So, about the White House being a “dump.”
President Trump allegedly used the word to describe 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to some of his golf buddies, Sports Illustrated reported this week.
Trump tweeted that the anecdote was “totally untrue” and “fake news,” while SI’s senior golf writer, Alan Shipnuck, stood by his reporting, noting that Trump’s comment was heard by at least eight or nine people.
Many people didn’t like the dig. Former White House photographer Pete Souza posted a night-time photo of the White House’s elegant facade to his Instagram.
“Despite what some say, the White House is definitely not ‘a dump,’” he wrote. “What a shameful thing to say, or even think. It belittles the honorable men and women who make the White House the exemplary historical place it is, opening its doors to thousands of people every day.”
Michael S. Smith took exception, too. He’s the Los Angeles-based interior designer who decorated the White House for the Obamas.
“I had the great privilege of working in the White House for eight years, and everyone I know who visited was filled with a sense of awe and patriotism from the moment they walked into that storied structure,” Smith told People magazine.
“I’m extremely proud of the warmth and inclusiveness that defined the White House during the years in which I was involved.”
Smith decorated the rarely seen private quarters of the first family — including the dining and sitting rooms and master suite — and bedrooms for Malia, Sasha and first mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, according to People.
He also decorated the Oval Office, the Treaty Room — known as the president’s private study and where President Obama would read briefing materials late at night for the next day — and the Yellow Oval Room, often used for formal private receptions for VIPs.
“I was always deeply aware of the extraordinary events that had taken place within those walls over the years — events that defined our country — and how every decision by any former president, and the actions of his family, become an essential part of the living history of our nation,” he told People.
Architectural Digest featured the rarely seen rooms on the second floor of the White House in a cover story for its December 2016 issue, which came out on Election Day, Nov. 8.
The Obamas declined the $100,000 offered to new presidents to redecorate the residence and paid for the work themselves.
Architectural Digest noted that “considering the epochal achievements of the Obama administration — the Affordable Care Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, the Recovery Act, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and so much more — it seems trivial to append a footnote that reads, ‘The President and First Lady have a pretty chic dining room, too.’
“But the fact is, they do. And for anyone who appreciates the power of design, Michelle and Barack Obama’s emendations to the White House speak volumes about the sea change in American culture the two have championed for the past eight years.
“Adorned with an unprecedented array of 20th- and 21st-century artworks, their private quarters remain an oasis of civility and, yes, refined taste in a political arena so often bereft of both.”
To understand the historical context of the job he was about to undertake, Smith told Architectural Digest that he “read every letter and note from Abigail Adams, Jacqueline Kennedy, Sister Parish, Stephane Boudin, Kaki Hockersmith — anyone who had ever contributed to the history of this building.”
He called Nancy Reagan and took Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister, to lunch, too.
He said both Obamas were “drawn to elegant, simple things” and was struck by how many books they owned. The former first lady made it a priority to showcase work by artists never before seen in the White House.
He called the Obamas’ bedroom a “private, elegant and calm” sanctuary. “You really want to make sure that the president of the United States gets a good night’s sleep,” he told Architectural Digest.
He was always aware, he told People, of what made the White House much more than a personal residence.
“The White House itself is part office, part museum, part residence and it’s gloriously emblematic of the best of American style,” he told People. “It is beautifully cared for by a remarkable staff, and its rooms are filled with the treasures of presidents past.
“Each successive president and his family have left their own historic imprint on the White House, just as President Trump and his family will.”
First Lady Melania Trump hired New York designer Tham Kannalikham to decorate the family’s private quarters in the White House, WWD reported in February.
Little was known in design circles about Kannalikham before Trump hired her.
She once worked for Ralph Lauren Home and, as far as Architectural Digest could make out, the Laotian-American grew up in Stockton, Calif., studied for a couple of years at the Fashion Institute of Technology, has a taste for 18th-century buildings and is influenced by French, English, American and Irish culture.