News & Opinion

The Trump White House

Will Trump turn his White House gold?

The Daily Beast

January 19, 2017

Truly, politics is showbiz, and showbiz politics—for what should the first big interior décor bulletin of the new Trump White House be but that Melania Trump will apparently have a “glam room,” as recently reported by Us Weekly.

This space would apparently constitute somewhere where Mrs. Trump could have her make-up and hair done—this process takes one hour and fifteen minutes, a time of “uninterrupted focus.”

“Melania wants a room with the most perfect lighting scenario, which will make our jobs as a creative team that much more efficient, since great lighting can make or break any look,” Nicole Bryl, her make-up artist, told US Weekly.

There is not yet talk of vegetable gardens, such as the one Michelle Obama created. Instead, the only clues we can look to are contained in the Trumps’ New York penthouse, where more is never enough.

The number of golden sconces, glittering chandeliers, and puffy-cheeked cherubs being shipped to D.C. are a mystery.

But make no mistake: the White House, for however long the Trumps will be resident there, will look quite different with them in residence.

The Obamas’ private White House quarters were photographed in all their elegant glory very recently by Architectural Digest.

Decorated by Michael S. Smith—a spokesman said he was unavailable for comment for this article, and could not say whether he would design for the Trumps, too—the quarters were “adorned with an unprecedented array of 20th- and 21st-century artworks, their private quarters remain an oasis of civility and, yes, refined taste in a political arena so often bereft of both,” according to the magazine.

A gorgeous gallery of photographs showcased the successful curatorial efforts of Michelle Obama, Smith, and William Allman, the curator of the White House. Classic furniture was tastefully juxtaposed alongside modern art, contemporary comfort abutted design notes of the past.

Smith told Time a few days ago that he was advising the Trumps on decoration.

“I’ve had really nice conversations and said, ‘Listen, I think that we’re part of a very special club to have the honor to be selected to work on probably the most prominent, most famous house in the world.’ I have very much extended my desire to be as helpful and informative and supportive as possible. We’ve had some dialogues with people from the

President-elect’s team and very, very warm and great conversations.”

The New York Times reported that “Mr. Trump is planning to swap the curtains in the Oval Office—currently a deep shade of red—for those used by a previous president.” (A wise move as red and orange would be a loud color clash.)
In curating the décor for their D.C. home, the Trumps will also have all the information about the White House’s furniture and artwork at their disposal.

“Each room has a vertical, majestic quality,” Smith told Time. “The wonderful thing about that office is it has a very strong narrative and a strong history, but it’s also adaptable to each individual president who sits there. It was very different under President Bush. It got a very different feeling and kind of DNA under President Obama, and it will be, I’m sure, extraordinarily different under President Trump.”

So, what next? For aesthetic inspiration for Melania and Donald, see their gold and gilt penthouse at Trump Tower, designed by Angelo Donghia in 1983 just as the gilt-encrusted Dynasty era of excess was getting juiced up.
If your view is that the end of the world is nigh, the White House will go boom looking a lot like the high-spending 1980s, with chinchilla wraps draped over Rococo footstools.

The Trump’s 66th floor penthouse at Trump Tower is worth a reputed $100 million, and—as I wrote in the Daily Beast last year, after photographs of it were published in the Daily Mail—is a grandiose riot of floor-to-ceiling marble, a statue of an intertwined Eros and Psyche, a Renoir (“La Loge”) next to a writing desk, cushions bearing the Trump coat of arms, classical paintings, gorgeous coffee-table books (one costing $15,000), and even a very luxe toy car—with personalized license plate—owned by Trump and third wife Melania’s son, Barron.

The chairs are Louis XIV-inspired, there are gold trays, and gold-rimmed glasses, the ceilings feature yet more extravagant paintings inspired by Greek mythology.

In the White House, the Trumps can do whatever they like to their private quarters, but cannot change the décor of key rooms like the Yellow Oval Room, Queen’s Suite, and the Lincoln Bedroom without going through Allman’s office, according to Kate Anderson Brower, author of The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House in an interview with USA Today.

A transition official working closely with Mrs. Trump told the Daily Beast: “The First Lady-elect understands there is tremendous interest in the details surrounding how the Trump family will make the White House their home.
“Mrs. Trump looks forward to opening the White House to the American people so that all Americans can get to know her and her family better.

“The First Lady-elect’s immediate focus is on the Inaugural celebration and the events surrounding this historic moment, and on supporting President-elect Trump. She is also working to hire her team for the Office of the First Lady so that she can execute her initiatives on behalf of the American people.”

Pressed on what Mr. and Mrs. Trump were planning specifically, the official declined to elaborate, as they did on the identity of the interior designer the Trumps have engaged to see their aesthetic vision into reality.

Introspective magazine asked five designers to dream something up for both the Clintons and Trumps before the election.

Designing a yellow Oval Room for Trump, David Netto imagined: “Donald Trump loves things very shiny and 1980s, the decade that made him. I’m talking mirrors and brass. He would have serious withdrawal going from his black-glass-clad Trump Tower to the austerity of a whitewashed Georgian, so I think some floor-to-ceiling windows are a must.

“Since Trump likes to be associated with kings, he might replace all the door hardware with P.E. Guerin ormolu in the Louis XV style, like the bathrooms at the Ritz. The Oval Office could be turned into a mirrored throne room so Trump could check out his coif while establishing our new world order.”

Robert Couturier, in his sketch of a Trump Oval Office, mused: “Since Donald Trump is not a classic presidential character he should have a non-classic office. I’d suggest orange-paneled walls, similar to ones I used in a grand Fifth Avenue apartment several years back, and fill the room with show-stopping works by Vladimir Kagan (the sofa), Mattia Bonetti (the coffee table) and Willy Rizzo (the mirrored credenza). In all likelihood, the Oval Office would only be for show, since Trump seems to do most of his work from his bed, tweeting at 3:00 am. With its sinuous lines and shiny surfaces, this scheme feels rich, which is an image that Trump wants to project. Rich and orange.”

Alexandra Loew’s vision of a yellow Oval Room for Trump including steering “things away from the temptation for gilding… I’d surf the line between traditional and bombastic.”

Loew also made sure the room reminded Trump about his political nemesis and the meaning of a multicultural, inclusive America, including “a seemingly traditional toile de Jouy on the windows, for example, by Sheila Bridges, which lampoons the stereotypes of the African-American experience.”

The silver service would be produced by Taxco, a Mexico-based workshop, Loew said. A fancy vase would be filled with jonquils, “to remind Trump of Hillary Clinton.”

Whatever the White House does look like over the next few years, the Trumps—like the Obamas—will only be temporary custodians of America’s most famous residence.

“No one lives in this house forever,” Smith told Time. “It has a limited occupancy, and you’re constantly aware of those who came before you, and you’re, you know, thoughtful and considerate of those who will go after you…you’re aware of yourself in a great continuum of history.

“The Bushes left the house in wonderful, wonderful shape. The beautiful thing is that we hopefully built upon that. But we changed it and edited it and made it for this family, and that will happen for the next family.”

And whoever that next family is, and wherever their interior design tastes lie, at least they’ll have a ready-made “glam room.”