Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Update on Michael Smith and the White House Gig

Well, it looks like it's true. Domino magazine just confirmed my story from last week that Michael Smith has been tapped to be the new decorator for the Obama White House. There were so many rumors swirling around that it's nice to put this one to rest. I for one will be very interested to see what Smith has up his sleeve for the Obamas.


  1. Yay! Can't wait to see how this one turns out : )

    Thanks for the confirmation!

  2. He is a wonderful designer and a safe choice. His style is traditional and comfortable. The Obamas don't have to worry about hIm being too edgy. Congratulations to him and may we all prosper over the next four years!

  3. Glad that's settled! It will be interesting to see the changes Michael will make for the Obamas!

  4. I think I would email them the link to your blog. That would be a swift kick in the a** ya know! The only think that I can think of that is comparable, really isn't....and it's me if you'd like me to send you a pic :)

    Good luck!


  5. Well that's a relief.
    He will respect the architecture, it will not be embarrassingly trendy, and the White House China will not be replaced by something from Target.

  6. Anonymous12:07 PM

    Your sources seem to be correct. Read Reliable Source in the Washington Post and you will see you
    were on to something.
    The Pick to Make a Homier White House
    Great blog and good scoop.
    kt ;)

  7. That's so exciting-- I hope that we get to see what he does!

  8. Anonymous9:01 PM

    "White House China will not be replaced by something from Target."

    Heh. Seriously, will he work on the public areas or just the family's private areas?

  9. Anon- I was under the impression that it was the private areas. I thought the public areas couldn't be changed arbitrarily by the first family??

  10. Jennifer-you are correct-this is for their private quarters. Any changes to the public areas require approval by a committee of historic preservationists.

  11. Anonymous3:50 AM

    It is far easier to adapt the public areas of the White House than your readers think. There's a process, sure, but the review committee can be swayed. Laura Bush's well-intended but misguided "improvements" wreak havoc throughout most of the public rooms and the unfortunate result is reminiscent of an expensive hotel, yet one not as quietly elegant as say the Hay-Adams when it was owned by David H. Murdock. (He also owned Stair & Co. and was the largest shareholder of Sotheby's before he sold it to A. Alfred Taubman.)

    The work on the Bush White House was expensive and the results are pretty gauche - no better way to describe it.

    There's no one exact source, or a specific date, for the public rooms - the idea was to evoke a bygone era, with lots of classical and Federal references. This gave Jackie Kennedy and Stefane Boudin a lot of wiggle room.

    The White House under Dolly Madison, for instance, did not have a Monet in the Green Room - and yet it is her period, 1809-17, that most people think the public rooms emulate. Jackie introduced the IDEA of historical accuracy; what she created was pastiche.

    Ironically, it was Pat NIxon who had the most intuitive respect for connoisseurship and allowed the ruthless, eccentric and self-taught curator, Clement E. Conger, to pursue only the best. The Nixons, of all people, set the gold standard. They are why the White House honestly can be called a fine museum.

    The Fords and the Carters were smart enough to leave well enough alone. The White House was rather severe and really chic in those days, however unlikely that sounds.

    Michelle Obama is an elegant, vital woman - and she is no stranger to luxury or high style. (Mrs. Bush couldn't pull off wearing Azzedine Alaia with the same ease as Mrs. Obama.)

    I say let Michelle Obama and Michael Smith have at it! She has a natural flair and he'll steer her in the right direction. It will be a great collaboration.

  12. Anon- This is fantastic, and I really thank you for this wealth of information. I'll be honest and tell you that I'm familiar with what Jackie did to and for the White House, but beyond that I'm not terribly knowledgeable when it comes to the White House. You've inspired me to learn more!