New book includes some of Melania Trump’s White House decorating


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During her husband’s four years in office, Melania Trump and her interior designer, Tham Kannalikham, declined interview and photography requests about the decorating of the second-floor rooms and private quarters of the White House. But photos in the new 60th anniversary edition of “The White House: An Historic Guide” reveal that there was a whole lot of swagging, fringing and gilding going on upstairs.

All presidential families leave their mark on the White House, although they don’t know how long their design changes will stay in place. This 26th edition of the official guide — published by the White House Historical Association, which funds much of the refurbishing — was released July 28, the birthday of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. She nurtured the idea of the White House as a living museum and conceived the guidebook in 1962 to give visitors a comprehensive reference guide to it.

This edition includes images of rooms from a number of administrations, such as Laura Bush’s redo of the Lincoln Bedroom with designer Ken Blasingame and the Treaty Room decorated by Michael S. Smith for the Obamas. It also includes foldout pages of the Green, Blue and Red Rooms, comments by 12 first ladies about living in the historic spaces, and a first look at several second-floor rooms decorated during the Trump era.

‘The First Lady’ re-created over 100 years of White House interiors

While Melania Trump’s preservation efforts in the historic public rooms, such as the Blue Room and Red Room, and her redo of the iconic Rose Garden were well documented in the press, she and Kannalikham remained mum about what they did upstairs.

Although the rooms were photographed last fall during the Biden administration, the images of the Yellow Oval Room and the Center Hall upstairs reflect design work done under the Trumps, Kannalikham’s office confirmed. The Center Hall, which runs across the length of the house, is lined with artworks.

The Yellow Oval room, where the president holds small receptions and greets guests of honor before State Dinners, appears to have a mix of antiques from the White House collections, along with heavier fringed sofas with lots of pillows and new swagged curtains. A custom rug was woven for the large room. According to Stewart D. McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, “The rug is an American-made rug we funded to go in this space. Mrs. Trump was very involved in the style and design of this rug, which includes roses, blue ribbons and a yellow border and trellis motif that goes around the perimeter of the rug.”

Betty Monkman, former White House curator, also spotted 18th-century French tables that were acquired during the Kennedy administration and gilded candelabra that were a gift from Britain. “I think the room still retains an elegance about it,” Monkman says.

The Queens’ Bedroom, one of two principal guest suites for important visitors, was totally reimagined by Melania Trump and Kannalikham. The formerly deep salmon walls are now a much paler shade, and there is a light rug with a floral border. A gilded bed with elaborate hangings replaces the four-poster carved wood bed thought to have belonged to Andrew Jackson, which had been in the room for decades.

“I don’t recognize that new bed from the White House collection,” Monkman says. “The hangings have a sort of French look, and if you look at old photos of Jackie Kennedy’s bedroom at the White House it has this sort of French crown with similar hangings. Taking away the heavy four poster bed gives the room a lighter, more feminine look.”

In an email, Kannalikham did not share details about the furnishings used in the upstairs rooms, but had this to say about the project.

“With designing the interiors, whether it was the public rooms or the private quarters, first lady Melania Trump and I had a very similar vision with the goal of incorporating design…



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