First Lady's Personal Touches for the White House

    18 September, 2019

    Attendees of the White House's second state dinner of the Trump presidency on Friday will see some new personal touches from the first lady, Melania Trump.

    There are new wall coverings in the Red Room, new window treatments in the Green Room and restored furniture in the Blue Room. Those are just some of the home improvement projects the first lady has overseen to keep the public areas of the White House looking their best.

    Stewart McLaurin is president of the White House Historical Association. He said sunlight had left the wall in the Red Room "so faded it was almost pink."

    He added, "Those rooms should always look their very best and it was just very faded and really, really needed to be done."

    This Sept. 17, 2019, photo shows repurposed window treatments in the Green Room of the White House.
    This Sept. 17, 2019, photo shows repurposed window treatments in the Green Room of the White House.

    First Ladies meet often with experienced White House workers to decide what improvements should be at the top of the to-do list.

    As first lady, Melania Trump has centered on her interest in history as she oversees improvement projects. At a recent event, she said, "Our family is grateful to live in this true symbol of our nation's history, but we are even more honored to play a part in restoring and enhancing our country's sacred landmark."

    McLaurin said the first lady designed a new floor covering for the Diplomatic Reception Room. The new rug includes the state flowers of all 50 American states.

    Last year, the first lady returned an historic set of furniture known as the Bellangé suite to the Blue Room. President James Monroe brought it to the White House in 1817.

    But in 1860, nearly all of the pieces were sold. The White House has brought back 10 of the original pieces. The rest were "lost to history," McLaurin said.

    The White House serves several purposes. It is an office for the president and his staff, a home for his family and a museum for the public.

    About 500,000 people visit the White House every year. Heads of states and important people attend receptions and other events held there. This Friday, the Trumps will hold a state dinner for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife.

    "The White House does get a lot of wear and tear," McLaurin said. And making changes to the White House is more complex than doing so in other homes.

    Ideas for improvement projects need to be shared with the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. It provides advice on how to keep the public rooms of the White House in good condition. The committee then asks for money from the historical association. The association spends about $1 million to $1.5 million on such projects each year.

    I'm Ashley Thompson.

    Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Associated Press story. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    fade - v. to become less bright, to lose color

    grateful - adj. feeling or showing thanks

    symbol - n. an object that represents a particular idea

    enhance - v. to increase or improve

    sacred - adj. highly valued and important

    original - adj. happening first or at the beginning

    reception - n. a gathering to celebrate something or to welcome someone

    wear and tear - phrase. damage that happens as a result of normal use or aging