White House upgrade: First lady's done a lot with the place
18 Sep 2019
Restored furniture is seen in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington.
Like anyone who has ever spruced up their home, Melania Trump will have a few new touches to showcase Friday when guests visit the White House for only the second state dinner of the Trump presidency.
There's refreshed wall fabric in the Red Room, repurposed draperies in the Green Room and restored furniture in the Blue Room.
And those are just some of the home improvement projects the first lady has overseen to keep the well-trod public rooms at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. looking their museum-quality best.
Some of the projects were long overdue.
The restoration was part of the improvement projects that first lady Melania Trump had overseen.
Sunlight streaming into the Red Room had left some of the wall fabric "so faded it was almost pink," said Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, which helps finance upkeep of some rooms in the 132-room mansion.
Mrs. Trump, who keeps a relatively low profile as first lady, has put her interest in history to use overseeing the restoration projects.
"Our family is grateful to live in this true symbol of our nation's history, but we are even more honored to play a part in restoring and enhancing our country's sacred landmark," she said at a May reception.
A portrait of former first lady Edith Roosevelt is seen in the Green Room of the White House.
The first lady designed a new rug for the Diplomatic Reception Room, the main entrance off the South Lawn, after foot traffic wore a path across the old one, McLaurin said. The replacement has a border showing the flowers of the 50 states, a touch added by the first lady.
Decor upgrades are a bit more complicated at the White House than for typical homeowners.
The White House serves several purposes: It's an office for the president and his staff, a home for his family and a living museum. Approximately half a million tourists visit every year, apart from dignitaries and others who attend receptions and other events.
"The White House does get a lot of wear and tear," McLaurin said.