With less than a week before Barack Obama is sworn into office, Michelle Obama has chosen American designer Michael Smith to handle the traditional task of redecorating the White House.

“Laura Bush has been a wonderful steward of The White House and created a beautiful residence for her family. I look forward to adding our own touch to the East Wing and creating a living space where our family feels comfortable, happy and settled. Michael shares my vision for creating a family friendly feel to our new home and incorporating some new perspectives from some of America’s greatest artists and designers,” Michelle said in a statement.

Smith, a native of California, whose design style is described as “a delicate blend of European tradition and American modernism” has racked up numerous awards and is behind a bevy of exclusive interior furnishings including Jasper, a high end line of furniture and fabric. His clients include Stephen Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman, Brian Grazer, and Rupert Murdoch.

Some of the answers Smith gives to Domino magazine’s editor-in-chief Deborah Needleman hints at his down-to-earth sensibility and a little bit of design humor:

Needleman: Does every grand room need something humble?

Smith: Yes, and something brown.

Needleman: Yay or nay on fake flowers?

Smith: I love them, but they must be good ones and placed in areas where your perception is softened–not unlike on a movie set.

Needleman: How do you feel about the decorator-karate-chopped pillow?

Smith: That move should be punishable with a jail sentence.

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Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha ended Hawaiian vacation on Thursday and flew back to their home state of Chicago.

After a 12-day vacation that included golfing, working out at the local Marine Corps Base, paying respects to his late grandmother, visiting the zoo with Malia and Sasha, and strolling shirtless on the beach, Obama and his future first family are heading to Washington D.C. after making a pit stop in Chicago.

This weekend the Obamas will take up temporary residence at the historic Hay-Adams hotel in D.C. for two weeks before moving into the Blair House, the official government guest residence, on January 15 and finally settling into the White House after the inauguration on January 20.

The family’s stay at the swank Hay-Adams hotel which runs upwards of $700 for a regular room to $6,000 for a Presidential Suite is being funded by private transition funds.

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