In 1961, the Kennedys converted the room formerly known as “Lincoln’s Bedroom,” located on the second floor in the west wing of the White House, into a family dining space that’s now known as “The President’s Dining Room.” They painted the walls and brought in their own Louis XVI furniture.
However, even White House dining room sets are not above critique. Following the recommendation of Henry Du Pont and Sister Parish, this room was furnished with antiques in the American Federal style. An early 1800’s wooden pedestal table made in Massachusetts became the centerpiece, surrounded by eight shield back side chairs with tooled white leather cushions set over a contemporary stitch-pattern carpet. Two shaded blue silk curtains, designed by Stephane Boudin, draped the windows, and wood block printed paper from 1853, featuring images of the American Revolution, covered the walls. Three silver service pieces that belonged to Andrew Jackson sat on the sideboard, because Benjamin Harrison’s fine china was often used as the place settings.
The Johnson administration made no changes to this décor. Even Nixon limited his changes to the carpet, which was swapped out for one of a historical design. The Fords replaced that with an oriental rug, reupholstered the chairs, and had the walls painted yellow. After that, the Carter’s brought back the scenic wood-block paper. The Presidential Dining Room wouldn’t see any more major revisions until the Clinton Administration. Arkansas native Kaki Hockersmith redesigned the entire room and furnishings, as well as other areas of the White House, with bright colors in the style of “Gone With The Wind” before she was gone with a $400,000 paycheck.
Just as presidents need to eat, so do kings. One such “king” resided in the second most visited private home in the U.S. Elvis Presley purchased the Memphis mansion dubbed “Graceland” in 1957. As dining room sets go, Graceland’s was rather formal. A wooden table with a smoked-glass top sits 12 in gold-accented chairs beneath an Italian chandelier. The floor is black marble with a white-carpet perimeter, and curio cabinets sit in both corners. Underneath the head of the table is a call button to alert the maid in case there aren’t enough bananas on your fried peanut butter sandwich.
Interested in being the king of your family dinners? The furnishings of Elvis’ Beverly Hills home, which he bought in 1967 after his marriage to Priscilla, were up for auction a few years back. Nine cane back armchairs with plush suede cushions fitted around an 84″ tabletop with a three-tier wooden base lay atop a matching crème colored rug along with a 94″ credenza. This particular round table housed two call buttons, the second likely being for the First Lady of Rock and Roll.