Ahead Of President Obama's Prime-time Address, The Oval Office Gets A Makeover : The Two-Way During his speech tonight, Americans may notice the president has refurbished the Oval Office at the White House.
NPR logo Ahead Of President Obama's Prime-time Address, The Oval Office Gets A Makeover

Ahead Of President Obama's Prime-time Address, The Oval Office Gets A Makeover

The newly redecorated Oval Office of the White House, with new carpet, couches and wallpaper. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

This evening, when President Obama addresses the nation from his desk in the Oval Office, check out the snazzy new wallpaper.

While he and his family were vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, the president's office got "an extreme makeover," CNN reports.

A design team swooped in and in less than 10 days, transformed the president's office from a traditional and somewhat formal setting to a more modern family-style room.

According to The New York Times, "the look ... is more modern and tends toward neutral hues of brown and taupe, rather than the gold and yellow tones favored by his predecessor, George W. Bush."

Gone is the sunburst rug that Mr. Bush loved so much; designed by his wife, Laura, he used to say it evoked a spirit of optimism. In its place is a more muted, mostly wheat and cream-colored carpet featuring the presidential seal in the center, and ringed on its edge with five quotations selected by Mr. Obama – four from former presidents (Lincoln, Kennedy and both Roosevelts) and one from the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Bush’s yellow brocade couches have been replaced with two custom-made sofas of brown cotton that resembles velvet. They face a boxy table, fashioned from American walnut and mica, that features a fruit bowl – not flowers – as its centerpiece. There is a lone navy blue pillow on one of the couches, which pulls in the blue from some new, modern table lamps.

The new wallpaper is striped, gold and yellow, but the pictures – portraits of Lincoln and Washington – have remained, as has the grandfather clock. Mr. Obama reupholstered Mr. Bush’s two mahogany chairs and kept the desk, called the Resolute, that every chief executive since Rutherford B. Hayes — with the exception of Johnson, Nixon and Ford — has used.

NB: Not one taxpayer dollar was spent on the revamp, the White House says. The White House Historical Association sprang for it, "through a contribution from the committee that paid for Mr. Obama's inauguration," The Times reports.

The makeover "is sure to trigger some debate," McClatchy reports.

Is it an ostentatious move when so many Americans are struggling economically? A good way to support U.S. furniture and rug makers? Ultimately does it symbolize anything or are White House room makeovers just something presidents do?

The quotations on the rug come from Martin Luther King, Jr., and Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy.