The Obamas' Interior Decorator Releases Photos Of Their Self-Funded $1.5 Million White House Renovation

See how our favorite first family lived during their 8-year stay, including a design detail that Barack initially didn't like.

If you’ve ever daydreamed about walking through the halls of the White House during the Obamas’ eight-year stay, you’re in luck! 

In a newly-released book titled, Designing History: The Extraordinary Art & Style of the Obama White House, the Obamas’ entrusted interior designer Michael S. Smith gives us all a behind-the-scenes look into what it took to create the perfect home for the family of four.




Highlighting all the detailed work—including a $1.5 million renovation of the residence that the Obamas paid out of pocket—the $60 book featuring 372 color photographs and illustrations is undoubtedly a must-have for any coffee table or bookshelf. 

According to a press release obtained by the Daily Mail, the book explores how the house “reflected the youthful spirit of the first family and their vision of a more progressive, inclusive American society.”

Along with behind-the-scenes stories of the redecorating efforts, the images showing the living quarters of the 44th president and his family are worthy of conversation—especially since the book was described as “both a historical document and a voyeur's delight.”

Highlights of the book include taking a glimpse inside our forever POTUS and FLOTUS’ master bedroom.  The warm and neutral room, where Barack and Michelle slept, seemed to echo the couple’s warm disposition. 

(Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

(Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

“It was personally very important to me to design a master bedroom that would be a true refuge for the president and first lady,” Smith shared.

Overlooking the South Lawn below, the naturally sunlit room featured design elements chosen by Michelle—including an early 19th-century American high-post bed with a canopy that Mr. Obama wasn’t too excited about initially.

“I had proposed a canopy bed to them early on, and though the president wasn’t keen on the idea at first, he graciously deferred to his wife, saying, ‘If Michelle wants it, then we can have it,’” Smith recalled.

He continued, “It’s ironic, but nearly everyone who is initially hesitant when I suggest a canopy bed ends up loving it. I find it creates a real sanctuary in a room, a retreat within a retreat — and it can be especially helpful in establishing a sense of architecture within a minimalist space.”

It is interesting to note that the Obamas, who moved in during the Great Recession, turned down the $100,000 in taxpayer money typically allotted to new presidents to redecorate. Instead, the family financed their own redecorations and used methods like budget-shopping and borrowing art from museums to help keep interior designing costs down.

And this is why they are our forever favorites! 

To see more highlights of the home—including their antique furniture, art loaned by museums, and a pair of Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves autographed “to Barack,”—you may want to get your hands on this iconic book that was released today! 

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.