Melania Trump hires designer for White House residence

Melania Trump's quiet start as first lady
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Story highlights

  • Melania Trump hired Tham Kannalikham to decorate the White House private living quarters
  • She will move in at the end of the school year

(CNN)Melania Trump is taking steps to make the White House a home, hiring Laotian-American interior designer Tham Kannalikham to decorate the Trump's private living quarters, a spokeswoman for the first lady confirmed Friday.

Kannalikham is the first lady's second official hire. She announced Lindsay Reynolds as her East Wing chief of staff on Wednesday.
News of Kannalikham's hire was first reported by WWD.
"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," Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, acting senior adviser to the First Lady, told WWD.
The New York-based Kannalikham began her career at Ralph Lauren Home and now runs her own firm. The Tham Kannalikham website is only accessible to clients through a private login.
Trump, who has not been to Washington since her husband was sworn in two weeks ago, is making the move to the White House with son Barron, 10, at the end of the school year, Winston Wolkoff told CNN, splitting her time between DC and New York in the coming months.
"Mrs. Trump is honored to serve this country and is taking the role and responsibilities of first lady very seriously. It has only been a short time since the inauguration and the first lady is going to go about her role in a pragmatic and thoughtful way that is unique and authentic to her," Winston Wolkoff said in a statement.
She will join her husband at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, a White House source confirmed.
New presidents are traditionally alotted $100,000 in federal funds to redecorate the residence and Oval Office, but the Obamas used their own money to decorate their living quarters, his administration confirmed in 2009.
Michelle Obama tapped Los Angeles-based Michael S. Smith to decorate for her family. Smith worked with Mrs. Obama and the White House curator to choose art and accessories for the private quarters, including the master bedroom.
"This is their sanctuary — private, elegant, and calm. You really want to make sure that the President of the United States gets a good night's sleep," he told Architectural Digest last year.