The Who2 Blog

Which Oval Office Rug is Your Favorite?

What color rug would YOU put in the Oval Office if you were president?

A company called The Rug Seller has been bombarding us with requests to run their “infographic” on Oval Office rug decor, presumably so that the site link will make them money. Their little ploy has worked! We’re running it despite the subterfuge because it’s pretty cool.

Take a gander at presidential rug history and then meet me at the bottom for a few comments.

White House Renovations Rugs & Interior Design

It’s not an official law that each president gets to choose his own rug, but every president since Richard Nixon has done it sooner or later. With one exception: Jimmy Carter saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars by keeping the same perfectly useful carpet put down by Gerald Ford. It’s one more reason why President Carter is so beloved by conservatives today.

The Gerald Ford carpet, seen in an Oval Office reproduction at the Carter Library

Ronald Reagan actually kept that Ford-Carter carpet for a few years before giving in to redecoration (and $200,000 worth of new china), and I rather like it. The blossoms look dated now, but a bit of color like that goes well in there. It makes you wonder when our first punk president will order carpet with ironic red, white and blue skulls. (Isn’t Mike Huckabee a fan of the Grateful Dead?)

Looks like even the leader of the free world has to use one of those terrible plastic rug protectors under his office chair, and that’s sad.

Barack Obama also redid the Oval Office in 2010, choosing a soothing beige pattern with famous quotes woven into the rim. His critics naturally said his rug was pessimistic and Marxist. Well, you can’t please ’em all.

Barack Obama sits behind the heavy and ornate wood Resolute desk

But I would mostly like to speak out on the Oval Office desk. The fad for the last 50 years has been to use this hardwood monster made from the timbers of the Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute. (It was originally a gift from Queen Victoria to boring old Rutherford B. Hayes.) 

The desk is well-known to Kennedy buffs: Jackie Kennedy dug it out of the White House basement in a fit of stylish fancy and JFK became the first to put the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.  

A young boy pops through a panel in the leg hole of JFK's big desk

You probably remember this photo of John Kennedy, Jr. popping through the front panel of the desk in 1963. (Franklin Roosevelt had that panel put in to keep people from seeing his leg braces when he used the desk in his private study.)

It’s a lovely photo and a lovely historic desk, but I hereby go on record as saying that it’s time to swap it out. For one thing, it’s just a little too regal, and the last thing we probably need in the Oval Office is more reason for presidents to feel like they’re residents of Buckingham Palace.

Secondly, at this point the Resolute Desk has become just a little too iconic, like the lapel flag pin that every president and candidate must now wear at all times or be branded a traitor. When some poor president finally does decide to swap the desk out, we’re going to spend the first two weeks of their administration talking about why they hate America instead of about actual policy. That will be unbearable.

Let’s slip the HMS Resolute desk back down in the White House basement and leave it for some other First Lady or First Gentleman to dig up in another 50 years and restore triumphantly to the Oval Office. Along with new carpet.

Thank you, you sneaky devils at The Rug Sellers, for a very lively illustration!

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