Nancy Reagan has decided she will not accept the $50,000 traditionally given by Congress to each administration to redecorate the family quarters of the White House. Instead, she has asked the White House Historical Association to raise $200,000 to "restore, repair and refurbish" the rooms on the top two floors of the president's house, according to an announcement last night by Peter McCoy, her chief of staff.
McCoy said there was no timetable for the project because of the "careful and methodical nature of the work." He added that Mrs. Reagan had talked her plan over with the White House Historical Association and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House.
The announcement noted that the last major "refurbishment" of the family quarters took place during the Kennedy administration "almost 20 years ago." Actually, Rosalynn Carter did have the solarium and a guest bedroom or so redecorated during her term. Sheila Patton, Nancy Reagan's press secretary, said the project will "restore, refinish and reupholster many historic furnishings from past administrations, currently stored under conditions not conducive to their long-term preservation, and display and use them throughout the White House."
By law, all White House-owned furnishings not in use can only be stored, or lent to the Smithsonian. Clement Conger, curator of the White House, has said in the past that he has tried to collect furnishings that can be used to replace pieces in current use so they can be reupholstered.
Mrs. Reagan also intends to repaint, and repair or replace carpeting, curtains and draperies. Patton pointed out that the second floor also has ceremonial rooms, in addition to the family quarters. The president and first lady officially receive visiting heads of state and governments in the Yellow Oval Room on this upper floor. This room was redecorated at the end of the Richard Nixon administration.
The announcement specifically said, "There are no plans to alter the most historic rooms on these floors, such as the Treaty Room and the Lincoln and Queen's Bedrooms." These bedrooms are traditionally used by visiting heads of state.
Mrs. Reagan is considering redecorating the Yellow Oval Room and the solarium as well as the east and west sitting halls and the family bedrooms, Patten said. Painting has begun on the Reagan's bedroom and the sitting hall.
The $200,000 fund to redecorate the top floors will be kept separate from two other funds for the White House currently earmarked for the ground and state floors, though the money will be accepted by the White House Historical Association, which already sells guide books and accepts other contributions for current state room needs. The White House Preservation Fund is a trust to provide an annual income to buy period furnishings and art objects for the White House Collection.