Melania Trump defends White House renovations as she prepares to step down as first lady

First lady leaves her role with lower approval rating, at 47 per cent, than her recent predecessors

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 8, 2020 US First Lady Melania Trump addresses the Marines Toys for Tots drive at Joint Base Base Anacostia Bolling in Washington, DC. First Lady Melania Trump released a farewell message on January 18, 2021 as she prepares to leave the White House, saying that "violence is never the answer," weeks after the president's supporters stormed the US Capitol. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM

Latest: Petition urges Jill Biden to undo Melania Trump's changes to the White House Rose Garden

As the first lady, Melania Trump, prepares to leave the White House, she has defended the renovations she has made on the "People's House" in an 850-word message posted to the White House website.

During her four years as the first lady, Melania has taken on a number of renovation projects. Most notably, she has redesigned the White House's bowling alley, tennis pavilion and Rose Garden, and faced criticism for each.

"The projects that I have overseen during the last four years are ones which I believe will not only preserve the house’s heritage but enhance the experience of its beauty and solemnity for generations to come," she wrote.

"Through a team of dedicated advisers whose passion rose above mere cosmetic alterations, my attention was brought to areas of the house which were in great need of structural restoration and preservation."

Hinting that incoming first lady Jill Biden may not complete the work she has started, Melania wrote: "The restoration and conservation of the priceless Zuber wallpaper in the Family Dining Room, perhaps the most ambitious project of the administration, remains to be completed, and will be, I hope, admired by all who see its beauty."

Melania leaves the White House with lower approval rating than a number of her predecessors. She currently has a 47 per cent approval rating, compared with Michelle Obama's 69 per cent, Laura Bush's 67 per cent and Hillary Clinton's 56 per cent, according to a CNN poll.

Her approval rating is, however, higher than that of her husband, departing resident Donald Trump, who rings in with 33 per cent.

Scroll through the gallery below to see images of the White House Rose Garden:

This is not the first time Melania has defended her work at the White House. In March, she retweeted images of the tennis pavilion, with the message: "I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative and question my work at the White House to take time and contribute something good and productive in their own communities. #BeBest".

"Be Best" is a reference to the public awareness campaign promoted by the first lady, focusing on well-being for youth and cracking down on cyberbullying.

The essay was released on the same day as a video message from the first lady.

"I ask all Americans to use caution and common sense to protect the vulnerable, as millions of vaccines are now being delivered," Melania said. "In the midst of hardship, we have seen the best of America shine through."

She also touched on the recent violence in Washington and the Capitol riots, without directly referencing them, by saying: "Violence is never the answer and will never be justified."

Watch First Lady Melania Trump's farewell video message here:

The video, encouraging people to "be best" and to "choose love", comes after the first lady was criticised for refusing to give Dr Biden a tour of the White House, failing to take part in a tradition that has run for more than 100 years.

According to Biden staff, the incoming first family will be greeted at the White House by an usher.

Track Melania Trump's style evolution here: 

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