Are your upper cabinets too high for you to reach? Tired of leaning over a low counter? If you or someone in your house is shorter or taller than average, a standard kitchen probably leaves you stretching, bending, or climbing on a regular basis.
With a few design changes and careful product selection, you can easily create a kitchen with dimensions tailored to your needs.
Include different counter heights.
If your whole family is tall, 38-inch-high countertops might be a good fit, but this could affect resale. (It's less awkward for tall people to work at short counters than vice versa.) So if you want to raise counters, make sure they will be relatively easy to modify to a standard 36-inch height later -- use standard base cabinets and add a piece of wood under the countertops that can be taken out without disturbing the cabinetry.
Be creative about storage.
Common sense suggests that we should store all items as close as possible to the place they'll be used. Weight is rarely a consideration, but it should be. Store heavy items between hip and shoulder height to avoid over-stretching. Store medium-weight items just above or below the heaviest ones, but never higher than eye level or below the knees. The lightest items, such as cereal boxes, should go in what many people consider the least-accessible cabinets -- those above the head or below the knee. Out of the way? Maybe. But a falling cereal box won't break your toe.
Make high kitchen cabinets more accessible.
Consider installing Rev-A-Shelf's pull-down shelf mechanism on top shelves. This product, which can be installed in standard wall cabinets, lets you pull shelves out and down toward you, making those high storage spaces more useful for everyone. Visit rev-a-shelf.com for more info.
Continued on page 2: Ergonomic Kitchen Design Tips