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Gathering around the coffee table

By Staff | Sep 10, 2010

Big events in my life include: college and photography school graduations, 1988-getting married and also purchasing Strand Studio, the birth of our daughter Lydia in 2005, and the selection of coffee tables for our home and business!

While President Obama and his family were on vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, the Oval Office in the West Wing of the White House received a facelift. We, the public, had the chance to view the redecorated office last Tuesday evening as President Obama addressed the nation on the end of combat operations in Iraq. Even though the network television camera must adhere to traditional White House protocol of focusing on the President, many elements of the room are not shown. Thanks to press releases and the Internet, full views of the newly-redecorated Oval Office are easily available.

The Oval Office was created in 1909 as part of an overall expansion to the West Wing of the White House during the administration of William Taft. The room is oval in design and has 3 large south-facing windows behind the President’s desk. Several presidents have been photographed by these windows-often in moments of reflection. Many of us can recall when either dreary or golden news was shared from this position by our leader. When the President gives a public address from here, we have full view of the beautiful custom draperies. This once again verifies that the stitches of a fine seamstress do not go unnoticed. It also makes one aware that excelling at your 4-H sewing project could get you to the White House! Often a quick camera pan will pick up just a few glimpses of personal photographs nearby or on his desk. President Obama’s desk is The Resolute Desk, built from the timbers of a British warship. It was a gift to President Rutherford B. Hayes and was installed in the Oval Office by John F. Kennedy with some firm nudging from First Lady Jackie. It had been used by presidents Carter, Clinton, Reagan, and George W. Bush, as well. It is in our nature to have wonderment about the oval office . After all, it is the home of our Commander in Chief.

Usually each President will have a rug designed reflecting his interests. Often this rug is the center of attention in the office. When George W. Bush was in office, his rug was designed by First Lady Laura. It became known as the sunbeam rug-ivory in tone, ringed in sage and melon. President Obama’s rug features (along with the presidential seal) colors of wheat, cream, and blue. These tones fit well with the room’s taupe color which has replaced the more yellowish tones that were present during the Bush Administration. It is ringed with the five following historical quotes: “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt; “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice” – Martin Luther King, Jr.; “Government of the People, By the People, For the People” – President Abraham Lincoln; “No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings” – President John F. Kennedy; “The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us” – President Theodore Roosevelt. The rugs of former presidents are often displayed in their presidential libraries.

With all of the interest in the oval office rug, you would have thought this would have been the center of today’s attention. No-not so. Many more comments were received on the new coffee table! The table of much discussion is rectangular, modern and covered with marble-looking tiles made of walnut and mica. Its sides go completely to the floor. If you were to turn the letter u upside down and flatten its top and extend it out, you would have the current Oval Office coffee table.

Coffee tables have always been close associates of mine. At home in Underwood, we had two coffee tables-the first being modern Danish-sleek in design which my mother purchased with green stamps. As the years moved on, we made acquaintance with the fine quality of Tell City furniture and our coffee table was solid maple in the colonial design. The joys of coffee tables are many, and it delights my heart to think that Americans are actually paying attention to them.

Traditional furniture styles have always been my favorite. It is for this very reason we have a Queen Anne coffee table in our living room and at the studio we have an oval walnut table that favors the Sheraton period. A coffee table reflects one’s personality and President Obama has made his choice. Americans should be glad to know that the arm chairs, desk chair, couches, lamps that are part of the redecorating were all American made. Many items were also recycled from previous administrations. (From what I can figure out, the draperies were not replaced-oh, darn! I could have had a use for them.)

This surge of interest in the oval coffee table gives me hope for America. Who knows-maybe Americans will place on their coffee table of choice, inspiring books to read, games to play and the ultimate-serving coffee and having entertaining conversations with neighbors and friends.

I share with you a recipe from former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt which is featured in “The Presidents’ Own White House Cookbook.” It is interesting to note that this pecan pie is delicious, but not as rich as the usual pecan pie recipes. It contains less butter and also uses light corn syrup along with brown sugar. I do prefer to make my pecan pie with light corn syrup as the flavor is more melodious. This would be perfect served on any coffee table.

Repnow is a Rugby resident

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