White House decorator Michael Smith says he’ll be “utilizing affordable brands” to make the presidential mansion a home for the new first family — but that doesn’t mean Barack and Michelle Obama will have to skimp on style.
High style does not have to break a budget, whether in the White House or in your own house, celebrity designers told FOXNews.com.Call it Main Street Chic.
The Obamas, their daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, and the first lady-to-be’s mother, Marian Robinson, will all be moving into their new home Tuesday, soon after the president-elect takes the oath of office. Smith has a budget of $100,000 to decorate the first family’s living quarters.
Using furniture and accessories from stores like Target, Kohl’s and Ikea, Smith should be able to create a stylish environment for the first family, designers said.
“You have people like Target and Ikea that hire extremely talented designers to design their furniture for them and meld into that design process, making it affordable,” said John Gidding, a host of HGTV’s Designed to Sell.
Ikea has even created a faux Oval Office in Washington’s Union Square train station and posted an Oval Office online that users can create in their homes, decorated with Ikea furniture.
Gidding’s design for the Obamas’ master bedroom, imagined for an issue of Life & Style magazine, features contemporary furniture that includes a custom-made bed and highlights the molding and details of the room’s design.
“They’re really going to have a much less formal approach to their interior design; I think the direction the Obamas are going to take the White House — figuratively and literally — is going to be completely different than what we’ve had before,” Gidding said.
For Malia and Sasha, Gidding recommends going for a theme and letting the girls choose based on what interests them. “Kids’ are the only rooms that you can have in a thematic approach,” he said.
She said she would want to give the Obamas’ residence a timeless feel and envisions bold patterns decorating the Obamas’ living quarters, like a black and white geometric floor pattern in the entranceway.
Hicks, who is a mother of four, says she’d try to design Malia and Sasha’s rooms to suit their environment and not “design down” because they are children.
“I think you want quite a grown-up room, especially at 7 and 10. They’re in a serious house in a serious job, so you want a certain seriousness to it, but then you can always have playful hints around the room, making each room very individual,” she said.
The result should be interiors that are not showrooms but authentic family dwellings, a genuine home that exudes a sense of lived-in style, revealing the character of the president and his family, Hicks said.
“Personal collections of books, photographs and paintings always turn a house into a home,” she said.
Hicks suggests “crisp but comfortable traditionalism, smartly tailored upholstery adding up to a seductive atmosphere of low-key style.”
A left-handed chaise from Ikea for $349, pedestal side table in dark walnut from Target for $90.99 or Target’s Alexander side table in gray, also $90.99, would be ideal, she said.
In the master bedroom she would put the king-size Gate headboard from Anthropologie for $1,548, and in the girls’ room the Italian campaign canopy bed in twin sizes for $1,250 each.
The main living room should be in a calming neutral color, she said, with white cupboards and porcelain blue curtains. A Pottery Barn Jute basket weave rug ($299) would work well in a living room, along with classic column table lamps in antique silver ($140 each).
The Restoration Hardware Camden round extension table ($1,625), which seats up to eight people and is handcrafted in American maple, would be ideal for the dining room, Hicks said.
Gidding said he sees formality taking its leave for comfort and function in the Obama White House.
“(Barack and Michelle Obama) grew up relatively underprivileged and now they happen to be the first family,” he said. “When you have a background like that, as opposed to a president that comes from a lineage of presidents, you have an entirely different approach to their surroundings.”
But while they can bring in individuality and contemporary, fresh design, the Obamas can’t ignore the history and gravitas of the White House.
Every room in the White House has a story and a reason for its design, Gidding said. “But even the most hallowed historic structures are due for an update at one point or another. We can’t always be looking back. We have to be looking forward.”