Penelope Green On Oval Office Redesign: 'The Audacity Of Taupe'

09/01/2010 10:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • New York Times

The Oval Office has been tweaked, in a makeover orchestrated by the California decorator Michael Smith. In response, television audiences and the blogosphere seemed to produce a collective yawn: too brown, too dowdy, too ho hum, they pronounced as one.

It is a subtle redo: The desk is still Resolute, a gift from Queen Victoria to Rutherford B. Hayes, built from pieces of a salvaged Arctic discovery vessel. (With the exception of Johnson, Nixon and Ford, every president has used it.) The gold silk damask curtains installed by Barack Obama's predecessor are also unchanged.

What is new? A rug woven with quotations from Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and others; two fawn-colored cotton-rayon sofas; two elegant midnight-blue lamps by Christopher Spitzmiller; and an extremely contemporary mica coffee table from Roman Thomas, a New York furnituremaker.

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