America

Obama's New Look Oval Office Proves There's No Disputing Taste

Obama Oval Office

hide captionThe Oval Office has a new look. Some love it. Others hate it. At least it's still oval. 

J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

President Barack Obama brought renewed attention to the Oval Office with his Tuesday night address to the nation on Iraq.

But as the days and weeks pass, what the president said in the Oval Office will likely fade from memory.

We'll still be looking, however, at what he did to the newly redecorated Oval Office for the next two years at least. Maybe it will grow on us.

As was widely reported Tuesday, the White House ditched the light-colored formal-looking couches that sat in former President George W. Bush's Oval Office. It also jettisoned the former occupant's sunburst rug and cream painted walls.

In their place, there's wall paper with a light beige stripe and caramel-colored, more informal couches that appear to some eyes to give off more of the air of a family room than a formal office occupied by the world's most powerful head of state.

A lot of the reaction to the new look — surprise! —- appears to break along partisan lines.

Go to the liberal Huffington Post, for instance, and you read a lot of positive reviews like this one from a commenter.

I like the new look. The old sofa fabric looked like something from the 1960s (brocade?) and the other pieces of furniture were mis-matched. This new look is more business-like (as it should be), yet it is still comfortable and welcoming.

Kudos to the decorator for not going over the top and doing a complete makeover.

Go to conservative RedState.org and you read this from poster Moe Lane:

What the heck is this, a sitcom?...

PS: Someone just emailed me: “This is the most impressive marketing effort Room Store could have possibly conceived.”

Arguably, some of the liberal-conservative divide on this could be tied to the tendencies of people in both groups with conservatives having more of an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude and liberals maybe being more willing to break a few decorative dishes.

But some of it must conceivably be based on just pure aesthetic sensibilities.

My first reaction to the new couches, for instance, was that they looked somewhat less substantial and upscale than one might expect in the Oval Office. (I'm not a big fan of the striped wall paper, either.)

Some others who I informally polled in the NPR newsroom thought the look of the couches, in combination with the coffee table, suggested a college dorm common area, circa 1975.

And this was not the harshest thing said. Someone said the furniture had a second-hand look and that maybe the president should advertise it as part of the new White House's new frugality.

Granted, it may all look better in person.

Anyway, those of us who question some of these interior decorating choices will no doubt get used to them before too long.

And, really, don't we all wish that these days the only thing we had to fear was fear itself, and what kind of fabric would grace the Oval Office couches?

(The Washington Post has a gallery of photos of past Oval Offices. It also has a gallery of Obama Oval Office photos.)

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