See the Obamas' White House private quarters for the first time

America, welcome to the private quarters of the Obama White House. Now that they're leaving.

Architectural Digest magazine published exclusive photos Tuesday giving the public a first-ever look at the second floor of the White House where President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, their two teen daughters, Malia and Sasha, and their Portuguese water dogs, Bo and Sunny, have lived for nearly eight years.

The magazine put the story on its December cover, out nationally on Election Day, Nov. 8, and just one month before the Obamas depart for a temporary mansion in Washington where they will live at least until Sasha graduates from high school.

The Obamas' residence refurbishing was produced by Los Angeles-based interior designer Michael Smith, who also decorated the Oval Office. He was picked for the high-profile job in January 2009, after a mutual friend in Chicago introduced him to the Obamas after the 2008 election.

Smith has kept mum ever since. So have the Obamas. And no other publication has managed to get inside to do a spread.

The Obamas declined the $100,000 in government funds allotted to new presidents to redecorate the residence and instead paid for the redo themselves, so it's not clear how much it cost.

But Mrs. O loves it. She told AD that Smith was able to incorporate her family's tastes while respecting the history of the White House.

"Above all, it has truly felt like a home for our family," she said.

Smith described his work as a response to Mrs. O's progressive spirit.

“Mrs. Obama often talks about bringing new voices into the national conversation, and that idea informed many of the decisions we made,” he told the magazine. “We selected artists and designers who would never have appeared in the White House before.”

In giving direction, he said, the Obamas were "very focused, and they laid out their preferences quite clearly. They’re drawn to elegant, simple things.”

The photos show the Yellow Oval Room; the Treaty Room, where Obama retreats late at night to read briefing material for the next day; a sitting room; a dining room; and the master bedroom. The rooms are adorned with a variety of modern and contemporary art borrowed from major art institutions, such as the National Gallery of Art and Smithsonian museums.

In the Yellow Oval Room, art by Paul Cézanne and Daniel Garber flank the mantel. Smith mellowed the look of the room with smoky browns, greens, golds, and blues. The 1978 Camp David peace accords were signed at the antique Denis-Louis Ancellet desk.

Architectural Digest is a go-to publication for White House occupants: It has also published photos of the private White House living quarters of Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and George W. Bush.

Amy Astley, the editor in chief of AD, said the Obamas' personal style, and the history and diversity of the nation, are reflected in their art and decor choices.

The master bedroom is decorated in beige hues and has an antique canopy bed covered in fine Italian linen. Identical, footed tables flank the bed, one bearing family photos and one stacked with books. Matching, upholstered chairs and a sofa form a sitting area.

Smith called the bedroom the Obamas' "sanctuary."

It's "private, elegant and calm," he said. "You really want to make sure that the president of the United States gets a good night's sleep," he told the magazine.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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