When the president’s away, upgrades are made. When President Donald Trump headed to his his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, in August for an extended 11-day working vacation, the White House underwent a makeover. But this isn’t the first time the Trump administration has moved to do a little redecorating. So how exactly has Trump changed the White House since taking office? He’s actually done quite a bit to renovate and redecorate the White House since his inauguration.
It’s not clear if President Trump authorized plans to make over the White House because he dislikes how things currently look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or simply because he’s looking to put his own spin on the place. During his first year in office, Golf magazine reported that Trump had told members at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster that the "White House is a real dump." While Trump later denied having said that, tweeting "I love the White House" and calling it "one of the most beautiful buildings" he’d ever seen, he still went ahead with plans to renovate and re-decorate.
According to CNN, renovations at the White House in August included a length list of upgrades and repairs. In the West Wing, ground floor and second floor bathrooms were "modernized," while a wood-paneled elevator was given an update with new fixtures and lighting. Plumbing was updated in the White House cafeteria, while chips, cracks, and wear and tear of the dining room’s wood paneling and faux walls were repaired. The dining room also received a new ceiling, lighting, and cabinet doors.
In the Executive Residence, the East Room ceiling was repaired and repainted, marble on the State Floor was repaired and polished, and five doors at the South Portico were replaced. Other repairs and renovations were conducted in other areas both inside and outside the White House.
But this wasn’t the first time Trump has ordered renovations at the White House. Last year, the president also planned a White House makeover to coincide with his extended stay in Bedminster. Work completed in 2017, reportedly included renovations in the Oval Office and West Wing, an upgrade to the building’s HVAC system and structural work in the Executive resident, both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported.
Unsurprisingly, these renovations and redecorating don’t come cheap. NBC reported Trump spent at least $1.75 million on redecorating the White House and its associated offices in 2017 alone.
But Trump isn’t the only president to have given the White House something of a makeover. According to Architectural Digest, President Chester Arthur added Victorian flair in the early 1880s while Theodore Roosevelt ordered an expansion in 1902 that resulted in The West Wing. President Harry S. Truman was behind a major overhaul of the People’s House in the 1940s. Then in the early 1960s, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy led a major redecoration campaign, bringing historic art and artifacts in to the White House. Jimmy Carter added water-heating solar panels, which were reportedly removed by Ronald Regan and then reinstalled by George W. Bush.
In fact, most presidents do at least a little redecorating in order to infuse the Oval Office with their own personal style, as Business Insider has reported. While President Bill Clinton kept the gold drapes used by Bush, he replaced the neutral-toned carpet with one that was blue. And when President Barack Obama moved in, he opted for vertically striped wallpaper, red curtains (later replaced with gold ones), and a neutral rug woven to include inspirational quotes from figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.
To make the space feel his own, Trump chose a patterned white wallpaper and returned the gold drapes used during Bush and Clinton’s administrations to the windows. In 2017, an unnamed White House official told CBS News that Trump had "wanted to bring back the luster and the glory of the White House" with his redecoration.
While renovation and redecorating work has so far been a yearly tradition at Trump’s White House, it’s unclear if the president is done making over the White House or if there are additional plans and extended working vacations in the works for next year.