White House moving day: Behind the 5-hour flip between the Obamas and Trumps

/ Source: TODAY

The sprint begins the moment President Obama leaves the White House Friday morning with his family to head to the inauguration of his successor.

That's when the clock starts at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for 95 staff members, who have roughly five hours to flip the White House for its new residents.

Furniture gets swapped, walls repainted and artwork replaced, all in accordance with the wishes of the incoming first family.

"They literally move all your stuff out in one day," President Obama explained recently on "The Tonight Show."

The White House may have served as home to the Obama family on Friday morning, but its welcome mat belongs to the Trumps that afternoon.

"I don't think anyone else in the world moves within five hours from the previous tenants,” said Stephen Rochon, a retired rear admiral and former White House chief usher who oversaw the transition between President George W. Bush and President Obama in January 2009.

Each family makes their wishes known. President Obama, for example, had only one special request.

“He wanted a nice shower head,” Rochon recalled with a chuckle. “And so we had to make sure that that was in place."

The Oval Office gets a slight revamp, too, with each president adding personal preferences.

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But even at the White House, moving day mix-ups can happen.

Nancy Mitchell, the White House's first female usher, remembered the day the Clinton family arrived — and the first lady’s inaugural shoes disappeared.

"We started tearing out items in the closet and looking for things. And finally they found them in Chelsea's room, covered up in some other items,” she said. “I never felt so happy in my life."

More difficult than the physical move, however, are the farewells between the staff and the families they faithfully served.

Former White House usher Skip Allen recalled a surprise response he received when saying goodbye to one first lady.

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"When the Reagans left I said, ‘Mrs. Reagan, I'm going to give you a hug.’ And she said, ‘Well, why in the world did it take so long for you to do that?’” he said.

"They all keep in touch. They go to each other's weddings and funerals. They have lunch and dinner together," said White House biographer Kate Anderson Brower. "It's a real family among these people"