Interior Design Trends

This History of Decor in the Oval Office

Though each president has kept the layout of the room virtually unchanged, there have been some significant shifts in the decor over the years.

The Oval Office in the West Wing of the White House holds a special place in Americans’ hearts. Though very few of us have stepped foot in the president’s lair, the spacious room plays a major role in the day-to-day happenings of the country’s most important decision-makers. The American public knows the space best from seeing it featured in popular films and television shows, as well as recognizing it as the backdrop for a handful of memorable speeches.

Though each president has kept the layout of the room virtually unchanged, there have been some significant shifts in the decor over the years. Air-purifying plants and decorative globes are a common fixture, as is the separate, more comfortable seating area for visitors in the center of the room.

Oval Office Interior Design

Looking back over the years, it seems it was common for POTUS to pull two chairs alongside the main desk facing forward so that his closest advisors could lean in close and share their expertise.

It is interesting to see which aspects of the office each president kept in place from his predecessor and which decorations were the first to go when he was sworn into office. Over the decades, several leaders seemed perfectly content with the carpet from the man before him, while the drapes were often the first item to be updated to better reflect the times. The window coverings play an important role in enhancing the decor and giving each office a touch of customization

Looking at these previous generations of the office, it is amusing to think about what’s next for the space. Depending on whom is sworn into office, the room could take on a number of different looks. Will the next update involve lots of gaudy golds? Will the decorator stick to classic red, white, and blue? Or, perhaps the room will reflect a more feminine aesthetic? One can only guess…

From the rich mahoganies and clutter of FDR’s office, to the all-out preppy Americana styling of the Clinton space, and eventually to Obama’s simple neutrals with a pop of color that we know today, check out how the furniture, window coverings, and general office decor have shifted over the various presidential terms in this nostalgia-inducing morphing gif.

Image Attribution:
“Reagan’s Oval Office replica” by Dave Herholz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Bush Library Oval Office Replica” by George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0



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