At last—moving day has arrived! Vice President Kamala Harris finally resides in her official residence on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory.
Why the long wait, given she was sworn in three months ago? It’s because her six-bedroom, 9,000-square-foot home at 1 Observatory Circle was undergoing some extensive renovations both inside and outside that took all this time to complete.
In the meantime, Harris and her husband, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, were temporarily housed at Blair House, the president’s guest quarters that are within walking distance of the White House. It’s a gorgeous place and the commute to work is certainly convenient, but it must be nice to finally unpack your bags in your actual new home—for the next four years, at least.
Harris will be the ninth vice president to live here, following a series of seconds-in-command that began with Walter Mondale in the late ’70s.
Of course, a refresh is completely normal after years of wear and tear from previous vice presidents, their families, guests, and even pets. According to a loose tradition, each resident gets to oversee the home’s improvements and make suggestions for the 128-year-old, Queen Anne–style mansion.
Here’s a rundown of the most recent upgrades:
New HVAC system, chimney liners, and flooring
It’s not sexy work to be sure, but since parts of Washington, DC, were basically built atop a swamp, you can’t live comfortably in this city without solid air conditioning. To that end, according to a report in the New York Times, a new HVAC system was installed for Harris and Emhoff, along with updated chimney liners and newly refinished flooring.
A new color palette and art
New rugs and drapes are likely standard changes, and personal paint preferences are often taken into account. (The Bidens chose a blue hue from their Delaware home for the dining room walls.) And, just as in the Oval Office, artwork to adorn the rooms can be borrowed from the National Gallery of Art.
How past vice presidents have made their mark
Many vice presidents have put their personal stamp on the residence.
Among the special touches that have been added to make folks feel more at home are a $130,000 pool, gym, and putting green (thanks to Dan Quayle), and a pretty garden out back with a fountain and engraved stones commemorating past residents and pets (courtesy of the Bidens).
Bees and hoops are included
The Pence family wanted a nearby exercise facility, so the Indiana natives installed a basketball court plastered with the Hoosiers team logo. But they also put in what might be the strangest addition to an official Washington residence: a beehive. (Harris has reportedly said the bees are “absolutely” staying on.) Joking aside, Karen Pence wanted to raise awareness of the sad plight of these pollinators.
Kamala Harris will add Cali vibes
News reports have indicated that Harris is keen to incorporate some personal touches, including elements that echo her California roots as well as her cultural heritage as the first Black and South Asian woman to reside here.
Some vice presidents have used big-name designers to help spruce up the interior’s 33 rooms (the New York decorator Victoria Hagan was tapped by the Bidens), but as yet no names have emerged for this job. We can’t wait to see how this mansion shapes up in the coming years!