Moving Day at the White House: "A Well Organized Ballet Choreography"

"The choreography is planned almost down to the minute," Walters said.

That planning includes a division of labor so precise that no job overlaps and no time is wasted. Staff is divided into who is carrying furniture in, who is carrying it out, who unpacks the boxes and puts things away, and who takes the empty ones out. Walters said there is even a staffer assigned to operate the elevator because otherwise things could get backed up.

The goal at the end?

"There are no empty or partially empty boxes in corners, everything is put away where it's supposed to be so they can be in their new home," Walters said.

Michelle Obama and her staff have been working with the White House Ushers Office to determine what needs to be unpacked immediately and where they would like things to go. The Obamas can choose to replace furniture that the Bushes had in the residence or supplement it with items from the White House collection. Walters said the Ushers Office will propose a floor plan to members of the new first family and ask if they want to keep things as they are or make changes. The Obamas work with the White House curator's office to select artwork that they would like to display.

Today's moving ordeal may not be so tricky, because the Bushes packed up early and shipped much of their belongings to Texas.

The only personal piece of furniture they will be taking with them is a chest of drawers that belonged to Bush's grandmother.

"Mrs. Bush did express that she knew when she moved here that she would have lovely historic pieces to choose from so she did not bring a lot of furniture," said Sally McDonough, communications director for the first lady.

Oval Office New Decor

Once he is sworn in as president, Obama has the freedom to redecorate the Oval Office as he likes. Walters said that could mean new artwork on the walls, different books he might want on the shelves or even new furniture, such as chairs and sofas.

When he moved into his new office in 2001, Bush brought with him several paintings of Texas that were borrowed from museums in his home state, including one of the Alamo by Julian Onderdonk and a landscape of Texas bluebonnets by Onderdonk. Bush also hung a painting of western horse riders called "A Charge to Keep" by W.H.D. Koerner because it reminded him of a book of the same title.

In one of his first decisions in office, Bush commissioned a new rug for the Oval Office, oval shaped with a sunburst design that he was quite fond of talking about with world leaders who visited. Laura Bush designed the rug, following instructions from her husband that he wanted something optimistic.

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said the president-elect "loves" the rug but said it was too early to think about redecorating the Oval Office.

There will be a not-so-secret surprise waiting for Obama when he sits down in the Oval Office for the first time as president. Tradition holds that the outgoing president leaves a note for the incoming president in the top drawer of the desk, the contents of which are never released publicly.

White House aides have been working with the archivist and other government officials to make sure that records are being kept and organized.

President's Photograph Gallery

There is a picture gallery on the wall outside the Cabinet Room that includes a rotating collection of photographs of the president.

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