The White House Bedroom Through the Years

The White House Bedroom Through the Years

Nancy Mitchell
May 11, 2016
The master bedroom during the Taft administration, circa 1911.
(Image credit: Library of Congress)

Talk about the decor of the White House tends to focus on its more public areas, those open to visitors, but throughout the years the private spaces in America's preeminent mansion have undergone just as many changes, and perhaps more dramatic ones. Every first family has had the opportunity to leave its particular mark on the White House's master bedroom, and their decor choices, through the years, while reflective of the choices of different families, have also created a story about the evolution of American tastes. Join us, if you will, for a little more than 100 years of first bedroom history.

The White House bedroom in 1958, decorated in Mamie Eisenhower's signature pink and green.
(Image credit: White House Museum)

All these photos come to us through The White House Museum, a fascinating website that provides a virtual tour of the White House. You can view floor plans and then click on individual rooms to see their evolution over the years. (Warning: Maybe don't start the tour unless you have quite a bit of time, because it is dangerously addictive.)

The room in 1962, when it served as Jackie Kennedy's bedroom.
(Image credit: The Kennedy Library via The White House Museum)

The room we're looking at, the master bedroom, has traditionally served as the president's bedroom. (It has occasionally been used as a living room, and for presidential couples, like John and Jackie, that preferred to have separate bedrooms, the master bedroom has served as one half of a suite together with the living room next door.) Abraham Lincoln slept here, and not in the state bedroom that famously bears his name — that room was once his office, and is so named because of alleged ghost sightings.

Betty Ford in the White House bedroom in 1977, just before her departure. She restored the padded headboard from Mamie Eisenhower's time.
(Image credit: The White House Museum)

The last two administrations, as far as I know, have not released any photos of the private rooms of the White House, so the most up-to-date image we have is a grainy photo from 1998, of the bedroom as it was under Bill Clinton's presidency. President and Mrs. Obama, if you're reading this — we'd be more than happy to do a tour.

The Reagan bedroom in 1981, featuring a Chinese wallpaper with birds and flowers.
(Image credit: Architectural Digest via The White House Museum)

You can see more images of the White House master bedroom over the years — and while you're at it, take a little tour around the whole house — at The White House Museum.

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