The video: While the First Family vacationed in Martha's Vineyard last week, designers were busily giving the world's most iconic executive office a face lift in "neutral tones." (View the result below.) Custom coffee-colored sofas face off across a minimalist coffee table (tiled in walnut and mica), while the formerly eggshell-colored walls sport handmade gold striped wallpaper. The biggest change: A new rug adorned with quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and other luminaries. Though the redo's cost is estimated at $20,000, press secretary Robert Gibbs insists no taxpayer money was used.
The reaction: Critics are split on the shift away from red, white, and blue formality to more contemporary "comfort." The Oval Office now resembles an upscale hotel conference room, scoffs New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, and the timing's a bit bone-headed: "Obama clearly needs a reminder about what really counts as the Democrats prepare to get their clocks cleaned." Interior designer Mario Buatta, as quoted in The Washington Post, finds the sofas too casual and notes a relative lack of "regard for... history and tradition." Watch a commentary-free overview of the makeover below:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- These 5 things will definitely happen after Obama moves on immigration
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- What could happen if the Supreme Court rules against ObamaCare
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Hillary Clinton needs to win big in 2016. Here's how she can do it.
- Why are newspaper comics so terrible?
- On immigration, Obama is flirting with tyranny
- The GOP's best response to Obama's immigration move: Toothless griping
- 10 things you need to know today: November 20, 2014
Subscribe to the Week