In the George W. Bush Oval Office: Makeover and Décor
Recently, President Obama announced his renovation of the interior of the Oval Office. The president continued to use the furnishings that had been placed in the Oval Office by President George W. Bush. Each president adds his own touch to the Oval Office. This article is devoted to helping you become more familiar with the Oval Office makeover and décor of the Bush White House. If you would like to know more about the recent renovations by the Obamas, you can read this article.
Even before his inauguration, President-elect George W. Bush and Laura Bush were browsing the inventory of White House furniture and paintings in order to put their own touch on the décor of the Oval Office. The Oval Office makeover would mostly fall on the First Lady and her long-time interior designer from Ft. Worth, Ken Blasingame.
Before he was elected, candidate George W. Bush was asked what was one of the first things he would do after he was inaugurated. He got a good laugh when he said that he was going to clean the Oval Office.
He wasn’t kidding.
Within four hours of his inauguration, President Bush had the Oval Office scrubbed from top to bottom. The dark blue carpet and the two candy-striped sofas were gone immediately. Bush replaced the Clinton rug with the rug that had been in the Reagan Oval Office, at least for the time being. The whitewashing of the Oval Office after the stain of the Clintons is an act worthy of securing for Bush the status of (at least) a “near-great president.”
In January 2002 President Bush unveiled his refurbished Oval Office. Bush’s redecoration reflected some of his historical heroes. George Washington was one such hero. Rembrandt Peale’s portrait of the first president had been placed over the fireplace mantel courtesy of Bush’s father. Washington would stay, but, being a good Republican, Bush ejected Andrew Jackson and in came one of George Story’s portraits of Abraham Lincoln. There was also a bust of Lincoln placed in the Oval Office. A bust of President Eisenhower made its debut in the Oval Office as did a Jacob Epstein bust of Winston Churchill, courtesy of the British government.
In addition to the recycled memorabilia from past White Houses, some new pieces reflected Bush’s roots. A pair of spurs were on display as well as three landscapes of Texas by the impressionist painter, Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922). Bush also displayed a painting called “A Charge to Keep” which was the name of his first autobiography. The title comes from the name of a Methodist hymn written by Charles Wesley, which was performed at Bush's inauguration as governor of Texas.
Rug— Gone was the royal blue rug of his predecessor. Bush had it replaced with a pale gold wool rug with its signature rays shooting out from the presidential seal. Bush often remarked that the rug reflected his optimism about America as it reminded him of the rays of the sun. The $61,000 rug, which measures 30'5" by 23'5" and is similar in design to the rug that Ronald Reagan had designed for his Oval Office, was designed by Laura Bush and Ft. Worth designer, Ken Blasingame.
Chairs—The two striped gold and blue chairs in front of the fireplace were often the center of photo ops with the president and other heads of state. These chairs are a reproduction of an English armchair that was part of the White House collection.
Flooring—Bush also had the Oval Office floor refinished. The floor has had several different textures: cork and linoleum being two. President Bush had the floor replaced, using a design drafted years ago by White House architect Eric Gugler from the Franklin Roosevelt years. The pattern is a contrast of oak and walnut. These days not much of the floor is visible given the size of the president's rug that covers most of the floor surface.
The More Things Change....
However, not everything changes. Some things appear to be fixtures (at least until the next president takes them out!). The Resolute Desk has been used by many presidents whether in the Oval Office or elsewhere. President Clinton brought it back to the Oval Office after it had been put in the residence by Bush's father. Bush #41 preferred the desk that he had used as vice-president and so he moved that one into the Oval Office. Other fixtures that have had staying power include the Seymour Tall Case Clock and the table-top bronze statue by Fredric Remington called "The Bronco Buster." Also, the table behind the president's desk that is usually adorned with family photos has been in the Oval Office since after the West Wing fire of 1929.
Oval Office Links
- C-SPAN--Oval Office Tour with White House Curator William Allman
- Office Politics - Los Angeles Times
The changing of the guard at the White House extends to the décor of the Oval Office itself. The Bush look is marked by a toned-down palette, most noticeably in the pale colors of the signature
- Bush Gives Oval Office a Srub Down Upon Entering Office
- C-SPAN White House Video -- The Oval Office of George W. Bush
- Oval Office Interior Photos
Pictures of the American President's Oval Office Interiors
- Oval Office Historical Photo Essay
- The Oval Office | The White House
WhiteHouse.gov is the official web site for the White House and President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. This site is a source for information about the President, White House news and policies, White House history, and the fe
- Oval Offices in History--Photos from the Washington Post
Many Americans associate the commander in chief with the Oval Office, and most presidents put their own stylish touch on the space.
- The History Company's White House Collection
The History Company provides a number of White House historical items such as the president's Oval Office desk chair and historic reproductions.
More by this Author
On August 31, 2010, the White House revealed that the Presidential Oval Office got a "not-so-extreme makeover" while the President was vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard. This article highlights some of...
George Washington and John Adams were the first two presidents of the United States. Both men were committed patriots, but their contribution to the new republic couldn't be more different.
The modern nation-state arose out of the collapses of the European feudal order and the Roman church monopoly. This article gives an overview of its rise first in Europe and then world-wide.