In years past, home decorating pundits have erred in proclaiming that the traditional decorating style is dead or dying.
It’s true that traditional style has begun to wane in importance over the course of the past decade. It is also true that transitional, modern and contemporary styles are trending up. Even at the world’s most famous traditionally decorated mansion, the White House, at one point it was questionable whether the traditional style would continue to be the home decorating style of choice in the future. Before the Trumps took office, the Obamas had begun bringing in elements of modern and transitional style to decorate the White House.
It has now become clear that traditional décor is far from dead — and is likely to reign on for at least the remaining duration of Donald Trump’s presidency, if not longer. As proof, let’s check out the traditional style home décor of the world’s foremost trendsetters: the US President, Donald Trump, and his family at the White House. Many considered the Trumps to be trendsetters before Donald’s election to the presidency, and they’re certainly among the world’s foremost trendsetters now.
Shortly after Donald Trump took office, the White House’s chief curator, Bill Allman, retired after a 41-year career on staff. It’s a big deal that the Trumps are responsible for choosing his replacement; it is the head curator who oversees the furnishings, art and decorative antiques that comprise the White House collection. To a significant degree, their choice of curators will influence whether the White House continues in its traditional style aesthetic or becomes a more transitional environment in the future.
Members of the First Family are able to exercise quite a bit of their own discretion when decorating the executive mansion. Most choose to decorate with furnishings from the White House’s extensive collection. If the First Family members aren’t able to find what they want in the existing collection, they often borrow pieces from museums and art galleries. Congress is able to approve funds if they’re needed for updates to the White House and its furnishings. Presidents are also able to draw from their own accounts to pay for White House furnishings.
The following narrative and images will give you some ideas of the most important 2018 traditional décor trends sparked by Donald and Melinia Trump’s White House décor.
The State of the White House in 2018:
The White House serves multiple functions:
- It is a home. The President, his family and other members of their household live there.
- It is an office building and political meeting place. The White House accommodates offices for many of the President’s top staff members.
- It is a functional museum, complete with curators, a preservation committee and an interior decorator.
- It is a tourist destination. Millions of visitors tour the premises every year.
- It is a recreational facility featuring a swimming pool, tennis court, basketball court, jogging track, bowling alley and movie theater.
The furnishings in the White House must be suitable for serving all these functions.
Donald Trump’s Oval Office Décor
The Desk in the Oval Office at the White House
US Presidents have been using the ornate, imposing Resolute Desk in the Oval Office for decades now; some of the presidents who conducted the country’s business from the Resolute desk include John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. So far, President Trump has opted to continue that tradition.
The Oval Office Draperies
Gold is Donald Trump’s signature decorating color. Both his Manhattan Penthouse and his Palm Beach, Florida mansion are decked out in gold. So it’s no surprise that President Trump chose to exchange former President Barack Obama’s choice of brick red colored draperies with eye-catching traditional gold ones.
Rugs in the Oval Office
Barack Obama decorated the Oval Office floor with a round rug that featured quotes by previous US Presidents around the outer edges. Within hours of occupying the Oval Office, Donald Trump replaced the quote rug with a sunburst rug that former first lady Laura Bush designed. The rug had been a prominent inclusion on the Oval Office floor during the early days of George W. Bush’s presidency.
Seating in the Oval Office
President Trump chose to replace some casual couches made of gray suede that were formerly in use in the Oval Office. In their place, he brought in fancy brocade sofas.
Busts, Paintings and Art Decorating the Oval Office
During the previous administration, critics had given President Obama a hard time over his choice to remove the Winston Churchill bust from the Oval Office. In its place, President Obama had placed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr.
President Trump chose to include both busts in his Oval Office decorating scheme. The bust of Martin Luther King Jr. was moved to occupy a position on a wooden desk in the Oval Office, while the Churchill bust occupies a more prominent position on display not far from the President’s resolute desk.
President Trump did not care to keep the modern art President Obama used for decorating the Oval Office. Instead, President Trump selected traditional oil paintings to hang on the Oval Office walls. Two of his most prominent choices include portraits of former US Presidents Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt.
The White House Family Theater Is Influencing America’s Home Theater Décor Trends
Home theaters remain trendy in 2018. The White House’s home movie theater has been at the forefront of media attention thanks to a May, 2017 announcement that Melania Trump decided to include the theater as a brand new part of the East Wing White House tour. Prior to that time, the theater was not open to the public.
Before motion pictures were popularized, White House residents used the room as a cloakroom. The theater was created during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. The Reagans remodeled the theater in 1982-1983 to include 51 seats arranged in tiered rows.
The theater’s last remodel took place in 2004-2005, when it was outfitted with the red seats and décor you see pictured in the 2012 photo above. As Americans and world citizens tour the White House in droves, this style is influencing public perception of what home theater décor should look like.
Décor in Donald and Melinia Trump’s Private Living Quarters at the White House
Shortly after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Melinia Trump hired Tham Kannalikham as the interior decorator who would transform the First Family’s private living quarters at the White House. Ralph Lauren Home was Kannalikham’s previous employer. Before that, she was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Several sources report that Kannalikham has a strong affinity for classical interior décor and architecture. She frequently attends the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art’s events, according to Mitchell Owens at Architectural Digest.
In the private West Wing dining room, the Trumps have performed extensive renovations, including hanging an opulent crystal chandelier paid for with Trump’s own funds. President Trump also added a 60+-inch flat-screen television to the dining room wall above the fireplace. Time reports that,
“…contractors from the General Services Administration resurfaced the walls and redid the moldings in two days.”
- At the White House Museum Website — Overview of the White House
- At the US News Website — New White House look: Donald Trump gives the Oval Office a makeover
- At the Washington Post Website — Closer to Home, the Trump White House Has Two Other Big Jobs to Fill
- At the Huffington Post Website — Even the Resident Curator Is Retiring From Trump’s White House
- At the DCist.com Website — White House movie theater is part of East Wing tours for the first time
- At the Q13 Fox Website — White House Curator to Retire
- At the Architectural Digest Website — Meet the new White House decorator, Tham Khannalikham
- At the Vanity Fair Website — What Melania Trump’s designer might do to the White House
- At the Realtor.com Website — 5 Facts About the White House’s Mysterious New Interior Designer
- At the Realtor.com Website — Gold drapes and potato chips: 6 White House changes courtesy of President Trump
- At the Time Website — Donald Trump After Hours
- At the Time Website
— A note to our readers
This page was last updated on 2-15-2018.