First Lady Melania Trump might still be spending her weekdays in New York but she is getting the Trump White House in ship-shape with the help of interior designer Tham Kannalikham.
“Mrs. Trump has a deep appreciation for the historical aspects of the White House and with Tham’s traditional design and expertise, they are focusing on a seamless integration of elegance and comfort into where the President, the First Lady, and [their son] Barron will be spending their family time and calling their home,” said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, senior adviser to the First Lady.
The Laotian-American designer got her start at Ralph Lauren Home in New York and now heads up her own firm as principal of Kannalikham Designs. While pundits and comedians have mused about the likelihood of an Oval Office adorned with gold and marble accents along the lines of the Louis XIV-inspired style that Angelo Donghia created for the President’s penthouse in Trump Tower, their White House is likely to be more toned down given Kannalikham’s ethos.
With what was described as extensive experience working with private clients from around the world, her interest in traditional design, coupled with her past work, has led to a decade of extensive study in the fields of early American architecture and decorative arts. “I am honored by the opportunity to be working with the First Lady to make the White House feel like home,” Kannalikham said in a statement released Thursday.
While it was not immediately known how she and the First Lady met, the fact that Kannalikham keeps a relatively low profile may have been a selling point with FLOTUS. The designer’s web site has a private login for clients, and it does not feature any photographs or information beyond an e-mail contact. Her Instagram account is private. Her Ralph Lauren tie may have been another upside with the First Lady, who millions of inauguration watchers know wore a powder blue ensemble by Lauren for her husband’s swearing-in ceremony last month. With the exception of Lauren, Trump gravitated toward lesser-known — and lowkey – designers for her inaugural weekend wardrobe.
The President wasted no time in hanging a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office and the First Lady may also keep a fast pace with her White House redecorating. The Lincoln Bedroom, the President’s Dining Room, the Truman Balcony, the Yellow Oval Room and the Treaty Room are all housed on the White House’s second floor, and are among the spaces that First Families generally rework to their taste.
During the Obama years, it was the Los Angeles-based designer Michael Smith who reimagined the private quarters at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with an array of 20th and 21st century art. The turnaround time was a mere two months, according to an Architectural Digest article. Smith’s first priority was reportedly squaring away the bedrooms for Malia and Sasha. In terms of First Family decorating, that M.O. may remain intact given First Lady Melania Trump’s devotion to her 10-year-old son.