updated 01/20/2009 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 01/20/2009 AT 9:00 AM ET
Laura and George Bush discovered there wasn’t much to load onto the moving truck as they prepared to turn over the keys to Michelle and Barack Obama on Tuesday.
“Very, very few things,” Mrs. Bush told PEOPLE in the weeks leading up to the couple’s move back to Texas and a newly purchased home in Dallas. “I mean, of course I have a million books, and lots of clothes – now.”
Showing PEOPLE around the White House’s private quarters on the second floor, Mrs. Bush said she didn’t arrive in Washington with a whole lot of clothes, back in 2001, when President Bush was first sworn in.
“But I’m leaving with a lot of clothes, which is great – I’ll never have to buy clothes again.” Pausing, she added with a chuckle, “As I don’t gain a lot of weight.”
Asked what else she was taking with her from the White House, Mrs. Bush shrugged. “Well, nothing. All this furniture belongs to the White House,” she said. “The only thing I brought was one chest of drawers that belonged to George’s grandmother.”
Thanks to her habit of antique shopping in Georgetown, Mrs. Bush says she already has on hold furniture for most of the rooms in their new, four-bedroom home in Dallas’s tony Preston Hollow neighborhood. And she’s selected a grass-green nubby fabric for matching, custom-made drapes and headboard for the master bedroom.
But she’s still on the hunt for a dining room table and bedside tables.
Return to Normal
“Dallas has a big design center, so it will be fun to do that kind of shopping,” she says, eager to get back to what she calls “a normal life.”
As for the new house itself, Mrs. Bush says with a grin: “Room for grandchildren, big yard for [dogs] Barney and Miss Beazley. I think we’ll love it.”
And, if she could sneak something out under her coat on Tuesday, what would that be? Mrs. Bush laughs and looks around her “Puzzle Room” (JFK’s old bedroom) at masterpieces by Andrew Wyeth and Cezannes on the walls.
“Any number of these paintings would be great to have,” she answers. “We have quite the fabulous art here that I’ll miss.”
2007: President & Mrs. Bush share insights about marriage & family
2001: Inside the surprising world of Laura Bush