Obama Chic: Balancing the White House Checkbook

As newly inaugurated President Obama and his family celebrate his first day in office, the moving vans will be carrying the Obamas' belongings to their new home, but the decorating won't stop there.

The Obamas have chosen celebrity designer Michael Smith to transform the executive quarters to fit the Chicago family's style. But while the inauguration festivities reportedly costing close to $120 million, Smith's budget will be considerably less.  

The soon-to-be first family will need to redecorate under a strict budget of $100,000 allocated by Congress.

As stipulated in the Executive Residence Budget, Congress appropriates $1.6 million a year for the repair and restoration of the White House.

That amount, intended to ensure the building's preservation, includes $100,000 for every incoming president to refurbish the private quarters and the Oval Office, according to Sally McDonough, press secretary to first lady Laura Bush. The allocation was raised from $50,000 to $100,000 in 1999, during the Clinton administration.

The Obamas' chief concern will be ensuring that their daughters -- Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 -- feel content in their new home, transition aides say.

"Their primary focus is to make sure that the kids feel comfortable and settled," Michelle Obama's press secretary, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, told FOXNews.com.

And though few details have been released on Michelle Obama's precise style choices, the soon-to-be first lady has said she will incorporate "some new perspectives from some of America's greatest artists and designers."

"Laura Bush has been a wonderful steward of The White House and created a beautiful residence for her family," she said in a statement released last week by the transition team. "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."

She said Michael Smith -- a California-based interior designer to Hollywood stars like Steven Spielberg -- "shares my vision for creating a family friendly feel to our new home."

Obama's trust in her designer is critical, because she will rely on his judgment for all redesigns of the residence, said Letitia Baldridge, Jacqueline Kennedy's former social secretary and chief of staff.

"You better get one person whose taste you really rely on and make sure that person knows Washington," Baldridge said.

Whatever their design choices, the Obamas' effort to make over their private quarters is a personal one.

"It's completely up to the Obamas on how they want to furnish the residence," said McDonough, "and obviously it's not an overnight process."

Though they have free range to transform the White House residence, most rooms in the building are off-limits to dramatic redecorating.

The first family must consult with official groups like the Fine Arts Commission and White House Historical Association before restoring public spaces like the Red Room, State Dining Room and the White House grounds.

"Restoration of the living museum -- all the rooms not included in the private residence -- is under an entirely different purview," Lelyveld said.

But there is some leeway in the allotment of funds for renovations aimed at preserving the White House's historic past.

"If there's something the president wants that will improve the building or the grounds, the budget can be stretched," Baldridge said.

Cristina Corbin is a Fox News reporter based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaCorbin.