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The president's new digs

Joe Biden does some Oval Office redecoration

New US leader changes rug and drapes, hangs new photos — and removes red button Trump used to have butler bring him a Diet Coke

The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden's administration, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden's administration, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden has given the Oval Office a slight makeover.

Biden revealed the new decor Wednesday as he invited reporters into his new office to watch him sign a series of executive orders hours after he took office.

A bust of Cesar Chavez, the labor leader and civil rights activist, is nestled among an array of framed family photos displayed on a desk behind the new president.

Chavez’s son Paul said he had agreed to lend the bronze bust to Biden but was utterly surprised to see it displayed so prominently.

“We’re still smiling cheek to cheek,” Paul Chavez said.

The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden’s administration, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, including a table with family photos and a bust of Cesar Chavez. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The most visually striking change is Biden’s choice of a deep blue rug, with the presidential seal in the middle, that was last used by President Bill Clinton, to replace a light-colored rug laid down by Trump. Biden is also using Clinton’s deep gold draperies.

Busts of civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks are also on display, along with a sculpture of President Harry Truman. Biden removed a bust of Winston Churchill, the former British prime minister.

US President Joe Biden prepares to sign a series of orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, after being sworn in at the US Capitol on January 20, 2021. (Jim WATSON / AFP)

On the wall across from Biden’s desk is a portrait collage of predecessors George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, along with Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father and former treasury secretary.

No longer on display is a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, a Trump favorite who signed the Indian Removal Act that forced tens of thousands of Native Americans out of their homeland.

Biden is keeping the Resolute desk, so named because it was built using oak from the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute. But he got rid of the red button that Trump had on the desk and would push to have a butler bring him a Diet Coke, his beverage of choice.

All presidents tweak the Oval Office decor at the start of their terms to reflect their personal tastes or to telegraph broader messages to the public.

The White House maintains a vast collection of furniture, paintings and other artifacts that they can choose from. Presidents are also allowed to borrow items from the Smithsonian and other museums. The White House curator oversees everything, and the makeover is carried out in the hours after the outgoing president leaves the mansion and before the new president arrives.

Biden also replaced a row of military service flags Trump used to decorate the office with a single American flag and a flag with the presidential seal, both positioned behind his desk.

He also chose a tufted, dark brown leather chair instead of keeping the reddish brown desk chair Trump used.

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