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:
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