Although they’re allotted $100,000 to redecorate, Barack and Michelle Obama will spend their own money updating the White House. The first family has turned to Michael S. Smith for the task. The designer has worked for Steven Spielberg, Rupert Murdoch and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, whose decorating habits have come to epitomize corporate greed.
But does this mean they’re going to spend more than $100,000 or less? Though Michelle Obama has talked up Pottery Barn, Smith’s client list includes cost-is-no-object types like Rupert Murdoch, Steven Spielberg, and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain—for whom he procured that $87,783 rug. “There’s no question that he’ll get it done in the way that it’s supposed to be done,” says Smith client and Democratic donor Katherine Chez. “But how, I don’t know.” The White House declined to disclose the budget, saying that all expenses would remain private as a result of the Obamas’ decision to absorb the cost.