WASHINGTON -- Congressional opponents, stubborn diplomats or wary heads of state, beware: The new Oval Office sofas look so comfy, you just might be lulled into a few reckless compromises.
Every president eventually puts his own mark on the Oval Office, decoratively speaking, and the White House unveiled the Obama makeover Tuesday, just hours before a major presidential speech on Iraq from his famous Resolute Desk (still there.)
Design experts were weighing in immediately, of course, on the calming melange of browns and tans, with a generous helping of leather and an assortment of stripes: Was it all a little too No-Drama Obama? Or was it livelier, cooler, more chic and elegant than before?
First, the changes: While the president and his family were away on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, workers installed new striped wallpaper, new sofas, reupholstered chairs, new lamps and a coffee table -- and a new rug bearing quotes around its borders from famous Americans.
The updates have a more modern, easy-to-live-in look -- for example, the new brown leather desk chair, or the mahogany armchairs by the fireplace, now reupholstered in caramel-colored leather.
Or the plush sofas, custom-made in New York and covered with a very soft-looking light brown cotton with red, white and blue threads running through it.
"These sofas look like you could have a lot of long talks," said Michael Boodro, editor in chief of Elle Decor magazine. "They're good for diplomacy. And that coffee table -- it looks sturdier. You could put your feet up. I mean, I'm not sure anyone ever gets too comfortable in the Oval Office, other than the president, but this looks like an effort to put people at ease."
The relaxed color scheme -- tan, camel and brown, as opposed to more goldish hues in the Bush era -- might be another way to calm folks down. On the other hand, some may see the scheme as boring, reflective of the No-Drama Obama moniker.
They should know that in fashion, camel is THE hot new color of the fall. And home decor often follows trends in fashion.
"So you could say he's not ahead of the curve, but definitely on it," quipped Boodro, who found the tones subdued but warm.
Obama had long been making small changes in the Oval Office, aided by California designer Michael Smith, but held off on a broader redesign until now, mindful of the nation's economic distress.
The White House wouldn't reveal the overall cost of the new look, but said in a statement that it was "in line with the amount spent by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush on the redesigns of their Oval Office." It added that the funds came from the nonprofit White House Historical Association, through a contribution from the presidential inaugural committee.