Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend Recap: The White House

Weekend Recap time! I try to get a post up right away on Monday mornings, but I've kept you waiting this week. I do hope you can forgive me! The highlight of my weekend was Friday night when Gman and I went on a private tour of the West Wing of the White House. The West Wing has been the official office of the president since 1902. It has been renovated since then and I couldn't wait to see where some of the most important choices of our country's future were decided. I don't watch shows like The West Wing and I'm not super into politics, so I did not have specific/grand expectations. In fact, until we arrived I didn't realize we were going to the West Wing, I thought we were going to the East Wing.

me standing in the entrancy to the West Wing Lobby

The space was more modest than one might imagine, with maze-like hallways, beige walls, and old carpet. The walls were lined with photographs of the president's recent engagements and activities and were hung strategically- for example pictures of Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton watching the Osama bin Laden situation unfold were hung outside the Situation Room.

The tour included spaces like the Navy Mess, the West Colonnade, Rose Garden and South Lawn -which were lovely in the middle of winter and in the dark, so I can only imagine how spectacular they are in the middle of spring! I thought it would be such a nice place for a picnic.

We got to peek inside the Cabinet Room, Oval Office, Roosevelt Room, Upper Press Hallway, and West Wing Lobby. What I liked about the Cabinet Room was that each member had a specific chair, literally engraved with their name, and the chairs were strategically placed around in order of when the department was established, with older departments closer to the president. The president's chair was larger than everyone else's. Our guide mentioned that when a member leaves the cabinet, they have the option of purchasing their chair. Gman and I agreed we would totally buy ours. Also the enormous table was solid mahogany (impressive!).

Paintings of daily American life, presidential portraits, bronze sculptures, and historic furniture made the offices feel homey and somehow ordinary. I kept thinking, I was just at work all day and now I'm taking a tour of someone else's office? What am I doing? But it was the president's office after all so I felt silly for even thinking that.

Amy Merrick
upholstered chair, table lamp, side table, chair, couch, floral fabric, striped fabric, patterned fabric

We stopped at the Oval Office for quite some time. There were only six of us on the tour and we had the place to ourselves. I kept pinching myself as I stared at the Resolute Desk, and great American works of art by Chile Hassam and Norman Rockwell flanking its sides. Behind the desk were pictures of Mr. Obama's family. This is where he sits all day, figuring out the worlds problems. Wow.

Then I noticed the other furniture. Our guide mentioned that each president gets to decorate the office to his taste except for the white marble fireplace mantle (original to the 1909 office), the presidential seal on the ceiling, and the two flags behind the desk. I thought over-all it was decorated OK, but imagined that Mr. Obama did this on his own, saying to Michelle, "hands off my man space. I'm going to do this my way." And so he included two plain ol' couches.

The rest of the weekend I obsessed over how I would decorate the Oval Office if I were the president. I was so distracted by it that I had to take action. I began searching for the objects I would use. I've never designed anything specific before and I got excited that I was designing my office in the White House. Way to put the cart before the horse, right! Well this blog can be my fantasy land so I present to you for the first time ever, a High Heeled Traveler interior!

I was inspired by one of Amy Merrick's fabulous floral designs, which I often secretly drool over, and that leather couch, which I must have in my life immediately. I wanted to modernize the space with color and texture, without taking away from its seriousness and historical nature.

What do you think? How would you decorate the Oval Office?


  1. Wow! That sounds like such an amazing opportunity!

  2. It was truly special! I felt honored to have had the chance to do it.

  3. How cool that you got to do that! I love your picks for the Oval Office decor- maybe you could consult for Obama?!


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