The midcentury flower of choice: red geraniums


Longtime readers may recognize this photo, it’s one of my favorite images of idealized 50s family life ever. And ooooh, I like that colonial-modern kitchen, too! But look, it also includes pots of red geraniums on the window sill. In my detail-focused time travels back into retroworld, I have most definitively noticed a trend to include red geraniums in postwar kitchen designs. I have a few theories why: 1) Geraniums are big and bold – in synch with the times. 2) They are middle class… egalitarian. 3) They need sun, and we were California-livin’. 4) They look really good with cool colors like aqua and robin’s egg blue. 5) They also play into the patriotic sensibilities of the time. I run a flickr group called Midcentury Modern Red Geraniums –  take a look at about 50 images in all. The majority of them come from flickr friend American Vintage Home, who has quite an online archive of vintage photography. Thank, you American Vintage!

  1. Deb says:

    Did you know that this very picture is featured in the musical movie version of Little Shop of Horrors? As Audrey begings to fantasize about how her life would be if she were married to Seymour she sits at her vanity table and opens up a Better Homes and Gardens to this ad. This leads into a film sequence of her perfect life, complete with plastic furniture covers, a knotty pine den with TV trays and TV dinners, , their two children playing with a Howdy Doody puppet and an incredible Tupperware party. It’s worth watching the movie just for that sequence, but there’s so much more too.

  2. Propagatrix says:

    Ah, the ubiquitous geranium-phormium-bacopa outdoor urn! Sometimes vinca was substituted for the bacopa, but only a philistine would omit the geranium.

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