The Oval Office is of utmost importance to any American president. Whenever a new leader comes into office, they introduce their own tweaks to the office’s décor.
Anything can change during this transition in leadership, from wallpapers to the upholstery.
The idea is to incorporate a president’s unique personality into the office. Additionally, this is a great way to make a mark in history, as many people are quite interested in how the office layout and décor will change after a new world leader takes charge.
The office is also a great illustration of how the president represents their country and how they like to showcase the country’s sovereignty to other countries.
Many international dignitaries meet in this room, and its look sends an important message.
Nonetheless, the room is not just a grand gesture, as the president uses it for their day-to-day activities, such as holding meetings with the staff members.
While celebrating their 50th anniversary, American Home Shield took us on a walk down memory lane so we can see how the office has changed in the last 100 years.
The company had a look at how the office has changed from the year 1909 to the year 2021.
Lovers of history might recall that the West Wing expanded during 1909. At this time, William Howard Taft moved his room from the Roosevelt Room into this iconic room.
Since then, the room has changed in many ways. Here is how the oval office has changed since 1909.
1. William Howard Taft (1909-1913)
Before Taft moved in, the room was actually rounded on one end. However, he had it redesigned to assume the oval shape.
After making the landmark decision to move the executive office, he did this as he expanded the West Wing. The Roosevelt Room was no longer the executive office.
2. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
Taft’s successors didn’t have a lot of modifications to make to the oval office. However, his immediate successor, Woodrow Wilson, preferred to work from the Treaty Room, which would later become popular as Obama’s “man-cave.”
The decision made him miss out on many features of the Oval Office such as the silk velvet curtains and a wood floor made of mahagua.
3. Warren Harding (1921-1923)
Harding was only president for two years before he passed away. A photo of the office in August of 1923 has mourning crepes over his leather desk chair.
4. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
As you can see, the Oval Office during Coolidge’s tenure still largely reflects the look Taft left behind. By the way, designer Nathan C. Wyeth designed the office for Taft.
However, there is a marble mantel that gives the office some sense of authority. The fixtures at this point were by E. F. Caldwell & Co., a notable lighting and metalwork company.
5. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
The work Wyeth and Taft had put into redesigning the Oval Office was destroyed in 1929 during Christmas Eve. Hoover made repairs and expanded the office to have a colonial-style look.
The walls were also redesigned with butternut wood-paneled walls.
6. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Although Hoover did plenty to renovate the Oval Office, Roosevelt had a whole different plan for it. He moved it to the southeast corner of the West Wing for starters, which offered the office better natural light.
Roosevelt also had it increased by two feet.
Still, the new president held on to Hoover’s 17-piece suite that had been used to refurnish the former Oval Office.
The suite included a club chair, two tables, two armchairs, a davenport, a swivel desk chair, and three smoking stands of different sizes.
7. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
President Harry Truman was the first to introduce the Seal of the President on the rug. The rug had a blue-green color, and the seal was created by cutting the pile to various lengths.
This rug remained until the day that JFK was killed in Texas. His wife, Jackie Kennedy had planned on getting the office redecorated as they were in Texas.
8. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
Very few presidents seemed unconcerned about the Oval Office’s décor, and Eisenhower was certainly one of them. Nevertheless, it was reported that he ruined the floor with golf spikes.
9. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
On the First Lady’s invitation, French interior designer, Stephane Boudin, came to renovate and restore the White House. Among other changes, he introduced a new red rug into the Oval Office, in addition to pale curtains and white sofas.
Unfortunately, the Kennedys did not see the completed job. Before this massive renovation, John Kennedy personalized the office with things like a paperweight made using a coconut shell that had saved his life during the Second World War.
10. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
To cover up Eisenhower’s spike marks, Johnson used linoleum. He also introduced three television sets and a teletype cabinet.
He also had his own TV remote with his initials.
11. Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Richard Nixon went for a bold décor consisting of gold and blue. He also introduced the Wilson desk, which President Joe Biden is now using.
However, he did this under the misconception that it belonged to his idol, Woodrow Wilson.
12. Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
Gerald was clearly not a fan of Nixon’s style. He replaced the gold and blue with a combination of yellow, baby blue, and terracotta.
He also introduced the Seymour tall case clock, and it remains at the Oval Office even today. The timepiece was made around 1800 and is currently considered a White House treasure.
13. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
You might not notice much difference between Gerald’s and Carter’s Oval Office. However, despite retaining much of Gerald’s décor, he introduced a few tweaks of his own.
For instance, he brought back the Resolute desk, which has been liked by all presidents since Carter, except for the Bushes.
14. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
During his first term in office, Ronald Regan did not decorate the Oval Office. However, when he did, he introduced a new rug featuring a sunbeam design.
He also added a 2-inch base to the Resolute desk so he could stop hitting his knees on the drawers.
15. George H. W. Bush (1989-1993)
The first Bush gave the Oval Office a more modern look by introducing steel blue and cream color. He also personalized the space with lots of family photos.
He was also the only president to use the C&O desk in the Oval Office after growing fond of it during his tenure as vice-president under Ronald Reagan.
16. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
You can probably see Nixon’s era décor in Bill Clinton’s Oval Office. It was decorated by Kaki Hockersmith.
The office stands out for its eye-catching blue seal rug that has been brought back by Joe Biden.
17. George W. Bush (2001-2009)
Bush Junior reminded us of the Ronald Reagan era with his choice of sunbeam theme for the rug. The rug was paired with gold drapes.
Laura Bush designed the rug with the intention of invoking the optimism of the rising sun.
18. Barack Obama (2009-2017)
Obama stands out for being the first president to use patterned walls. He did so using golden tan and light-beige stripped wallpaper.
He chose the décor to reflect the fact that he was there to work. That is why he opted for neutral tones and fawn-colored velvet sofas.
According to his designer, Michael S. Smith, this room was made to look like the place to have a quick espresso before getting down to work, unlike Bush’s room which looked general and like the kind of room you’d have tea in.
19. Donald Trump (2017-2021)
Trump opted for a somewhat ironic choice of drapes as they were originally chosen by Hillary Clinton when Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office.
He also introduced Obama’s wallpaper and chose a motif made of sea scrolls, leaves, and floral medallions. He was trying to evoke a sense of the White House’s history into the room.
20. Joe Biden (2021-Present)
Biden stuck to Clinton’s drapes for the windows. He also brought back his navy rug.
The new president has also introduced a 3.9-billion-year-old moon rock.
Clearly, the décor of the Oval Office is a strong reflection of the personal taste of the person occupying it. It is also a great opportunity for the president’s designer to showcase their style and be part of history.
Without a doubt, many presidents have made the White House an amazing place to call home.