-over gets it about 80% there and then just dies of boredom. It's the drapes, dear. They' ve framed the most enchanting aspect of the space with colors borrowed from a Holiday Inn. I suppose that Obama has good reason to be frightened of allowing a bit of red-state red to compete with our nation's banner, but still, a little venetian red in the room would make it less, um, aloof?

Posted by: spd rdr at September 1, 2010 10:16 AM

Will withhold further commentary to allow BillT to weigh in.

Oh, *now* all of a sudden I'm the fabric expert? After you so airily dismissed my suggestion that the ecru suede vest and mini combo over your fleshtone fishnet body stocking would be *perfect* for your panel appearance at the BlogWorld Expo?

I don't *think* so...

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2010 10:25 AM

Ppppphhhhttttthhhhh :)

After you so airily dismissed my suggestion that the ecru suede vest and mini combo over your fleshtone fishnet body stocking would be *perfect* for your panel appearance at the BlogWorld Expo?

Here in the United States of Obama, we do not torture...

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2010 10:44 AM

I actually like the Obama redo, but hate the coffee table. If he wanted modern, I can think of all kinds of ones that would have worked. Or he could even have gone with something funky and Oriental or African. You can have fun with a coffee table but that one is kind of blecccch.

I think I might have covered the MW chairs in navy leather, if he had to have leather. He's got a navy border in the rug and that would have pulled it out a bit.

I don't mind monocrome color schemes but you need a bit of black or red or some other color to punctuate them.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2010 10:50 AM

Here in the United States of Obama, we do not torture...

Well, the chestnut naugahyde on the MW chairs is *killing* me...

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2010 10:54 AM

Yeah, that is pretty bad.

It has a vaguely 70s air about it.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2010 11:03 AM

Bland and boring, like the "Minnesota Mild Salsa", made especially with green peppers for added heat.

I'd start with the Reagan office, and then redder drapes, wallpaper in some random pattern, maybe with vine-like tendrils, light green & light blue & white. The carpet needs to be figured; that's too much area to be solid. Perhaps two oval carpets, to show off more of the floor, one near the windows with the desk, a larger one with the sofas (and I'd have three of them, with ottomans and end tables rather than the coffee table.)

Posted by: htom at September 1, 2010 11:10 AM

I like the Reagan curtains, the GWBush sunburst rug, the Obama sofas, and the Clinton coffee table.
Would change the leather chairs from red to brown to go with red curtains.

Posted by: Fausta at September 1, 2010 11:29 AM

....if he had to have leather.

Oh my! You aren't implying that when union representatives come calling on the president they should be allowed to sit on the fabric sofas!

Posted by: spd rdr at September 1, 2010 11:39 AM

I am a neanderthal when it comes to design. Can I sit in it or put something on it is as far as I get. My dear wife on the other hand, has refined taste that only requires me to exert my wallet hand.

Posted by: Russ at September 1, 2010 11:42 AM

Maybe there shouldn't be sofas and chairs at all? There's a pile of research that shows meetings go better if people are standing, and some that shows that sitting is bad for your health. Leather upholstered treadmills?

Posted by: htom at September 1, 2010 11:42 AM

The stool underneath JFK's desk has too tall of legs....no head room at all.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at September 1, 2010 11:54 AM

What I like about all of them is you can play "Spot the Remington" in most of the pictures. I do believe that is "Bronc Buster" in the second pic on the left side of the Obama decor.

Posted by: Allen at September 1, 2010 12:00 PM

*shaking head*

I am wondering whether Bo is allowed on the sofas?

Russ, the Unit and I have a running battle over the decor at Villa Cassandranita. It goes something like this:

HIM: Why did you put the TV set over THERE?

MOI: What??? You mean "shoehorned in behind the sofa where it is impossible to see the screen unless you are a double jointed midget with x-ray vision"?

HIM: Umm... yeah. Something like that.

MOI: Dear, the TV set has wires. And I do not like wires to be visible in my living room. It disturbs my sense of wa (inner harmony).

HIM: Yes, I understand that but it seems to me that the entire point of having a TV set in the LR is that people could actually wa...

MOI: Sweetie, you are a man and really don't understand very much about Feng Shui or interior decorating. All I ask is that you trust my judgment in this small matter of the television set.

HIM: But IT'S THE ONLY TV SET IN THE HOUSE! How am I supposed to watch the Redskins get creamed if I can't see the TV? Why did you even MAKE me buy a large screen TV if you don't want me to watch it?

MOI: Don't you have somewhere you need to be? Like, say, Afghanistan?

HIM: I am beginning to believe that would be more relaxing... (wanders off in search of a cold beer)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2010 12:03 PM

Rewire the house.

We have decided to eliminate monitors, as they offend my sense of being. I feel like a character out of 1984.

We are looking into a projector unit. Much less expensive, you just paint the wall, and mount the projector and Bose system where you want them to do the most good.

That should, hopefully, eliminated DJNS (double joint neck syndrome).

Of course, this will not happen until the front porch is redone.

Posted by: Cricket at September 1, 2010 12:27 PM

The point of the Oval Office is to intimidate visitors with the power of the United States President. The decor should boldly assist.

Clinton's rug. Reagan's curtains. Dump the Comfy-Chair-style couches - they should be FORMAL like your Grandma has. Maybe even with lace doilies on the arms (plastic slip covers might be a bit much, depends on the visitor and whether you want them to feel welcome (lose them when Queen Elizabeth visits) or not (use them when that nut from Iran drops by, and plastic carpet runners, too - wipe your feet you peasant).

.

.

Posted by: Joe Doakes at September 1, 2010 12:30 PM

@BillT: How many naugas did it take to cover the chair?

Posted by: Cricket at September 1, 2010 12:30 PM

make that from brown to red.

Posted by: Fausta at September 1, 2010 12:37 PM

This conversation, by the way, is more evidence why women shouldn't be allowed anywhere near political power, including the franchise.

Your commenters don't seem to understand that the whole point of the White House - indeed, of Washington, DC itself - is to Impress and Intimidate foreign visitors. That's not accomplished by warm and fluffy decor. It needs to be bold and powerful. Midnight Blue and Blood Stripe Red with Gold accents and lots of finished hardwood. That's a Powerful Man's office.

Sadly, Obama's redo fits his masculinity level perfectly. No wonder the mullahs aren't quaking in their sandals. No strong horses around here.

Posted by: joe doakes at September 1, 2010 12:45 PM

This conversation, by the way, is more evidence why women shouldn't be allowed anywhere near political power, including the franchise.

And people ask me why I drink...

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2010 12:48 PM

How many naugas did it take to cover the chair?

I estimate it took the hydes of three full-grown naugas to cover each one, Cricket. The horruh...

And people ask me why I drink...

I certainly hope you don't *answer* those sort of e-mails.

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2010 01:11 PM

***
I hope George Bush 43 had the oval office rugs removed and burned after he moved in. After Bubba Clinton and Monica's "redecoration" efforts there--new carpet seems like a winner.
***
Rocketman
***

Posted by: John Bibb at September 1, 2010 01:23 PM

Well, when it comes to Impressing and Intimidating the Ferengi I think an aircraft carrier in Navy gray does nicely.

The person's office decor who can send it, really is a bit of a sideshow. But, that's just me.

Posted by: Allen at September 1, 2010 01:23 PM

I know why Clinton picked the hideous striped sofas....

Stripes hide stains.

Posted by: Sharp Right Turn at September 1, 2010 01:38 PM

I thought for sure this was going to be about Chris Matthews.

Posted by: NeoKong at September 1, 2010 01:39 PM

If His Obamian Majesty wants to project "Americana" in the Oval Orifice, nothing says it like this:

http://blog.humuhumu.com/2006/09/02/virtual-tour-of-elvis-jungle-room

Posted by: MarkJ at September 1, 2010 01:41 PM

Ah...Joe, you haven't been around here at VC for very long, have ya, hon?

Well, BillT, I think you need to get us a pic of the elusive Iraqi Nauga. I want to reupholster the Precious and the Captain's Yacht.

I just love exotic leathers.

As to 'redecorating' after BillC and Monica had their way with each other...I would have sent in a bio hazard team with a flame thrower.

But, I think W's understated backdrop served as counterpoint to his demeanor, so the bio-hazard team with the flamethrower would have been a tad overboard.

W. was just classy.

Posted by: Cricket at September 1, 2010 02:09 PM

Earth tones. So he's channeling his inner Naomi Wolf and doing the Alpha Male.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at September 1, 2010 02:56 PM

I have to disagree with you about those tables between the sofas. The only one truly bad is the oval one--too hard to reach from the ends of the sofas. And the sofas need to be moved closer to the table between them--how else can my friends and I comfortably kick back and put our feet up on the table? Isn't that what a table in front of a sofa is for?

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 1, 2010 03:04 PM

Chimperor ? Really?

Posted by: denise at September 1, 2010 03:10 PM

the sofas need to be moved closer to the table between them--how else can my friends and I comfortably kick back and put our feet up on the table? Isn't that what a table in front of a sofa is for?

Eric, you ignorant man slut :) You are beginning to sound like the Spousal Unit. Err... isn't there somewhere you need to be right now?

*running away*

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2010 03:11 PM

Denise, I'm probably Bush's biggest fan on the planet :)

I used to make fun of BDS sufferers by mocking some of the dumber names they called him.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2010 03:13 PM

So he's channeling his inner Naomi Wolf and doing the Alpha Male.

Oh. dear. Lord. Please don't tell me he's going to grow a beard and start using Just for Men. I don't think I could stand that.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 1, 2010 03:14 PM

Well, BillT, I think you need to get us a pic of the elusive Iraqi Nauga.

Here ya go, Cricket.

http://www.fototime.com/FE6CF2281C8170B/orig.jpg

The stealthy beast will turn the tables on the hunter every chance it gets...

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2010 03:34 PM

Please don't tell me he's going to grow a beard...

You're making the rash assumption that he *could*...

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2010 03:54 PM

My dear lady, I have never asked you why you drink. I might have asked you why you didn't drink more however.

Cricket, build your next home and run all the wiring in the floor. The hard part is to not change your mind once you run the wire.

Posted by: Russ at September 1, 2010 04:00 PM

Ok...now I understand. Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: Denise at September 1, 2010 04:40 PM

A real nowhere Oval Office for a real nowhere man.

Posted by: Peggy at September 1, 2010 04:51 PM

Funny, no one ever asks me why I drink.

Posted by: Texan99 at September 1, 2010 05:08 PM

Huh. People ask me why I *don't* drink...

...more.

Posted by: BillT at September 1, 2010 05:18 PM

Heh. I am sitting at CFC, or Control Freak Central. The wall above it is the perfect spot for the Home Theatre that can channel the intarwebs as well as whatever else *we* want to subscribe to.

The wiring is already in place.

I was referring to Castle Cassandrita for the rewiring...

Posted by: Cricket at September 1, 2010 05:36 PM

Eric, you ignorant man slut :) ...Err... isn't there somewhere you need to be right now?

Yeah, in the oval office with my buds--I mean my advisors--my feet up on the table and a beer on my belly, figuring out what to do about economy, the Russkies--I mean the Iranians, and....

Oh, and on your way back from your run, could you bring us another beer? There's a....

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 1, 2010 05:41 PM

That Obumble had:

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people." (Abraham Lincoln)

woven into the carpet just about defines the word "irony".

Posted by: Grumpy Old Ham at September 1, 2010 05:59 PM

More images of the illusive Nauga. We (that is, my parents) had one of these in the sixties, body about the size of a basketball but flatter, came as a promo item with a sofa.

Posted by: htom at September 1, 2010 06:19 PM

Very interesting, thanks.

Posted by: Jane at September 1, 2010 07:21 PM

So Obama plays storm trooper?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 1, 2010 07:44 PM

Looks like the obamas shopped at "Rent-A- Center" to redecorate to oval office.. only thing missing is the velvet Angela Davis Painting.

Posted by: Stephen E Morgan at September 1, 2010 09:24 PM

Personally, all of it reminds me of my doctor's office when I was a kid. Ick.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at September 1, 2010 09:46 PM

I submit that either of these quotes would be better for the rug:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge--and more.

and/or (but too long)
... my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

From the same speech; it's hard to chop those final paragraphs for length and keep both meaning and intensity.

Posted by: htom at September 1, 2010 11:03 PM

1. Should have more blue, because it's very navel.
2. The missing quote is probably "Hey guys, watch me do this ..."

Cheers

Posted by: J.M. Heinrichs at September 2, 2010 12:16 AM

"The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us." (Theodore Roosevelt)

Somebody needs to tell him "welfare" in that context doesn't mean what he thinks it means.

Posted by: BillT at September 2, 2010 02:15 AM

Sooooo.....he's channelling his inner Inigo Montoya?

Posted by: DL Sly at September 2, 2010 07:32 AM

So, first off, I have no business in this discussion. My decorating tastes tend towards the functional, and I have all the fashion sense of a frat boy (though I never was in a frat). So my gut instincts say upholster everything in digital camo and throw up some camo netting across the ceiling for the ultimate rugged look. But honestly, any of those rooms would have gone untouched by me, the only thing I'd insist on would be a beer fridge.

However, if you held a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd go with Johnson's or Truman's layout.

Posted by: MikeD at September 2, 2010 09:32 AM

I would have to go with Reagan's office. I really liked the red curtains!!! His office fits our great country.(C - age 11)

Posted by: Crystal at September 2, 2010 11:56 AM

Hm...what about keeping it to the original look?
Early Federal period?

Otherwise, I like Truman's look. Wasn't he a seller of men's clothing in his former life?

The man would know style.

Just an observation.

Posted by: Cricket at September 2, 2010 03:21 PM

Speaking of style, check your e-mail for a certain style of movie poster...

Posted by: BillT at September 2, 2010 04:57 PM

Otherwise, I like Truman's look. Wasn't he a seller of men's clothing in his former life?

Haberdasher?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at September 3, 2010 05:47 PM

Outstanding work Cassandra. Great comments as well.
Linked! Have a great Labor Day weekend!
http://mindnumbedrobot.com/2010/09/04/labor-day-robo-love/2669

Posted by: mnrobot at September 4, 2010 06:53 PM

Hysterical post and great comments. Thanks for going to all the trouble to round up the photos. I really enjoyed the retrospective and they do prove that they could have done worse. Much worse.

I don't mind the redo but I think it's mostly bland and inoffensive (which I'm sure is exactly what they were going for).

The only thing I want to take a baseball bat to is the coffee table. Ugh! It looks like something a college kid picked up off the side of the road and plunked down in the middle of his first apartment.

The apples still confuse me. If you're in a meeting with the president are you really going to pick up an apple and start noshing away? I hope not!

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Posted by: Sabrina at September 8, 2010 04:42 AM

I bet the designers got a good deal on the neutrals that Algore had picked out when he thought the chads were going in his favor.

Plus, you know that Odumbo can't be so flyover country as to use a traditional color scheme.

Posted by: Sen Fuller Bull - D at September 8, 2010 09:19 AM

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