President Donald Trump’s administration has spent $1.75 million decorating the White House and associated offices, NBC reports.
The sum, which is slightly more than the roughly $1.5 million spent by Barack Obama to redecorate after a similar period, “includes $17,000 for custom-made rugs, $7,000 for ‘furniture plinths,’ and $5,000 dollars for wallpaper,” according to the network.
Government documents cited by NBC also include the $12,800 purchase of a custom conference table made by a company that produced one for Richard Nixon in 1969; “President Nixon paid for the table himself,” the company’s website says. Indeed, Obama also personally paid for some of the renovations during his tenure.
Trump, meanwhile, said Time that he paid for a crystal chandelier in the dining room out of his own pocket. A White House spokesperson told NBC they are investigating whether he paid for other parts of the renovation.
Not all of the $1.75 million was spent on work at the White House. The sum is the total amount spent since Trump’s inauguration by the President’s Executive Office (EOP), which “includes thousands of employees who work in buildings adjacent to the White House at organizations like the National Security Council. and the Office of Management and Budget.” A figure of $291,000 paid to a salesman for office walls is the largest expense, apparently for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The extensive White House renovation came as Trump spent 17 days at his Bedminster golf club in August and was carried out by a team of more than 200 workers. Updates included replacing the 27-year-old heating and cooling system, refreshing paint and carpets in offices and meeting rooms and installing Trump-approved wallpaper in the Oval Office .
The president was particularly satisfied with the work in the dining room. “We struck gold behind the walls, which I always knew. The renovations are grand,” he said. Time, adding that the project was completed in two days. “Do you remember how hard they worked? They wanted to make me happy.”
The goal was to improve space for staff and the public, said John Botello, interior designer and preservation specialist for the president’s executive office. He said they wanted to keep “the American people and when they tour” in mind.
The entire renovation, which was carried out at the presidential mansion from Aug. 4-20, was “more out of necessity than cosmetic,” a White House spokesperson said. City & Country this month.
Here’s how the work went:
Within an hour of Trump leaving on August 4, the Oval Office was nearly empty, and the next day workers removed the Resolute desk. (The end result is shown above.)
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A week later, on August 11, the walls of the Oval Office had been covered with plastic sheeting.
The work, which was carried out by the Administration of general services, including:
- Renovation of the cracked stairs leading to the White House from the South Lawn, which have not been restored for 64 years
- Perform exterior electrical upgrades, power washing and exterior door resurfacing
- Upgrading the 27-year-old HVAC system, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That use effectively makes it 81 years old, the White House spokesman said.
- Repair leaks in the lower press area of the west wing
- Navy Mess Kitchen Renovation
- Paint and renovate to refresh colors and change curtains and carpets
- Removed temporary stairs near the press conference room
While renovations typically take place in August, when presidents traditionally take their vacations, this one was “certainly a much larger overhaul,” the White House spokesman said in early August. “Many existing systems are in dire need of repair and replacement, which is why this retrofit is so crucial. GSA teams will be working around the clock to complete these projects; they are preparing to have people here 24/7.”
Additionally, in a move not typical of regular annual renovations, West Wing staff members who are not traveling with the President during this time were moved to Eisenhower’s Executive Office building.
That work, the spokesperson said, was approved under the Obama administration. They are known as the “West Wing Phase Two Renovations” as they follow an initial renovation completed in 2012.
The west wing HVAC upgrade was awarded in 2014 for $1.965 million, a GSA spokesperson said. GTCadding, before the start of the project, that “the HVAC system is well past its life cycle and will fail in the near future without intervention”.
The complete carpet replacement in the west wing was estimated at $1.17 million with the paint refresh at $275,000, the GSA spokesperson said. The costs were “in line with or lower than what the last three previous administrations have spent”.
The spokesperson also said that “although carpeting and painting are usually completed close to Inauguration Day, the administration has elected to postpone until August recess.”
The GSA used two 8(a) businesses for the renovation, a designation that refers to “small, disadvantaged, minority-owned businesses”; the west wing HVAC contractor is Calvary Mechanical Co., Inc. and the carpeting contractor is Microbase Corporation. The painting contractor, Cypress Painting Systems, Inc., was an 8(a) company when the contract was written, but has since graduated from the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program.
The president spent the 17-day renovation of his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on his first extended vacation since taking office in January. Earlier in his term, he reportedly told members of his golf club that “the White House is a real dump,” which is why he spends so much time away from Washington. The president then denied making the claim in a tweet earlier this month.
When asked to comment on the President’s reported remarks, the White House spokesperson replied, “The President has spoken in the past about the honor and privilege of living and working here at the White House. . House and I refer you to those other comments.”
(For his part, golf journalist Alan Shipnuck said in a podcast posted on golf.com that he stood by his reporting: “The president said this in front of eight or nine members and staff of [Trump] Bedroom. It was his first visit to the club after residing at the White House. It was a moment of candor.”
With reporting from The Associated Press
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