Inside the White House: A look at the Bidens' new home

From bowling alleys to chocolate shops and swimming pools, take a look inside the world's most famous home and how each first family changed it
Inside the White House: A look at the Bidens' new home

Take a look inside the White House and how the first families have changed it. Picture: Ford Library Museum

Ever since Jackie Kennedy’s famous 1962 White House tour, the world has swooned over the priceless antiques and portraits littering 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which over half a million tourists visit each year. 

To this day, the plans that each family has for redecorating every four years are highly sought after secrets. 

From the choice of curtain colour for the Oval Office to the new toilet that is currently being installed in Dr Jill Biden’s future office, the interiors of the White House have captured our interest for as long as cameras have been allowed inside.

As the Trump family packs up today, we’ve run through everything you need to know about the halls the Biden family will grace from tomorrow. 

The building 

The plans for the White House were created by the country’s first president, George Washington, who commissioned an Irish architect named James Hoban to design the building in 1792. President John Adams was the first to move into the home in 1800. 

Today, the six-story building is home to 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, eight staircases, two swimming pools, a tennis court, and three elevators.

Included inside are the historic staterooms, the first family's private residence, countless offices, and the West Wing, where much of the business of the nation is conducted in rooms like the Oval Office and Situation Room. The two-story East Wing on the other side of the building belongs to the First Lady and her staff.

Both wings are connected to the main part of the building, although the Oval Office and Cabinet Room are the closest areas to the president’s residence connected by a colonnaded terrace which was President Obama's favorite part of the home.

President Bill Clinton in the White House's Music Room. Picture: Clinton Presidential Library

President Bill Clinton in the White House's Music Room. Picture: Clinton Presidential Library

Also inside the reinforced building, which sprawls over 18 acres of world-famous gardens such as the Rose garden, you’ll find a games room filled with pool tables, a private gym where Michelle Obama spent a lot of time, and a music room created by President Clinton for playing his saxophone. 

President Richard Nixon in the White House's bowling alley. Picture: Getty Images

President Richard Nixon in the White House's bowling alley. Picture: Getty Images

On the ground floor is a sprawling kitchen that is equipped to serve food to more than 1000 guests. Its next door chocolate shop is where all of the desserts are produced. Also located nearby is a bowling alley favored by President Nixon and a 42-seat movie theatre that shows any film the president requests. The first showcase for the Trump family was Pixar’s Finding Dory.

On the more boring front are the flower shop, calligraphy office, and the dedicated China Room, which houses the priceless china that is gifted to the house from all over the world. The silverware is housed separately in the Vermeil Room, which also showcases many of the portraits of the country’s First Ladies.

The first family’s quarters 

The East Sitting Hall in the family residence during the Bush era. Picture: White House Museum

The East Sitting Hall in the family residence during the Bush era. Picture: White House Museum

The first family resides on the second floor of the White House, where they have access to 16 rooms, including the famous Lincoln bedroom, a dining room, private offices, dressing rooms, a kitchen, six sitting areas, and six bathrooms.

The Reagans with Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the Yellow Oval Room. Picture: White House Museum

The Reagans with Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the Yellow Oval Room. Picture: White House Museum

Off the long main corridor and its 12-foot high ceilings, you’ll find access to the Truman balcony from the famous Yellow Oval Room, where the first family entertains famous guests. The Louis XVI style of its furnishings has changed little since the Kennedy era.

President Ford in the residence's kitchen. Picture: Life magazine

President Ford in the residence's kitchen. Picture: Life magazine

There wasn’t a kitchen in the residence until 1961 when Jackie Kennedy converted a bedroom into a small chef’s kitchen. The Clintons were the first to want a casual dining set up though, redecorating the room into a more informal area where they could have breakfast and President Clinton could watch football games.

The Treaty Room, the president’s private office inside the residence, is often reserved for important meetings. However, the Obamas have been pictured watching TV and eating snacks together in it during their time. 

The Obamas in the Treaty room. Picture: White House Museum

The Obamas in the Treaty room. Picture: White House Museum

Mamie Eisenhower used the floor’s Solarium for her bridge parties and the Johnson teenagers favored the room for hanging out with friends. The Clinton children similarly used the room for board games, whereas the Kennedys set it up as a Kindergarten for Caroline and Rosalynn Carter changed the room to a study area.

The East bedroom is usually home to the president's children, including Caroline Kennedy, whose room is pictured here.

The East bedroom is usually home to the president's children, including Caroline Kennedy, whose room is pictured here.

The bedrooms are one of the main parts of the household that tenants choose to redecorate. Caroline Kennedy was only three years old when her parents moved into the White House, so the toddler’s pink bedroom looked quite different from the room the Obama and Clinton teenagers had years later. The Obama children were famously told to make their own beds by their mother Michelle, who didn't want her kids to get used to having maids.

The main bedroom as decorated by the Reagans in 1981 and the Obamas in 2016. 

The main bedroom as decorated by the Reagans in 1981 and the Obamas in 2016. 

The Bidens' adult children won’t be joining them to live in the residence, but it is imagined that the spare bedrooms will be set up for their grandchildren.

Famous redecorations 

The Carter family often made use of the residence's informal dining room.

The Carter family often made use of the residence's informal dining room.

In 1902, President Roosevelt began a major renovation of the White House, including the relocation of the president’s offices from the Second Floor to the West Wing.

50 years later, the Trumans began renovations after the house started showing signs of structural deterioration. The family moved out for the rebuilding, moving back in in 1952 to show off the newly built Truman balcony, where President Trump would later appear in 2020 while fighting off Covid-19.

The Kennedys can be thanked for much of how the White House is today. Jackie Kennedy was the first to see the building as a museum and created the White House Historical Society to preserve the history of the president’s home. Using profits from a book she created about the house, the former First Lady went about investing in historical pieces of furniture and paintings and restoring items such as the Resolute Desk, which is used in the Oval Office.

Caroline and John Kennedy inside the Resolute Desk in President Kennedy's Oval Office.

Caroline and John Kennedy inside the Resolute Desk in President Kennedy's Oval Office.

President Roosevelt’s major changes included moving the Oval Office to its current location in 1934 and building the White House’s indoor swimming pool in 1933. President Ford similarly built the outdoor pool in 1975. President Obama was the first in decades to build a dedicated sports area on the plot, expanding the tennis court to allow for a basketball court.

How the Trumps decorated 

The State Dining room as decorated by President Roosevelt in 1902 and President Trump, who changed little from Michelle Obama's renovation.

The State Dining room as decorated by President Roosevelt in 1902 and President Trump, who changed little from Michelle Obama's renovation.

The president’s family gets $100,000 to redecorate their living and office spaces and works with the Historical Society to spend around $1 million on sprucing up the state areas every term.

The Trump family spent a rumored $1.75 million on their redecorations, which included $17,000 for custom rugs, $7,000 for furniture pedestals, and $5,000 for wallpaper, according to NBC News. It was also reported that the President spent $12,800 on a custom conference table.

The number isn’t significantly higher than the $1.5 million spent by the Obamas, however, but they have made it clear that some of that was out of their own pockets.

Also on the Trumps' bill were Melania’s renovations of the Rose garden, new carpets and paint in the West Wing, and a rumored installation of an extra two TVs and a lock on President Trump’s bedroom. Apparently, the Trumps are the first couple since the Kennedys to sleep in separate bedrooms.

On his inauguration day, the outgoing president started work on changing Obama’s Oval Office interior straight away, replacing the red curtains with the gold drapes that President Clinton had used, swapping out the rug for Ronald Reagan's one, and bringing back the cream couches from George W. Bush’s time in office.

The Oval Office as decorated by Presidents Obama and Trump. Pictures: Getty Images

The Oval Office as decorated by Presidents Obama and Trump. Pictures: Getty Images

Trump also had the wallpaper replaced, swapped Obama’s Childe Hassam painting for a portrait of Andrew Jackson, and returned a bust of Winston Churchill to the office. Contrary to many rumors, the President did indeed keep Obama’s favorite bust of Martin Lurther King Jr. in the office. 

Unlike his predecessors, Trump didn't keep a swathe of family photos behind his desk, instead decorating the table with photos of his parents, badges, and a letter from President Nixon saying he could be the president one day.

Meanwhile, Melania spruced up many of the staterooms, refreshing wallpaper and replacing worn-out rugs in areas like the Red and Blue rooms. She also upgraded the bowling alley and some of the displayed artwork. Michelle Obama had similarly left a mark on the staterooms, introducing work by Alma Thomas to the collection, making her the first African-American woman to have her art displayed in the White House.

It’s not yet clear what Dr Jill and President-elect Joe Biden have planned for the famous residence. However, the internet is sure to explode once the new first family is safely inside and news on how they intend to leave their own mark on the White House spreads.

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