On January 20th, a new president will take over the White House. We all know moving into a new place can be strenuous, but what's it like when you're moving into America's most famous house? Read on to find out.
The president elect can't move in a minute sooner. "We're not allowed in the White House until noon on January 20, so we have to operate virtually from an off-site location and organize all the logistics there," says Bradley Blakeman, who was Former President George W. Bush's deputy assistant and in charge of scheduling every minute of his time—including on move-in day. "It's organized and they've got it done to a science. It's like a military maneuver."
Why is move-in like a military maneuver? Because it happens fast. "Officers from the General Services Administration are moving people out and in, painting and recarpeting," says Blakeman. "It takes every bit of 12 hours to finish up. They're in there until midnight and later to put the finishing touches on." All personal decor choices from the first family will take place after move-in day.
One thing most people don't know: The first family is responsible for getting all of their belongings to the White House themselves. "They have a coordination effort with the government through private movers," says Blakeman. For example, President Obama had to cover the transportation costs (either with personal funds or money raised for the campaign) to get his items from Chicago to Washington D.C. Once the president elect's belongings arrive, the residence staff takes custody of the possessions and begins unpacking.
A chief usher coordinates move-in day, giving the White House staff floor plans and photos that show where each items goes (these are logistical issues the president elect discusses with the chief usher beforehand), according to Slate. "During the move-in process, the first family is at the inauguration or watching the parade," says Blakeman. "By the time the parade is over, they have the inaugural balls, so they're out of the residence for a long time, allowing all of this work to take place."
Once the president moves in, he or she can completely redecorate the Oval Office. That may entail changing the artwork on the walls, the books on the shelves and even chairs, sofas and other pieces of furniture, reports ABC News. Here, the changing of guards takes place in the Oval Office before Bill Clinton's presidency.
Blakeman estimates about 500 people work to move the entire new administration in. "Even if there's a Democrat in the White House and a Democrat is elected president, it's as if a Republican is coming in because the president elect will bring all their own people," says Blakeman. "And officers are completely reorganizing the West Wing for that."
It may sound shocking, but during the first week of move-in into the White House, the president typically is asked to plan his or her funeral should anything occur during his presidency, says Blakeman.
During the first week after move-in, the president can also reassign who will be cooking for the first family. "Maybe they don't like the chef that's there now," says Blakeman. "But they probably won't take any meals the very first day at the White House. The first meal will likely be the next morning at breakfast." Here, current White House executive pastry chef Susan Morrison shows a sampling of desserts.
The new president is outfitted with a snazzy new state car with cutting edge security features (most known only to the Secret Service). Also, if it hasn't been covered before move-in day, the president elect will be brought up to speed on things such as the White House's top-secret emergency apparatus that was put into place after 9/11, says Blakeman.
Just outside the Cabinet Room there is a rotating photograph gallery of the president, including photos of him meeting with world leaders and allies, reports ABC News. On move-in day, the photographs are swapped out for new ones of, say, the new president at the inaugural ceremonies.