One Famous Window Honors Our First Ladies

Happy President's Day!  We are honoring this day with the infamous White House West Hall Sitting Room's window and its transformation through the years as seen through the eyes of the First Lady - make that Ladies, dating back to 1888.  

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Frances Cleveland

This relaxed, garden atmosphere may give us a glimpse into First Lady Cleveland's personality.  The dramatic sheers showcase the beauty of the Tiffany window in or about 1888.

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Edith Roosevelt

Through the sheers and the year is 1904.  The scallops of the Tiffany window are barely visible as the window appears to have been changed during the Roosevelt Renovation.  The treatment itself is highly dramatic for the period with sheer sunburst arches and cascading swags. 

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Bridesmaids to Jessie Wilson in all their finery before our now renovated window.  The sunburst sheers still adorn the second arch and draperies are inset at the lower portion.  The year is 1913 and our First Lady at the time of the photo was Ellen Wilson.  

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Eleanor Roosevelt

Undoubtedly, the longest residency of the White House, Eleanor was a diplomat, an american politician and an activist.  Her straight-forward nature is visible at the window without any treatments, pomp or circumstance.  Photograph 1937.

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The Truman Reconstruction years 1949 - 1952

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Bess Truman

After the reconstruction, First Lady Bess' design is also simple in the treatment of the window with only a sunburst sheer inset in the lower arch.

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Mamie Eisenhower

The year is 1957 and we have an actual color photograph!  Fully draped with cornice box our window is dressed and the two chairs are covered in the same fabric.  Classic '50s style.

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A grand welcoming into a new era are the impeccable stylings of Jacqueline Kennedy.  Working closely with historians and curators Jackie's attention to detail and vision is realized to this day and set a new precedent for future First Ladies.

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Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson

1966. The fabrics have changed, but Jackie's design remains and it is absolutely stunning.  

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Pat Nixon

1969. Elaborate in yellow/gold one has to wonder if this was her color preference - so striking in comparison!

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Betty Ford

1974.  12 years, and three Presidential terms later, we have to consider is this the best window treatment for our window?  As Jackie's design was so publicized, and so loved, I would love to be the fly on the wall listening in on the conversations between the designers and the First Ladies.  

 *Aside, the transformation may have been made by Betty Ford as I later discovered photos of the Fords flanked in the flowery design.

*Aside, the transformation may have been made by Betty Ford as I later discovered photos of the Fords flanked in the flowery design.

1978 - Rosalyn Carter.  One word comes to mind: Homespun.  Depicting the design of the times where florals ruled and you could even have fabrics matchy-matched to wallpaper.  

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Nancy Reagan

1981, was the year that Nancy Reagan took on the task of redecorating the White House in her own style.  There were many criticisms on the costs of her endeavors.  She wanted to bring their California lifestyle to their private residence in the White House, complete with her signature color Scarlet Red.  

"This house belongs to all Americans, and I want it to be something of which they can be proud."

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Barbara Bush

 On or about 1990, the furnishings changed, but our window treatments appear to be Nancy's.  The photo scene has been captured many times of the former First Lady's meeting with the incoming First Lady, and I don't think they were talking of decor.

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Hillary Clinton

1995.  Traditional elegance.  

Just like our own clients taking on a new residence, I love when they elect to keep the window treatments and work the decor around them.  Just my opinion, thoughts?

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Laura Bush

Photograph 2001.  Simple definition.  

This has to be one of the more popular ways to treat a large arch window today, exposing the architectural elements and preserving the beauty of our window.  Of course, today we would extend the drapery to the ceiling.  

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2009, or thereabout, Michelle Obama interprets the space into a well-appointed, yet casual family sitting room, and our window receives another makeover.  Ceiling mounted and wall-to-wall draperies with sheers - Yes! This is the treatment I was waiting for and suspect it is also the design that many households are still recreating.

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Melania Trump

Photographed in front of our window, but no treatments shown.  I guess we'll have to wait and hope that we will be privy to her design conquests.  Update to follow!

A few of our former First Ladies set the world on trend with their fashion and, notably, their decor choices.  "Our Window" as we lovingly called it throughout this BLOG,  is located in the second floor private residence of the White House.  Why did we choose this particular window above all others?  It gives us a glimpse into the many diverse personalities of our former First Ladies in their living space.  

I take great pleasure in the history of window treatments and how they evolve through individual tastes.  If you love the decorating history of the White House, we found a great source through whitehouse museum.org and give them photo credit along with Architectural Digest for the images we've used.

We leave you with this quote from President John Adams:

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President Adams and wife, Abigail, moved into the White House in March of 1797.  FDR had this John Adams quote carved on the fireplace of the White House State Dining Room.

Thank you for joining us!