The First Decorator

The First Decorator

Gregory Han
Feb 18, 2008

Besides the Reagans bringing a bit of Hollywood into the Oval Office back in the 1980's, did you know that Nancy Reagan was responsible for hiring Los Angeles interior designer Ted Graber, once dubbed the "First Decorator" of the White House. Known for his "trend-resistant traditional" style that infused classical elements with a hint of modernity which caused quite a ruckus back in the day, the changes made sometimes referred to as "Beverly Hills class". An interesting read about decor in the White House with another link under the jump.

In the early days of the committee, experts were rarely consulted. ''Before the Reagan administration, almost all the members were political appointees and didn't have any training in the decorative arts,'' Mr. Wilmerding said. ''The depoliticizing of the committee was very good.''

Though the committee seldom met during the Reagan administration -- Clement Conger, then the White House curator, had been critical of the work done by Mrs. Reagan's decorator, Ted Graber -- it was revitalized by Barbara Bush, who also supported the creation of the White House endowment with money from wealthy donors. It stands at $28 million today and provides funds for acquisitions and for redecorating the public rooms, which are in constant use for official functions. Though Congress is responsible for the upkeep of the house, it no longer controls the purse strings for redecoration, which can be useful for a president who doesn't share the political orientation of the Congressional majority. As honorary chairwoman of the Preservation Committee, Mrs. Clinton attended all nine meetings.

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