With 196,000 followers and counting, the Twitter account rates the room in the background of newsmakers' and celebrities' Skype interviews on TV. The comic and sometimes biting reviews — on a scale of one to 10 — have included everyone from weatherman Al Roker to former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren to public health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Washington D.C. resident Claude Taylor created the account along with his girlfriend Jessie Bahrey after they found themselves spending more time looking at the backgrounds than listening to the interviews.
The couple started rating the rooms between themselves as they watched cable news together before deciding to set up a Twitter account for fun, Taylor says.
While many reviews discuss the art and plants inside the room, some people don’t give Taylor and Bahrey quite as much to work with. Beto O’Rourke sparked concern from users about a potential hostage situation after he went live from what looks like an unfinished basement.
“It was very upsetting. I mean, a lot of people were really worried for [O’Rourke],” he says. “He was stuck in the basement. There was like a big pipe next to his head. It could have been serious.”
Fauci has a great room, he says, though it’s a bit disheveled. With stacks of books behind him, Taylor says Fauci’s room gives off an “absent-minded professor” vibe.
Though he’s a Democrat, Taylor says he’s not biased — when it comes to special guest appearances from lawmakers’ pets. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander earned extra points for showing his dog Rufus snoozing in the background.
“We are bipartisan and we like Republican dogs,” he says. “We can't help it.”
In Spain, people rented dogs when lockdowns only allowed people to leave their apartments to walk their four-legged friends. Taylor recommends TV guests adopt a similar system to boost their scores.
Some people have made changes such as buying flowers after receiving a low rating from Room Rater.
Al Roker addressed Room Rater’s concerns by changing the lighting and the decor, Taylor says. The alterations earned Roker a 10 out of 10, a rare achievement.
“When people work with us, we work with them,” he says. “I haven't heard back from Ted Cruz though.”
Sometimes people need to move the camera down to improve their rating from a five to a seven, he says. Prince William, for example, pointed his camera too high and showed the audience his crown molding instead of art on the walls.
If placing books to decorate a room, use books you’ve read. Avoid decorator tips like organizing books by color because readers don’t do that, he says.
“When we see color-coded books, that's a three-point automatic deduction,” he says.
Room Rater sometimes asks celebrities why they aren’t using their awards as decorations. If Taylor had an Emmy, he’d place it behind him on a bookshelf.
In D.C., some people make what’s called an ego or vanity wall, covered with photos of the presidents, ambassadors and senators they’ve worked for, he says. But that isn’t an ideal visual.
“None of us care,” he says. “Put some art up there. Put a plant next to you. Add a lamp. Make it a more pleasing atmosphere.”
This segment aired on May 21, 2020.