Geraldine’s 1951 Hoover High School Home Ec project: 27 pages of Storage Conveniences in the Home

retro-kitchen-organizedFlash back 62 years — to 1951 — and what a treat we have today:  The 1951 Home Economics project completed reader Angela’s mom Geraldine when she was in the 11th grade at Hoover High School in San Diego, Calif. Entitled “Storage Conveniences in the Home,” this delightful primer is pieced together scrapbook-style, using yarn taped to pages as pointer lines. We declare it museum worthy — a wonderful piece of popular culture ephemera that recalls life — and the education of young women — in the early 1950s.

mid-century-ranch-houseAngela wrote:

My mom, who eventually got her bachelor’s degree in home economics, sent me a project she did in high school, in 1951. It’s fabulous. Pictures from magazines, different diagrams of kitchens, examples of types of shelving, etc. I know your site fans would dig it.

vintage-stoveWe asked Angela if her mom could tell us a bit more. Geraldine replied in a flash:

As an 11th grade student at Hoover High School in San Diego, I chose Home Management for one of my elective classes.

mid-century-family-roomOf course, the class was part of the Home Economics Dept.

vintage-tile-bathroomThe assignment was to use storage space wisely throughout the entire home and garage.  Four other girls and I were given the kitchen storage space project.

vintage-blue-kitchenEach of us presented our magazine cut-outs to the class and I was the only one who earned an “A”.  Why?  I briefly explained one can spoil a dinner recipe if you are unable to find the correct knife for mincing fresh herbs due to clutter.  Store only what you often use and remove the clutter.

stone-and-wood-vintage-bathroomOnly an “A”, Geraldine? We give you an A+! This is such a wonderful time capsule of school life in the 1950s — thank you, Geraldine! Keep digging through your archives, we want to see More!


And yes, Angela, we dig it. We dig it a lot. Thank you!

Readers, did you discover any new storage ideas from Geraldine’s report? Pam says she’s diggin’ the built-in perfume shelves in #20

All of the images from Geraldine’s high school kitchen and storage project can be seen much larger in our slideshow — for ease of reading captions and admiring all her hard work.  Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

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  1. Mary says

    I think this is the best thing you’ve ever had on your site. And that’s saying a lot, because every one of your posts is wonderful!

    • Sara of WA says

      I agree!! And that blue kitchen with the stenciled roller shades (might be on the west side of the house as that’s when sun shines in during diner prep) are to die for!!

  2. Sarah g (roundhouse) says

    What a great project, and put together so well! Home ec is one of those classes that has fallen out of favor. At my school ( graduated 05) it was available but not required and was considered an easy A or even yet, a class for those who are not college bound. I think this class should be required though, it’s sad how many people I know who can’t sew a button, don’t do their laundry properly and have no idea how to manage household expenses etc.

    • Angela says

      I completely agree! I graduated high school in 2002 and we never even had the option of a home ec. class, even though many of us wanted one. I had to take a costume class in college just to learn how to sew. I love sewing and make quilts all the time for gifts. People are always surprised that “such a young girl” knows how to sew because it seems the craft is almost defunct now :-(

    • says

      Sara, we graduated the same year! I think it was the same at my high school, but in middle school, everyone took wood shop, metal shop, cooking, and sewing for like 6 weeks each. I thought that was a good way to do it.

    • Mary Elizabeth says


      Even when I was in high school (graduated in 1965), home ec. was neither required nor encouraged for girls going on to college. There wasn’t room in my schedule. So I took a sewing class at a fabric shop after school. And I wanted to take wood shop, too–my grandfather had helped me build my own dollhouse when I was seven or eight years old and I wanted to learn new skills. My guidance counselor told me not only didn’t I have time in my schedule but also girls weren’t allowed in shop classes. As a result, lots of smart girls went to college without basic skills in cleaning, cooking, balancing a checkbook, mending a ripped seam, replacing a button, all that stuff. And they were helpless when a lamp needed rewiring or a simple shelf needed to be assembled in the dorm room. Luckily, I had parents that taught me all these things. I remember when one of my dorm mates threw out a nearly new bathrobe because it had a little stain. I fished it out of the trash and introduced her to oxygen bleach.

      Mostly I loved the hide-away sewing center. I saw something like it in a Shaker museum. Many thanks to Geraldine for sharing her project with her daughter so her daughter could share it here.

  3. April says

    This is so cool, and what makes it even more interesting for me is that my dad graduated from Hoover just a few years before Angela’s mom

  4. says

    I like how the man-caves are called “Secluded Place for Father” and “Father’s Dream Room.”

    Also, the washer and dryer are really neat. Not sure I’ve ever seen ones like that before.

    I can’t help but think, though, that if you need that much storage, you simply have too much stuff!

  5. Janet in CT says

    WOW! Loved this and could spend hours studying it. What cracks me up is that who now has the time to organize like this? I guess mothers back then who did not work could spend their time making their homes perfect! I doubt many people these days have cabinets or drawers for bread, cereal, jellies, vegetables, and LIGHT BULBS?! And what a laugh to see a big cabinet dedicated to the Nesco type roasters, which were a must back then in every household. Note nothing referring to storage for Saran wrap or paper towels or tin foil; baggies didn’t exist and maybe not plastic wrap or other similar products, so no need for a drawer for it. My MIL must have thirty types in all different colors, in a pigeon hole spaces in a cubicle in her pantry. Excepting the brown floor, I love the kitchen in photo #1, with that dreamy teak looking server in the background. Something I do miss is towel storage in bathrooms and love the shelves with the pink ones. And that towel rack in the kitchen is fantastic. It is called a swinging rack but I think it also pulled out of the cabinet on a slide. In one house we rented, there was one like it and inside the cabinet was a heat vent; you always had warm towels and it was wonderful! That I would love to see revived! So much to see and comment on here but it was another world back then!

      • Kay J says

        I totally agree – the lightbulb cabinet is priceless! I ended up using one of the overhead cabinets in our laundry room for our lightbulb storage since we don’t need to replace them as often as they did in the 1950s!

    • Chris says

      The OCD freako in me was absolutely PURRING at all the specific storage areas. I will confess that a few years ago, I go a little crazy with my label maker. I love organization and having really anal, designated storage areas. Luckily, I am more spastic about it in my head than I am in reality. Some of Martha Stewart’s crazy over-organization gives me shivers of joy and envy! :)

  6. Puddletown Cheryl says

    You know what storage I miss? The broom closet. My mops, brooms and vacuum end up in the entry closet. Not a pretty site for guests. Sigh.

  7. lynda says

    As an “old” home economics major, I certainly enjoyed this, very much. I would say this would have been a dream home for a fairly affluent family in 1951. And the difference about “man caves” today and earlier rooms for father, they are now not about pursuing any work or hobbies!
    I think we are missing out in schools by not teaching child development, consumer finance, home maintenance, nutrition and other useful subjects that encourage a more productive life. Great pictures capturing the post war era.

    • Pam says

      My daughter, who is 26, teaches Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Ec to those of us over 40.) It encompasses so much more than cooking and sewing now. She teaches life skills that every student should be required to know, but unfortunately, being an elective, it’s one of the subjects that’s first to be cut when there are budget issues.

  8. Janet in CT says

    One thing that jumped right out at me, and isn’t a good thing, is the controls on the wall oven in photo #2. Right at the eye level for toddlers and before the controls were push-type child proofed. I don’t think I have ever even seen one like it so I would guess that style didn’t last long.

  9. Gretchen says

    You could spend hours playing “spot the mid-century products” with this- Costco step-stool! Guerlain perfume! and does anybody still need blueing for their laundry? This is a great reference source for mid-century taste- note the daughter’s French Provincial dressing room, and the colonial maple china hutch- as Pam has pointed out, these were as popular as “Danish Modern” style furniture. I love the flower design on the roller blinds in image 3. Thanks, Geraldine, for sharing this with us!

  10. vegebrarian says

    What a fun story! I have to say, I like the hideaway mirror and the closets the best.

    As a teen I used to cut out pictures of my dream house and wardrobe (of course, I still do this now!)- after my grandmother died we found her high school scrapbook and it was filled with pictures of living rooms, comforters, fancy dresses (and Katy Keene comics!). It really made me smile to think we were so alike. I framed all of the George Petty pin-ups I found loose in the back of her scrapbook and they’re hanging all over the house.

  11. Jmb says

    I love this! My ranch is from 1951 and I’ve had to rebuild the kitchen and bath literally from the floor up. What a neat flash back to home economics in the 50s

  12. says

    Wow, I love this! Believe it or not, I graduated in the mid-1990s, and in my home ec class (freshman year at a parochial school—perhaps that explains it?), we did a similar project: our instructor not only had us do a little flipbook of well-organized home cutouts from magazines (none of my cutouts, I am sure, were this swank), but we had a few weeks of cooking classes (my partner and I didn’t do well with our assigned souffle, but after a minor setback, our raspberry fondue was a HUGE hit).

    What memories seeing Geraldine’s project brings back. Again, though…her cutouts are super-fab. Great stuff—what a treat!

  13. Janice says

    I’m not that young (graduate HS in 1975), but it’s odd that one of the first things I thought of was, “Wow, she had to do all that without the internet.” I can picture Geraldine sitting at her desk in her bedroom or the kitchen table pouring over magazines and cutting out each and every picture and handwriting her tag lines (by the way, very nice penmanship – another lost art!) What a wonderful treat and as much as I loved looking at the pictures, what I really loved was the image of that 17-18 year girl working on a school project and taking pride in it. Thank you for sharing Geraldine and Angela!

  14. Neil in San Francisco says

    Well, I’m trippin’ on those swank chrome cabinet handles in image #2! I’ve seen a lot of handles, but never came across those before. And, “Daughter” must have swooned for all that purple in image #22!

  15. CarolK says

    We about the renovate our kitchen and many of these ideas are utilized in current cabinets: the pull-outs, the mixer lift, the corner lazy susans, cutlery drawers, and even bread drawers and broom closets. I don’t quite trust a mixer lift with my Kitchen-Aid, I think I’ll just stick with my bread box and I plan to move my mother’s old china cupboard out of the dining room and into the kitchen. I do need corner storage and knife storage. I did see a Chemex coffemaker and and old vacuum coffee pot. I also saw a couple of things that would violate current safety codes like outlets very near the sink.

  16. Kay says

    My mom also graduated from Hoover High in 1953. We both loved the pictures and the many practical storage ideas from then and for now.

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