WASHINGTON – Michelle Obama has given a touch-up to the White House State Dining Room, the latest interior design change that will endure long after she leaves the building.
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Her modest changes to the room where many dinners and other events are held follow this year's more dramatic remake of the Old Family Dining Room and the unveiling of the Obama china service.
Silk draperies with vertical stripes of peacock blue and ecru replace curtains made of ivory silk brocade and designed with flowers, baskets and ribbons. The blue in the draperies echoes the "Kailua" blue that trims the modern-inspired china service the first lady unveiled in April and recalls the waters that surround President Barack Obama's home state of Hawaii.
Mahogany side chairs and arm chairs, custom-made in North Carolina, replace a set that was upholstered in a golden yellow fabric.
The new chairs are done in a brown, grid-patterned "horsehair" fabric and trimmed with brass nail heads. They were modeled after arm chairs that President James Monroe acquired for the East Room in 1818 from a cabinetmaker in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, according to White House curator William Allman.
The gradual refurbishment has been under way since new custom-made, wool rugs arrived in 2012. The rug design used elements of the room's ceiling to create a border of continuous wreaths and a blue-green mottled field designed with oak leaves. Two rugs were made so they can be switched out for cleaning.
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An advisory panel, the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, approved the upgrades.
The $590,000 tab was paid by the White House Endowment Trust. The private fund is administered by the White House Historical Association for the maintenance and upkeep of White House rooms that are open to the public, such as the Blue, Red and Green Rooms, the East Room and the State Dining Room.
The State Dining Room was last refurbished in 1998, during the administration of President Bill Clinton.
In February, Mrs. Obama unveiled an updated look for the Old Family Dining Room, a smaller dining room adjacent to the State Dining Room on the first floor.
She exchanged its sunny yellow walls and drapery and light-toned rug for gray walls, contrasting red draperies and a wool rug in a weave of black, white and gray. Four works of American abstract art, a favorite of the Obama family, were also donated to the permanent White House art collection and put on display in the Old Family Dining Room.
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