As incoming presidents and their families settle in at the White House, they get to put their distinctive stamp on the place—which means everything from new paint and carpeting in the private residence to fresh drapes and artwork in public rooms.
But when it comes to the Oval Office, one item takes precedence over all others: the desk! As Joe Biden readies himself to take office as our 46th president, one of his first personal decor decisions is picking which one he wants as his office centerpiece.
There are actually six different desks that have been used throughout history by past American leaders, and each new commander in chief gets to select the one that suits him best.
As a fun run-up to this decision, we’ve asked design pros to predict which desk Biden is most likely to choose and why. Check out the half-dozen options below, along with their interesting backstories, and then place your own bets.
1. The Roosevelt desk
Made for Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, this desk resided in the West Wing until 1929, and then was stashed until 1945, when Harry S. Truman rescued it from storage. Other presidents who have signed legislation at this desk include Dwight D. Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, and William Howard Taft.
Will Biden choose it? “The Colonial Revival lines of this piece are simple, clean, and uncluttered, and would fit traditional Biden’s style, so this is a strong choice,” says Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.
Odds: 10 to 1
2. The Johnson desk
Upon becoming the 36th president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson had a desk made for him by the Senate’s carpenters. Johnson is—so far—the only commander in chief to use it.
Will Biden choose it? Although this mahogany pedestal desk appears rather old-school in style, it actually sports caning on the front, which is making a comeback in today’s home decor, along with wicker, bamboo, and rattan. If the president-elect decides to take a trend-forward approach to outfitting his office, he might select this desk.
Odds: 20 to 1
3. The Hoover desk
This desk is named for Iowa native Herbert Hoover, who was president during the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt also sat at this solid and staid piece, which was donated by a furniture company in Michigan.
Will Biden choose it? This desk won’t win any beauty contests, but its design might appeal to Biden for other reasons.
The clean lines of this block-front desk make it a no-nonsense workhorse—much like Biden himself, says Julie Coraccio, the organizing pro at Reawaken Your Brilliance.
However, the Hoover desk is currently on display at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. And, because there are other stronger desk options in this bunch, we see Biden passing on this one.
Odds: 40 to 1
4. The Wilson desk
It’s unclear how this desk gained its moniker as it apparently wasn’t named for Woodrow Wilson. (Perhaps it may have been called Wilson after Henry Wilson, an early vice president.) Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon both used the mahogany desk, and it’s perhaps most famous for having been not-so-secretly outfitted with microphones used to record the Nixon White House tapes.
Will Biden choose it? Since Nixon faced the prospect of impeachment and then ultimately resigned, we’re guessing this isn’t the vibe Biden wants to bring to his version of the Oval Office.
Odds: 50 to 1
5. The Resolute desk
Probably the most famous and well-known of the six desks, the Resolute comes with quite a history. This intricate piece was crafted from timber taken from the British Royal Navy’s HMS Resolute, and it’s been the preferred seat of power for Kennedy, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.
Will Biden choose it? “Biden sat opposite the Resolute for eight years [as Obama’s vice president] and now is getting his turn on the other side,” says Cedric Stewart, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, DC. He’s quite familiar with the Resolute, so there’s a small (albeit unlikely) chance he’ll want to work from the same desk that his dear friend Obama used.
If we’re being completely realistic, though, Biden’s going to want to make a clean sweep of Trump from the Oval Office. So, despite the Resolute desk’s legacy with Obama and Kennedy, the new administration will be ready for a fresh start—and that probably doesn’t include the “beautiful Resolute desk,” as Trump famously referred to it.
Odds: 60 to 1
6. The C&O desk
Along with the Johnson desk, the C&O desk is the only other piece in this group that was used by only one president. George H.W. Bush worked at it in the West Wing, though a handful of other staffers did use it later on in a nearby study. Made from walnut with gold handles, this Georgian-style piece is both elegant and timeless.
Will Biden choose it? Our money’s on the C&O desk. Why? Biden’s love of trains, of course! C&O stands for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, and this desk was built around 1920 for the owners of said railway and later donated to the White House.
If you know anything about Biden, you’ll recall he’s a train man from way back (in fact, his nickname is “Amtrak Joe”). He’s famous for commuting on Amtrak from Washington, DC, to his family’s home in Delaware for 36 years. Plus, he estimates he rode more than 2.1 million miles of track in his lifetime.
The bottom line: This desk, with its rich history and connection to a Rust Belt railway, will be a top prospect for the incoming president.