It's FINALLY over and ____________ won! Hooray! So, can you tell that I write my posts in advance? I haven't the slightest clue who won the election, but I'm hoping his name rhymes with "Yo Mama." If so, then I heard he started measuring the drapes in the White House months ago (according to the Republican pundits, anyway). I certainly hope so, because The White House is looking tired from the wear and tear of the last eight looooooooooooong and harrowing years. Don't you think a little facelift for our nation's treasure, first inhabited by John Adams some 500 billion years ago, would bring a spring to the step of Americans everywhere? Shall we not cast off the grime and stench of fear and oppression (and an overwhelming use of floral chintz) and usher in a new era of class and dignity? Hellz yes, I say. Come with me and follow this sad tale of covering up perfectly good decor with schmaltzy crap just to make your mark in The White House. Hmm. Sounds like a metaphor for the story of this country. The next president has definitely got his work cut out for him.
Before George HW Bush, the historic Treaty Room remained unmolested since Jackie Kennedy's renovation of it from random parlor back to its original 19th century roots. Apparently a bunch of treaties were signed in the the Treaty Room. Go figure.
The green carpet is not my favorite, but it looks all presidential and stuff, whereas George the Senior's iteration of the Treaty Room looks like someone's half blind grandma decorated it (complete with a bunch of half blind grandpas).
The curtains are particularly bilious, and when combined with the medallion carpet, the overall impression sets my stomach to roiling. Also, why must they fill the room with a bunch of dark and patterned stuff, and then leave the walls naked?
The Treaty Room in the Clinton years, while still fussy, at least looked balanced. Dramatic paint helped a lot.
And it was definitely better than Bush the Current's version of this room, which painted over the Clinton red and went back to daddy's unstyle (Can't have the stink of good Clinton decisions hanging about, can we?).
Golly, aren't you going to miss this zany cast of characters?! But I bet you won't miss the crappy decor. Verdict: democrats are better decorators than republicans. Further evidence to be presented below.
Jackie Kennedy's master bedroom could easily grace the pages of decor glossies today. Contrast it with the Reagan's Ted Graber decorated version.
Dear Jeebus, it looks like a plague of locusts flew in, perhaps planning to carry that wimpy bed out the window with them. Horrid!
And then there's the sad transformation of this sitting room:
In the 50s, Eisenhower stuffed it full of bland furniture crammed into dark corners, and covered the best asset of the room with ugly curtains that pop out like a jack in the box
Would you ever have guessed that this gorgeous window lurked beneath those putrid curtains? Jackie Kennedy and decorator Stephane Boudin opened up the space with light and a color palette that feels fresh and contemporary, even today. Things went downhill from there.
In 1975, someone went a little hog wild with the yellow and flower prints, and by 2000, the transition from classic to stuffy was almost (but not quite) complete.
2006, yet ripped from the pages of a 1987 back issue of Southern Living, this room is out of scale and out of whack.
Sometimes the changes are more subtle, but equally ill advised. For example, the Red Room.
Here it is in the 50's, looking much like a bordello with that red damask wallpaper and the double entendre candelabras. Jackie took the hooker vibe down a notch while still preserving the red hot drama.
Jackie knew something about scale, fo sho. That painting looks so much better there, and I like that the curtains blend with the walls, because there's a lot going on in here. The chandelier is less fussy than above and I'm glad that nasty red carpet is gone, but I'm not super keen on its replacement. But wait!
Let's redecorate and keep the carpet, but eff everything else up!!! That painting is WAY too wee, and the curtains are so overblown that I have to stop myself from making more sex jokes. I wonder what Jackie must have thought about all this "sprucing up" of her much improved decor. Yes, these are current pictures.
At least a few of the improvements she made were so undeniably good that they could not be touched. She redid the Diplomatic room from this:
And it still looks the same today. I loooove the crazy mural wallpaper that stretches all the way around the room, and her use of yellow is surprising. Here's another yellow room she did:
Lots of color -- love the red chairs! -- and simple shapes, very little pattern. Cut to today:
Ewwwwww! The shapes got curvier and pouffier and everything got barfed on by pattern. And those drapes!!! The story of the White House seems to be one of terrifying fabric choices and completely overwhelming drapery. Hate it.
Just look at this hideous sitting room used by Ron and Nancy:
Need I say anything about this lovechild of Charlotte Moss and Mario Buatta? No. I need not. But to be nonpartisanish, the room wasn't much better when it served as JFK's bedroom.
Maybe Jackie decorated it little boy style so JFK would feel embarrassed about screwing around on her in here. Could you picture Marilyn in this bed? Keep your mental images to yourself, please.
Still, Laura Bush redid the Lincoln bedroom, and I think it actually looks better than Jackie's version.
Jackie's looks unfinished to me. I don't like all that dark stuff floating on white walls. Laura did fill out the space a bit, if not in the same way I would have done it:
Although I probably could have done it for less than $530,000. No wonder our country is in debt!
Laura Bush may not have the style of Jackie O, but she's still a nice and classy lady. Very unlike Cindy McCain, who spent the cost of the Lincoln Bedroom on one outfit. You can't buy taste. And Laura's certainly classier than Sarah Palin, who would probably turn the White House into a trailer park full of broken snowmobiles, moth eaten bear hides, and crabs.
Of course, I am hoping for none of the above to freshen up the White House. Yes, Michelle Obama has loads of style, and doesn't need to spend a lot of money to get it. I'm looking forward to some smart, restrained choices in The White House, both on the drapes and otherwise.
Discussion, for all two of you who finished reading this entire novel: What designer would you like to see work with Michelle (or Barack... who knows? Maybe he really cares about fabric?) to redecorate the White House? What would you like to see them do?