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
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The Obama administration's nonstop incoherence on ISIS
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- 6 super-helpful iOS8 tricks you probably don't know about
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- The European Union was supposed to end nationalism. It gave it new life instead.
Subscribe to the Week