When Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, the world braced for what it knew would be major change. (Although exactly how major was a surprise to us all.) In a lesser sense, we knew the White House would change too—maybe not into the notoriously gilded styling (opens in new tab) of the New York City penthouse the family had been calling home, but definitely into less of, as Trump allegedly described it (opens in new tab), "a dump."
Here, all the facelifts America's most iconic home has gotten since 45 moved in.
The Private Residence
Shortly after the inauguration, a spokeswoman for Melania Trump announced that the first lady had hired Laotian-American interior designer Tham Kannalikham to redecorate the private residence in the White House, as is the norm for all first ladies to do. While no photos have been released of Kannalikham’s work (yet), Michael Wolff’s tell-all book (opens in new tab) revealed plenty about how the space has changed to accommodate its new residents.
According to Wolff, the president and first lady separated the sleeping quarters, making it “the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms.”
Through interviews with current and former Trump aides and advisers, Wolff also discovered that Trump had asked that two more televisions be installed in his bedroom (which means there are currently three TVs in his room) and that a lock be added to his door, an act that “precipitat[ed] a brief standoff with the secret service, who insisted they have access to the room.”
The recent updates to the outside of the White House are much easier to see. In August, new limestone stairs, mined in Indiana, were placed between the South Portico balcony down to the driveway below. It's the first time since the 1950s that the stairs have been touched.
At the same time, workers installed a path of lights (opens in new tab) along the colonnade that runs between the residence and the Oval Office, so that guests can see the Rose Garden better at night.
Towards the end of 2017, Melania had to make the decision to cut back portions of the Jackson Magnolia, a tree that was planted directly to the left of the South Portico after Andrew Jackson took office in the 1800s. While efforts had been made over the years to preserve it, specialists from the United States National Arboretum were brought in and they decided that the structure of the tree was “greatly compromised and the tree is completely dependent on [its] artificial support,” CNN reported.
The West Wing
Also in August, the House underwent significant interior renovations focused on upgrading the West Wing's IT system and replacing the building's 27-year-old heating and air conditioning units. The HVAC repairs prompted a “paint and carpet refresh,” said Alan Zawatsky, who directs the White House Service Center at the General Service Administration. The new gray- and white-patterned carpet has been seen in both the West Wing Lobby and Roosevelt Room, where it replaced yellow carpeting from the Obama administration.
The Oval Office
And all the way back on January 20, 2017, the first Trump changes to the White House appeared. On his inauguration day, Trump replaced the dark red curtains from Obama’s second term with gold curtains that date back to Bill Clinton’s tenure. (A Democrat! But perhaps the allure of the gold (opens in new tab) was so strong it didn't matter.) Trump also swapped out Obama’s rug—encircled with the Teddy Roosevelt quote “The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us”—with Ronald Reagan's golden-sunburst rug with garland edges, and replaced Obama's couches with the cream-colored ones from George W. Bush’s time in office.
While Trump kept Frederic Remington’s sculpture The Bronco Buster where Obama had it, he swapped out the painting above it from Childe Hassam’s Avenue in the Rain to a portrait of President Andrew Jackson. The striped wallpaper from Obama’s era was also replaced with a floral design in cream. “[Mr. Trump] wanted to bring back the luster and the glory of the White House,” said a White House official who spoke anonymously to CBS News. “The Obama wallpaper was very damaged. There were a lot of stains on it.”
More on the Anniversary of Trump's Inauguration
Lyndsey Matthews is the Destination News Editor for AFAR; previously she was a Lifestyle Editor across all of Hearst Digital Media's brands, and a digital editor at Martha Stewart Weddings and Travel + Leisure.
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