This Is the Most Surprising Thing Melania Trump Changed When She Moved Into the White House
Donald Trump changed plenty of things when he moved into the White House. From the flags to the drapes, the artwork to the furniture, the new president put his own mark on various rooms in the White House. But what about Melania Trump? She famously waited a few months before joining her husband in Washington. That makes some people think that her move was contingent on a few carefully selected renovations.
We can’t exactly vouch for that theory. But we do have the details on the most surprising things that Melania Trump changed when she moved into the White House. And on page 14, check out one wild theory about what Melania insisted on having done before she would move to Washington.
1. Melania Trump hired a Ralph Lauren designer to change the White House’s private quarters
Women’s Wear Daily reported early in 2017 that Melania Trump had hired interior designer Tham Kannalikham to redecorate the White House’s private quarters. Kannalikham, a Laotian-American designer, got her start at Ralph Lauren Home in New York. (That pedigree may have appealed to the first lady.)
WWD noted that “While pundits and comedians have mused about the likelihood of an Oval Office adorned with gold and marble accents … their White House is likely to be more toned down given Kannalikham’s ethos.” Kannalikham has a traditional style and expertise in the fields of early American architecture and decorative arts. That likely made her the perfect choice to help Melania Trump redecorate the White House.
Next: Melania reportedly wanted a room dedicated to this.
2. The first lady reportedly planned a room specifically for hair, makeup, and wardrobe
Before Donald Trump even moved into the White House, Melania Trump reportedly already had plans to set up a designated room for hair, makeup, and wardrobe, according to Vanity Fair. Her longtime makeup artist supposedly said, “Melania wants a room with the most perfect lighting scenario.” That “perfect lighting” would “make our jobs as a creative team that much more efficient, since great lighting can make or break any look.”
It reportedly takes “one hour and 15 minutes of uninterrupted focus” to do the first lady’s makeup. That explains why Melania might want a well-appointed “glam room” at the White House.
Next: Congress gave the Trumps a budget to redecorate the White House.
3. Congress gave Melania Trump a $100,000 budget to redecorate
As NY Daily News reports, Melania Trump and her interior designer are allowed to redecorate the private living quarters of the first family. So what does that really mean? Interestingly enough, the private quarters include more than a dozen rooms over two floors. They can swap in their own furniture, bedding, rugs, and decorations. Plus, they can repaint the walls.
In fact, Congress set aside a $100,000 budget to cover renovations. But as the Daily News notes, the Trumps can decide “if they’d like to use it or pay out of pocket like the Obamas did.” Melania Trump can also choose from among the offerings of an actual warehouse of furniture and art available to the first family. This high-security facility is managed by a White House curator. And it houses works by artists including Georgia O’Keeffe and Norman Rockwell.
Next: The president and first lady didn’t exactly stick to the budget.
4. But Donald and Melania Trump spent almost $2 million redecorating
The $100,000 budget allotted by Congress pales in comparison to the money that Donald and Melania Trump actually spent redecorating the White House. NBC News reports that the Trumps spent “$1.75 million on furniture for the White House and offices tied to it.”
That figure includes $17,000 for custom rugs. It also encompasses the $7,000 that the Trumps spent for “furniture pedestals.” And it includes $5,000 worth of wallpaper. Of course, it’s unclear how much Melania had to do with the specifics of those choices. Yet some consider it notable that the Trumps spent more on redecorating than the $1.5 million spent by the Obamas over a similar period of time.
Next: You know what Donald Trump likes in interior design. But what about Melania Trump?
5. Melania Trump’s taste may be more understated than Donald Trump’s
We all know what Donald Trump likes in interior design. Some have linked the notoriously opulent style of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse to the example set by Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. And others have noted that Trump decorates at least a little bit like a dictator.
Yet Melania Trump probably favors a more understated aesthetic than her husband. Or at least one based on a different period of European history. Architectural Digest counts “Eighteenth-century buildings, interiors, and culture — French, English, American, Irish” among the passions of the interior designer whom Melania hired. Kannalikham appreciates Irish country houses and Greek revival libraries, slightly different inspirations than Donald Trump’s.
Next: The Trumps can’t make big changes to these historic rooms at the White House.
6. They weren’t allowed to change anything in the historic rooms
Some Trump critics worried that Donald Trump and Melania Trump would redecorate the White House in marble and gold leaf. But as NY Daily News notes, there was never much likelihood of that. In fact, neither Donald Trump nor Melania Trump can make major alterations to the mansion’s historic rooms. (That includes the Lincoln Bedroom, the Green Room, and the state dining room.) To make changes, they’d need the approval of a committee.
In addition to the rules about redecorating the rooms of historic significance, Melania Trump also has to respect rules against making any “sweeping, irreversible changes,” as the Daily News puts it. Changes like knocking down walls, for instance, probably won’t happen under Melania Trump. Nor under any subsequent first lady.
Next: Rumor has it that Melania Trump has one of these, separate from Donald’s.
7. Melania Trump chose her own bedroom, separate from Donald’s
Michael Wolff’s controversial book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, made headlines for numerous reasons. One of the most talked-about revelations in the book? That Melania Trump and Donald Trump reportedly sleep in separate bedrooms at the White House. As Newsweek reports, the book alleges that first couples “have not slept separately since the days of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.”
Interestingly enough, Wolff wasn’t the first to report that Melania Trump has her own bedroom. A source told Us Weekly that the couple doesn’t share a bed, no matter what. “They have separate bedrooms. They never spend the night together — ever.” The revelation fueled speculation about the state of the Trumps’ marriage. Yet Newsweek notes that sleeping in separate beds isn’t necessarily a sign of a rocky marriage.
Next: This member of the family also needed a bedroom at the White House.
8. Melania probably designed a bedroom for Barron
When Melania Trump moved to the White House, she brought her son Barron with her. So it stands to reason that when she made redecorating plans, she planned something special for Barron’s room. The Obamas had two young daughters living with them during their time in the White House. But Today notes that Barron is the first young boy to live in the White House in about 50 years.
The publication explains, “The last first son was John F. Kennedy Jr., who lived at the White House until his father’s 1963 assassination just three days before his third birthday.”
Next: Melania Trump may have had an opinion on this aspect of the White House’s decor.
9. The first lady might have helped choose what art to request for the White House
We haven’t heard a lot about Melania Trump’s taste in art. But it seems safe to assume that she and the president have spoken, at least in passing, about what kind of art they wanted for their private quarters at the White House. The Guggenheim recently made quite a stir when it responded to the Trumps’ request for van Gogh’s Landscape with Snow. The van Gogh wasn’t available, so the museum offered Maurizio Cattelan’s 18-karat golden toilet, titled America, instead.
Unfortunately, that’s not the first time that the art world had a laugh at Donald Trump’s expense. A Trump biographer made headlines by recalling a time when Trump characterized a painting on the wall of his private jet as an original by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The only problem? The original is owned by the Art Institute in Chicago. And art historians report that Renoir never made duplicates of his oil paintings.
Next: Melania Trump made only minor changes here.
10. She’s made only minor changes to the White House grounds
Some Trump critics worried that Melania Trump would get rid of the vegetable garden that Michelle Obama had planted on the White House grounds. But the first lady definitely didn’t do that. She hasn’t made any other major changes to the presidential gardens, either.
The only notable change so far? Melania Trump approved the removal of a large portion of a magnolia tree that Andrew Jackson reportedly planted. But she isn’t indiscriminately chopping down trees. As NPR notes, the tree has had issues with rot for decades. It had been relying on artificial support for years, and is in danger of falling. Plus, Melania asked for the wood to be preserved and for seedlings to be kept for future plantings.
Next: The first lady continued a tradition begun by Michelle Obama.
11. In fact, Melania has tended to Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden
Disproving the critics who expected her to neglect or demolish the garden, Melania Trump “embraced” Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden, according to Politico. The current first lady famously hosted schoolchildren at an event to “harvest and replant the vegetable garden Michelle Obama rooted in the South Lawn — carrying on a symbolic piece of the Obamas’ food policy legacy,” Politico notes.
The group harvested lettuce, kale, peas, radishes, Swiss chard, and mustard. And they also planted cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, carrots, spinach, and kale. Plus, Melania sent the children home with gardening kits and honey from the White House beehive.
Next: Melania’s choices in this kind of decor caused a major controversy.
12. Melania Trump unveiled some controversial holiday decorations
Melania Trump has tried to avoid controversy so far during her husband’s presidency. But as Vox notes, the first lady chose holiday decorations that were “either a magical glimpse of a stunning winter wonderland or a nightmare pulled straight out of a horror movie,” depending on whom you ask.
Trump critics were quick to cast the decorations in a negative light. And memes comparing a few photos to horror films quickly circulated the internet. But as Vox notes, “not everyone was so quick to judge — and in some corners of social media, particularly on Instagram, both the photos and the narrative were much brighter.” The publication added, “No matter your opinion of Melania Trump, it’s clear that her time in the White House so far has been marked by scrutiny.”
Next: The Trumps won’t get to make this addition to the White House.
13. She won’t be getting a White House ballroom
As NY Daily News notes, the president and his family can add something new and “significant” to the White House. Think: the Kennedys’ swimming pool, Truman’s bowling alley, Eisenhower’s screening room, or Obama’s redesigned tennis-and-basketball court. Those changes all required approval. Donald and Melania Trump can make a similarly large change. But we know that at least one idea was shot down.
ABC News explains that the Obama administration rejected Donald Trump’s offer to build a $100 million ballroom inside the executive mansion. Trump, as president-elect, reportedly floated the idea to Obama aide David Axelrod. We’re not sure what kind of contribution Melania Trump wants to make to the White House. But it’s safe to say that it won’t be that expansive ballroom.
Next: Melania probably didn’t have this done at the White House, despite the rumors.
14. Conspiracy theorists think she had an exorcism done before she moved into the White House
Conspiracy theorists have come up with some pretty strange theories about what Melania Trump wanted changed before she moved into the White House. One of the most bizarre? A recent report claimed that Melania had an exorcism done at the White House before she moved to Washington. The theory sounds a little too far-fetched for most of us. (While it might make sense to cast out the ghosts of political feuds past, we doubt that Melania actually had an exorcism performed.)
But one pastor claims that the exorcism was necessary to rid the White House of “Haitian witch doctor influence” that followed Bill and Hillary Clinton back from their honeymoon in Haiti. It was also reportedly needed to remove demonic forces associated with “idol gods and images and all kinds of artifacts” that resided in the Obama White House. The pastor claims that Melania told Donald Trump, “I’m not going to go into that White House unless it has been completely exorcised.”
Next: This aspect of Melania’s redecorating efforts is at least a little surprising.
15. The public knows surprisingly little about Melania’s redecorating efforts
Various publications have gleaned some details about Melania’s taste in interior design and the scope of the Trumps’ redecorating efforts at the White House. But Romper points out that America knows surprisingly little about how Melania Trump has changed the White House.
“The tradition of redecoration is generally a lighthearted and public affair, with the first lady divulging all the decor details to curious Americans,” the publication notes. Michelle Obama, for instance, regularly shared information about her designs with Vogue or Architectural Digest. Melania Trump isn’t obligated to follow suit. And at least so far, she hasn’t felt the need to share much about the newly redesigned private quarters at the White House.
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