White House Makeovers: Part 2

by Star Furniture on February 16, 2015

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Every president has made his mark while living in the White House, but then again, so have the First Ladies. In honor of the Presidents’ Day holiday, we take a look at a few of the most notable ways First Ladies have styled the White House in recent history.

Grace Coolidge – (First Lady from 1923-1929) Mrs. Coolidge took an interest in the history of the White House, the objects in each room and their historical significance. She helped to pass legislation that permitted the acceptance of items donated by the public that were once used in the White House. Although donations were minimal at the time, a little while later, in the early 1960’s, public donations helped to establish one of the most dramatic and significant restorations the White House had ever seen.

Jackie Kennedy (First Lady from 1961-1963) A true style icon, her cultivated taste and interest in the arts inspired many of her contributions to the White House.   Initially, Mrs. Kennedy was unhappy upon moving into her new home, surrounded by, what she felt, were uninspired and undistinguished furnishings. From sketching the draperies to writing the script for the 1961 CBS Special, for which she was nominated for an Emmy, Mrs. Kennedy was involved in nearly every aspect of the restoration.

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With help from designers, collectors, and philanthropists who donated many antiques and fine paintings, not only did Mrs. Kennedy redecorate the White House, but she also headed up a complete restoration. Under her guidance, the Executive Mansion was transformed into a museum of American History and decorative arts, as well as a charming family residence.

Pat Nixon (First Lady from 1969-1974) Mrs. Nixon built upon Mrs. Kennedy’s efforts by adding important artifacts to the White House.  She acquired over 600 paintings and furnishings, the largest number of acquisitions by any administration.

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These original gilded armchairs (above) were purchased by President James Monroe and made in Paris.   Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Nixon are responsible for returning them to the White House Blue Room.

Other contributions include the renovation of the Map Room and China Room, the installation of exterior lighting, giving the house a soft-white glow, and she changed protocol so that the American Flag over the White House would fly 24 hours a day.


Nancy Reagan (First Lady from 1981-1989) Through private donations, Mrs. Reagan’s renovations included new painted walls, refinished floors, repairing fireplaces and replacing pipes, windows and wires.

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For the State Dining Room, Mrs. Reagan selected china (above) with Scarlet Red trim, partly because it was her favorite color and partly because it acted as a beautiful contrast to the white paint of the room. A number of antiques that were once in storage were also placed throughout the mansion.

“This house belongs to all Americans, and I want it to be something of which they can be proud.” ~ Nancy Reagan.

Barbara Bush (First Lady from 1989-1993)

In order to continue preserving White House antiques and artifacts, Mrs. Bush revitalized the White House Historical Association, meeting her goal of $25 million towards ongoing refurbishment and restoration.

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Michelle Obama (First Lady from 2009 to Present)

Mrs. Obama left her mark by redecorating the Old Family Dining Room. President and Mrs. John Quincy established this room in 1825 for family meals. Now, this room is used for small, official meals, including luncheons with foreign heads of state. The dining room is shown below in a Winter Wonderland theme.

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We hope you enjoyed our tribute to the stylish contributions of our First Ladies as part of the Presidents’ Day Celebration!

For more looks to inspire your home, check out our latest 2015 catalog!


Star Furniture Catalogue

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