I have always considered The White House, “The People’s House,” the ultimate symbol of our great nation. No matter what administration is in residence, it remains a beacon of all we stand for as the United States of America.
I remember during the Carter years, my Godfather and flower mentor: R. Reed Tate, from my hometown in Virginia, had been invited to help with the décor of The People’s House. Our town was so proud of him; it made an indelible impression on me as a young American.
During the Clinton administration, I had the pleasure to help with the White House holiday decorations under the direction of Robert Isabell. It was the early 90’s and the décor was over the top and simply beautiful. I remember the moment I stepped into the Great Hall and the overwhelming energy that washed over me – I felt the magic of America’s home. This year, my good friend Holly Chapple, introduced me to Laura Dowling, the Head Florist for the White House. I had the opportunity to work with their wonderful team on the President’s Salute to the Troops on the Forth of July. Later, I was asked to help design and consult on this year’s holiday décor, which seemed to bring my life full circle – my mentor, Reed Tate, and I sharing the same honor. It was a pinnacle in my career.
I had the opportunity to explore the official warehouse where all the decorations from holidays past are stored. Because of the economy, it made perfect sense that our charge was a majority of the décor be derived from existing stock.
I was asked to oversee the Red Room (which is among my most favorite rooms in classic interior design), the Green Room, the Lower Cross Hallway, The Diplomatic Receiving Room, and the Palm Room, as well as a few other spots including the guest entrance – all under the the logistical magic of Gabrielle Martinez and her wonderful team at Agency EA. With a team of 80+ volunteers, the entire house was decorated in just three days (with months of pre-planning up front!). It was the ultimate decorating project.
So, on this inaugural day, I am proud to have been a part of a place that centers us as a nation.