Every part of Your Perfect House should accommodate you, personally, as much as possible, including your kitchen design. After all, we are trying to design the house that is simply perfect for you. And that should certainly be true when it comes to designing your kitchen. When you buy clothes, you choose the style you like. But that’s not all. You also select the size that fits you. This is part of the selection process with clothes since people come in all shapes and sizes. If this is the case with clothes, why should kitchens come in only one size?
If you happen to be “vertically challenged,” or, as my wife likes to say, “petite,” you should think about making a few adjustments in your kitchen design to make your kitchen easier to use and much more efficient. We did exactly this when we remodeled our kitchen. We made three basic adjustments. We lowered one counter top. We added a step stool. And we lowered the upper wall cabinets.
Lowering the counter top was my wife’s idea. She said that when she came home from grocery shopping, she would bring the grocery bags in with several of them hung over her arm. I watched her technique. She would slip her forearm through the handles of a bag or two and then grab another bag with her hand. This let her reduce the number of trips back and forth to the car. The method worked fine until she got to the counter top where she wanted to put them down. Because she is not very tall, she had trouble lifting her arms up high enough to set the heavy bags on the counter. The solution in our new kitchen was to provide one section of counter top at a lower height. A typical kitchen counter top is 36″ high. A typical table top is only 30″ high. That height was perfect for her. She could easily place the bags on the counter top and slip her arms back out of the handles. No sore shoulders. No strained back. Here’s a picture of the finished section of cabinets and tops. The other side of the lower counter top is at the standard 36″ height. We have knee space and stools there and we use it for serving and as an eat-in bar in the kitchen. And this solution does not add costs. Cabinets come in standard sizes. Both 36″ high (including counter top thickness) and 30″ high, are standard. There are not “custom size” costs.
You might have noticed the cubbyhole under this lower counter top. That is our solution to the second accommodation in our kitchen design for short people. This is where the rolling, library-style step stool stays when not in use. You probably are familiar with these stools. they rise up slightly on wheels so you can move them all around. then when you step on them, they drop down a fraction of an inch to the floor and sit solidly in place. Instead of having the stool out in the middle of the floor, getting in the way of everybody, it can be rolled into its “home” beneath the counter top. This stool has two steps and let’s my wife reach the upper shelves of the wall cabinets.
Our third adjustment to our kitchen design for short people is we lowered the wall cabinets two inches. The industry standard in kitchen design is to place the wall cabinets eighteen inches above the counter tops. but there is no reason why you can’t place them wherever you want. We chose sixteen inches above the counter tops because it still allowed enough room below the wall cabinets to be comfortable and keep the whole top useful. But this dimension lowered the wall cabinets enough that now my wife can reach the second shelf a lot more easily.
The so-called standards of kitchen design are useful to know. But don’t be afraid to adjust things to make your kitchen design “perfect” for you, no matter what size you are. And unlike tailoring, there is no extra cost for these kinds of alterations.