Lighting Design at the White House

We frequently blog about home lighting tips, but rarely do we share photos of homes with professionally designed lighting. It’s fun to see the style in a celebrity’s kitchen or to read about the projects an architect might take on in his own home, but the best homes to peek into are the ones that showcase room after room of professional lighting. What better place to see that than in the home and office of our nation’s president?

Although 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has housed every U.S. president except George Washington, there have been a few decorative changes over the years. Congress allocates money every four years for maintenance and redecoration of the 132 rooms. The Committee for the Preservation of the White House must approve changes to historic rooms and public spaces, but the living quarters on the upper floors may be updated without consultation.

George W. and Laura Bush added CFL light bulbs during their time in the White House (along with low-flow faucets and solar heating). It’s impossible to catalog each lighting change the building has seen, but photos speak to how beautifully each room is lit.

The ceiling of the Oval Office is lined with cove lighting, accenting the unique shape of the room and creating pleasant ambient lighting for the entire space.

Photo © Joe Sohm/Visions of America

The Blue Room typically serves as the room for presidents to formally greet guests. This room features a sparkling chandelier with coordinating wall sconces.  The chandelier and sconces have been constant presences, but their designs have changed over time.

Photo via Ejconkey

The exterior of the White House looks magnificent at night with outdoor uplights setting off the contours of the grandiose building.

Photo © Erik Kvalsvik, White House Historical Association

An English cut-glass chandelier from the early 1800s lights the Grand Staircase at its first landing. Used on ceremonial occasions, the Grand Staircase opens into the Entrance Hall, which has a rich history.

Photo © White House Historical Association

For more photos and details, check out the White House Museum site, which includes an online tour of the residence. What do you think? Wouldn’t it be an incredible place to devise a lighting plan?

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.

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