Gov. Norm Bangerter returned from a three-week trip overseas to an office filled with $95,000 worth of new furnishings, including a $19,500 custom-made rug with the state seal woven in and a hydraulically operated table.
The governor wasn't sure Monday whether he liked the new look."I can't decide yet," Bangerter said, although he did seem surprised at the extent of the remodeling. "All I knew is the desk was to be oval and there'd be a table that would go up and down."
The new surroundings may take some getting used to. This is the first time the governor's office has been remodeled during the Bangerter administration.
Shortly after the governor left last month for a trade mission to Europe, the Soviet Union and the Far East that ended Friday, state crews began clearing out his office.
Gone are the boxy wooden desk and oversize simulated wood-grain conference table. Gone are the worn chairs and sofa. Gone are the soiled textured wallpaper and wall-to-wall carpeting.
In their places are items selected by Linda Slater, an interior designer hired by the state as part of a $3.5 million remodeling project at the Capitol that includes offices and meeting rooms used by the Legislature.
The state official overseeing the project acknowledges the remodeled office may not be to Bangerter's personal taste. After all, Bangerter is known to be more comfortable in his West Valley City home than in the Governor's Mansion. "This isn't a Gov. Bangerter design. This is something befitting the State Capitol," said Neal Stowe, director of facilities construction management for the state.
Stowe said the governor took some persuading before he would agree to have his office redone. Bangerter rejected several earlier plans that called for more than $500,000 to be spent remodeling staff offices as well as his own.
"The governor was uncomfortable about the money," Stowe said. "His initial concern was just getting some tables and chairs and cleaning up the walls."
Instead, Bangerter got an outer office that Stowe believes better reflects his position as well as new furnishings for the adjacent inner office used mostly as a retreat.
Bangerter's new burled-wood desk is smaller and more ornate than the desk he has used since taking office six years ago. The solid wood table that replaced his conference table is also more delicate, despite a hydraulic lift.
The concealed mechanism allows the governor to quickly raise the table to desk height for work sessions or lower it to coffee-table level for informal meetings.
Standard, state-issue chairs upholstered in vinyl and an aging sofa have been replaced by carved wooden chairs covered with a woven fabric and a settee covered in a silky striped material.
Rather than put down new wall-to-wall carpeting, a room-size wool rug was woven in England with the state seal in the center and a border of sego lilies, the state flower.
Stowe said the carpet is actually worth as much as twice the $19,500 it cost the state but that the manufacturer discounted the price in exchange for being able to showcase it in advertisements.
The walls were painted pale yellow and then hand-finished so they appear to have an almost suedelike texture. The ceiling was repainted and the gold leaf trim was touched up.
"This has got to be more of a statesman's office. It's not just a simple office where you conduct some business," Stowe said. "The governor represents 2 million people in there."
Here's how the $95,000 was spent to redecorate the governor's office:
Painting and floor refinishing $8,500