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Homes Obama to Clinton: How 3 presidents decorated the Oval Office

Obama to Clinton: How 3 presidents decorated the Oval Office

Obama to Clinton: How 3 presidents decorated the Oval Office
By Jacqueline Kot
January 19, 2017

Ahead of the next facelift, and possible 'Trump' re-branding, we take a look at the past iterations of the official office of the President of the United States of America.

It's the most famous office in the world and it gets a makeover every four or eight years when a new US president makes it their own.

The White House itself has survived 43 presidents and a rebuild following the Burning of Washington, but in just a few days it will face a new challenge all together: Donald John Trump.

Ahead of the next facelift, and possible 'Trump' re-branding, we look at how the decor of the Oval Office has changed over the past three administrations.

President William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001)


Red, white and blue were the dominant colours in President Clinton’s Oval Office. The vibrant blue of the rug was teamed with sofas in white and cherry-red stripes, balanced by plain white walls. Framing the windows that look out to the Rose Garden were golden yellow curtains with a blue border, a colour scheme that appeared in the upholstery of several chairs positioned around the room. 

President William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001)


On either side of the mantelpiece were paintings depicting American scenes—George Cooke’s City of Washington From Beyond the Navy Yard and Thomas Moran’s The Three Tetons, depicting the Teton Range of mountains in Wyoming. Clinton also had a bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. Like most of his predecessors going back to 1881, Clinton chose to work at the Resolute desk, made from the oak remains of British Arctic exploration ship the HMS Resolute; a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes.

President George Walker Bush (2001-2009)

OvalOfficeReplica_NARA and George W Bush Presidential Center.jpg

The decor was classic and the colour scheme light and airy in the second President Bush’s Oval Office—from cream sofas with a subtle floral motif to armchairs upholstered in teal and gold stripes, and decorative china on the bookshelf. The rug, in a soft golden hue, had a sunbeam pattern emanating from the presidential seal and was similar in design to the one used by President Ronald Reagan. 

President George Walker Bush (2001-2009)

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Hanging over the mantelpiece was a painting of President George Washington by Pennsylvania-born artist Rembrandt Peale, while busts on display around the room included one of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill by Jacob Epstein. Bush also had a few reminders of his home state, with several paintings by local artists portraying scenes of Texas. 

President Barack Hussein Obama (2009-2017)


Featuring a cosy palette of taupe and warm brown hues and a comparatively streamlined set of furniture, the decor of President Obama’s Oval Office is more subdued and modern than that of his predecessors. The Resolute desk remains in place, but  Obama added a bust of Martin Luther King Jr and one of President Abraham Lincoln by American sculptor August Saint-Gaudens.

President Barack Hussein Obama (2009-2017)


Obama's rug has inspiring quotations along its border from the likes of MLK and President John F. Kennedy. The work of US painters Norman Rockwell (The Statue of Liberty) and Childe Hassam (The Avenue in the Rain) hang on either side of the desk. And on the mica coffee table is the ever-present bowl of apples for visitors to help themselves to—said to be an Obama family tradition.

(Photos: The White House Photo Archive)

This article is adapted from the Winter 2016 issue of Hong Kong Tatler Homes.

Looking to spruce up your own home? Here are 6 key interior trends highlighted at Maison & Objet 2016.


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