Presidential decorating: the Obamas will soon leave their Chicago home for the White House
by Jay Johnson, New York Home Design Examiner
Barack Obama's classic rise-to-greatness story is an American fable that we've been transfixed by for months. President Bush just gave a gracious speech saying that it will be inspiring for all of us to see Obama, his wife Michele, and their two daughters walk through the White House door for the first time now that he is the president elect.
It's unusual for us to think of the White House as somebody's home because it's truly a symbol of our nation. Yet it's also a mansion, and it does get decorated and redecorated. I'm wondering if Obama's motto of CHANGE will apply to the decor in the mansion where he and his young family will be living for at least the next four years.
When I did consulting work for Weekly Reader (yes, the classroom magazine you fondly remember from your childhood is still very much alive and kicking), I had the fun of putting together a stand-up poster of the White House. It was an artistic view of the front of the mansion by a children's book illustrator, a favorite of Laura Bush who had illustrated one of the Bushes' holiday greeting cards. The illustrator, Cheryl Shaw Barnes, has done charming books about Washington DC and the legislative process for young children (like House Mouse, Senate Mouse). She was sketching the White House for the Weekly Reader project, and she had gotten special permission from Mrs. Bush to stand on the front lawn to get a better view of all the details.