Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Wallpaper and First Ladies

Mention the White House and design in the same sentence and controversy is sure to begin. Since 1800, when President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, occupied the residence, each First Family has made changes and additions. Some First Ladies have been resourceful in securing private funds to spruce up the landmark, and they have used their position to promote American craftsmen and small businesses.

For example, in the early 1960s when Jackie Kennedy selected Morgantown glassware produced in West Virginia for official White House use, she apparently wanted to highlight an authentic American craft and, at the same time, assist a seriously impoverished region.  

Of course, the private quarters of the White House are where most First Ladies put their personal stamp. Can you guess which First Lady selected this handpainted wallpaper with guidance from an iconic design firm?

Speaking of Jackie, check out Rubie Green's new cotton named for the tastemaker.

Click here for a related past post.

The glassware show here is the "President's House" made by Morgantown. Images are courtesy
Replacements. Visit Old Morgantown to learn more.


Anonymous said...

I know! I know! But I'm not going to be a smarty soon after posting. Suffice to say there was a lot of controversy over the decoration, even though it was paid for by private donations.

Anonymous said...

Another brilliant post, Courtney! I wonder whom Cindy McCain would hire as an official decorator vs. Michelle Obamma's selection. Perhaps Charlotte Moss for the former and Mary McDonald for the latter? Though, I'd like to see Bunny William's point of view lovingly applied.

Style Court said...

Thanks Michael!

Every time time the subject comes up, Moss and Williams are suggested and rightly so. I like your idea of Mary McDonald! And I know many people hope to one day see Miles Redd, Sheila Bridges or Daryl Carter work at the White House.

Whatever happens, I think in 2009 the public would only want to hear about a privately funded revamp:)

Style Court said...

Halcyon -- maybe you are the only one who knows the wallpaper answer!!

Karen Orr said...

Nancy Reagan selected the wallpaper under the guidance of her decorator Ted Graber.

The wallpaper is lovely but the rest of the room looks dull to me, at least in the photographs.

Karen Orr
Gainesville, Florida

Style Court said...

I was hoping this would be a "Mrs. Blandings" style pop quiz with multiple guesses. But I did not do a very good job of setting it up :)

Clearly Karen and Halcyon knew. I'll be back with more detailed info on the history and connection between Billy Haines, Mrs. Reagan and Graber.

Ivy Lane said...

I am going to guess... Lady Bird Johnson....

LOVE Rubie Green's new fabric!

It certainly will be fun and interesting to see who the new First Lady picks to re-vamp or enhance the White House!

I love the idea of Sheila Bridges..

Now that there are so many design bloggers out there, it is going to be extra fun to read and discuss all the details! Who knows..maybe there will be a new reality show..."White House Decor"... or "Decorate THIS House"...or.... Sorry..can't think of anything too catchy right now!! you get the idea!

Ivy Lane said...

oopppssss...major oopppsss...I skipped down to the comment box and did not see Karen's answer.. okay... it's been a long weekend..trying to catch up on all you fabulous people!!!

The pattern of the wallpaper is as delicate and Nancy!

Style Court said...

Ivy -- I can totally see why you guessed Lady Bird!

Creative ideas by the way. I do think Bridges would be an unexpected but perhaps inspired choice.

Anonymous said...

Love this post Courtney, hope you're well : )

Anonymous said...

Okay my guess would be too late but I'm also super crazy about the mirror I've been looking at a bunch of stuff like this in our travels and on 1st dibs. It was fun to see it turn up here.

Happy Sunday!

Style Court said...

Thank you Robyn! Hope you are well too.

Style Court said...

Stacy -- it is a great mirror, especially against the wallpaper. Happy Sunday to you as well!

Style Court said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Blandings said...

Maybe this will inspire a pop quiz for this week (I am oh-so-weary.) The secret isn't in the difficulty - it's the lazy delay in posting the answers that keeps everyone guessing. You also have to outwit the cheaters. (You know who you are, Joni.)

MABELLE said...

Thanks Courtney :D I've included a photo of Jackie's White House dressing room in my latest post, which serves as the inspiration for naming my print ;)