I am instinctively drawn to most rooms by designer Michael S. Smith. And, apparently plumbing fixtures as well. I chose a Kallista showering system without realizing Michael S. Smith was behind it. It wasn’t a surprise though as Smith is the Gil Shafer of the design world for me. I am bound to pick the room by Smith or the renovation by Shafer 9 out of 10 times.
Back to trim kits. . .
This is Smith’s Inigo line for Kallista in polished nickel.
And, one of the walls in our shower featuring the Inigo in a chrome finish.
The installation has been an adventure. You may notice the handles don’t quite line up vertically when in the off position. Kallista sent out a plumber recently to resolve this issue. It is nearly there. In the interim, I can almost discuss K joints and torque and sound credible. Almost.
Now onto Michael S. Smith. He is a native Californian defined by his curatorial knowledge and discerning eye – as written in his firm’s bio. He mixes European traditionalism with American modernism with high impact, and is a self-defined Anglophile. Like Shafer, Smith has perfected the art of country chic.
Michael S. Smith is also widely known for being President Obama’s pick as the White House’s interior designer. Since that announcement in 2009, Smith has worked on the Obama’s private quarters and more recently the Oval Office. His subtle redo of the Oval Office left most underwhelmed. A shame as Smith’s work is anything but underwhelming. I have to agree with the masses though.
This is the Oval Office while George W. Bush was head of state, well the last hours as this was the transition day. The rug was designed by his wife, Laura who described the pattern as a radiating sun that symbolized optimism. It has been rumored the Bushes were eager for Obama to replace it so they could have their beloved rug back.
Here is an aerial view of the stunning rug. The Oval Office under the Bushes featured creamy ivory walls and soft damask sofas. The rug is truly the star as the paint and fabric choices serve to complement, not compete with the rug. My favorite part about the rug is how well it shows off the stunning floors.
The chairs could use a refreshing as could the coffee table but the room looks current and beautiful this many years later.
In 2009, it was announced that the Obamas had hired a designer and at first it was very hush hush who received the esteemed position. Eventually it came out that it was Michael S. Smith. The press has never leaked photos of the private quarters which is all well and good, but the Oval Office is a public space and well-photographed. Design and news junkies waited for the grand reveal . . .and a collective groan followed. The press dubbed it the boring beige makeover. Smith is criticized for playing it too safe, and worse, the room has been slammed for being unpatriotic. I am not sure I agree with the latter as Bush’s Oval Office was no more ‘patriotic’, that is, if patriotic is defined by eagle paraphenalia and red, white and blue color schemes. Do we really want a return to the Clinton Oval Office?
Let’s dissect how the rooms compare. The portraits over and flanking the fireplace remain the same. I do not know what is on the mantle. Is that fake ivy? And why so much? It is strange choice. Smith typically knocks the mantle styling out of the park. The walls went from a painted ivory to a wallpapered stripe. The chairs were reupholstered and the couches replaced. The new couches are very elegant. The end tables were reused and the coffee table replaced. The rug, of course, is new and far less of a statement piece though on the outside ring are quotes from some of our historic leaders:
- “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 photos of the Oval Office often read gold but the above shows the room as possibly a warmer brown which I like better. You can see the curtains from George W. Bush remain, and it looks like they may have been the jumping off point for the room. Another strange choice.
This is clearly not Michael S. Smith’s best work. I love the lamps and the coffee table is a huge improvement over the Bush’s but the Bush Oval Office wins hands-down for its elegance and interest. At least for me.
Still, Michael S. Smith cannot do much wrong by me design-wise, so stay tuned for Part II when I show you why he is one of Architectural Digest’s Top 100 designers and has risen to fame since starting his firm back in 1990.