Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Well Designed Change

Its official, Change is coming to the White House.

Yes, Michael S. Smith is headed to town with an entirely new agenda. His platform consists of classical innovation, elegant comfort, and real life usability.

I'm talking about the newly appointed White House decorator of course!
Can he bring change? The cherry leather chairs below tell me, "Yes he can!"

Oh certainly the WH has had some glory days in its past. Jackie Kennedy was a proponent of change herself. You might even call her a Maverick.

She didn't just want to decorate her new residence upon moving in, she wanted to restore it, honor America, and showcase authentic period pieces. She directed a transformation not just a face lift, with influences from Sister Parish and Stephane Boudin.

“It would be sacrilege to merely redecorate it—a word I hate. It must be
restored, and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of

Her results were absolutely fitting for the residence of the President...

The Blue Room. Jackie had the walls lightened from the dark blue they had previously been, and added a light rug. Look at the pretty herringbone wood floors underneath and the gorgeous Parisian inspired crystal chandelier.

The Oval Room. Perhaps the room with the most contrasting colors of all the ones Jackie transformed... A bright and cheerful room so appropriate for an energetic young family.

The Red Room. She put a light rug in here too. It definitely softens the harshness of past (and future) red rooms. The chairs and sofa to the are upholstered in fabric with a touch of pink... its a detail like that which can make all the difference!

The Green Room. Its a soft clover-like green, and is brightened by the light floral upholstery on the settees and by the crystal chandelier. Fresh pink flowers in the background add to the femininity Jackie bestowed.

President Kennedy's restored Oval Office. It was completed while he was in Dallas, the weekend of his assassination. It was dismantled before Jackie could see it finished. Of course, this is the famous desk that JFK Jr played under as a little boy.

Light colors mixed into the rug, the white walls, and accents of gold keep refresh the State Dining Room. This could seriously pass for 2009 rather than 1962!

The Kitchen and its carnation pink curtains... don't you just love them? This Kitchen is ahead of its time with so much stainless steel and a freestanding island!

The private Dining Room with its restored wallpaper. The colors are so rich, yet the room isn't severe because of all the pops of white and the flowing pattern in the rug.

I love the eye catching teal of the Diplomatic Room. These colors are so Michael Smith- I wonder if he'll revive them!

The East Sitting Room. I love the enormous arched window and flowing window treatments. They are simply elegant, not over the top (achem, 1990's!). Notice the interesting ruching detail of the upholstery on the bottoms of the chairs and the sinuous lines of the chandelier. The room's more tone-on-tone look is still popular today.

The West Sitting Room. Of course the popular idea of stacked books on center tables was in place decades ago with Jackie at the wheel. The light blush carpet, lipstick pink chair and apple green window treatments are just jewel-like. Notice how this room has a bold gold tone chandelier and the more monochromatic East Sitting Room had the lighter crystal one...details details details!

Perhaps the most recognizable of all Jackie's White House Rooms- the French inspired First Lady Bedroom. Lighter walls become a backdrop to the fabric architecture of the draperies and the crowned and swagged bed. There are so many fabulous pieces this room: the Bergere chairs, the monochrome Boutis quilts, a colored crystal chandelier, a painted screen, understated framed prints...still all coveted elements today!

The view opposite the bed of the Sitting Area. Look at the pretty embroidered silk table skirt- its evident Jackie loved fabric as a major design ingredient. Even the small armoire has curtained doors. The curtains look more aqua than steel blue in this picture...hmmm I don't know which is more accurate nor which I prefer!

The mantle display could easily be mistaken for something in a home today- arandom grouping of similar frames, blue and Chinese pottery, and an antique bust.

From the fringe on the curtains to the pleated skirt on the chaise, look at all the fine upholstery details in Jackie's Dressing Room. Notice all the personal touches here, and in several other of the First Family's rooms- the framed family photos, stacks of books, baskets full of firewood...

Here in the Queen's Bedroom and Sitting Room are the most obvious displays of Jackie's love of fabrics and French Designs. Its Toile done Americana style in cranberry red and indigo blue. She balanced light and dark so well in each space. Even the darker blue is bright and airy because of the contrasting wood trim, light rug, and strategically placed mirror.

The Lincoln bedroom. It's a subtle and soothing room. The dark wood contrasts beautifully with the delicate upholstery fabrics.

Just when you think you know what to expect, bright blue canopies the Prez's bed. I love the contrast of the shiny dark doors to the right of the bed. With all these canopy beds, Michael will fit right in!

And now for the most charming rooms...

Caroline's powder-puff pink bedroom. How sweet is her candy colored sofa and floral canopy bed? She must have felt so grown up in here. One of the reasons making these rooms so wonderful is that they look real, lived in and personalized. Toys, books, frames are part of the life of the first family and add so much to the decor.

John-John's bedroom. It's got Jackie's stamp all over it!

Lastly, we see the Pool Room. The wall we see is actually a mirror, reflecting a mural that was commissioned by President Kennedy's father. Trying to bring a little of the Hyannis coast to DC it seems!

For more of Michael S. Smith's exquisite interiors click here. His books are amazing too, both for their text and imagery!

For more of the White House through the years click here. Its quite eye-catching how it has evolved over the years!

*Photos and quotes from The White House Museum website and Michael S. Smith Houses *


Things That Inspire said...

Wow - what a thorough post! I had the wonderful opportunity to go to a party at the White House in December (and did a post about it!) - many of the rooms look the same as they did when Jackie reigned.

Thank you for visiting my blog - I look forward to exploring yours.

Rebecca@Harmony and Home said...

Wow.... I love your post on Michael's selection as new designer for the White House. Great collection of photos of the White House that you found! Thanks for your comment on my blog! I think yours is wonderful!

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