Kitchen counter height

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36 inches is the standard height, although in some areas 42 inch high counters are being installed.
The issue is that 36 inches is designed for the 'standard' American male/female at 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 10 inches of height. My wife and I are under 5 feet 6, she is 5 feet 2. 36 inch counters are simply TOO high for our comfort.
We want to build a new house and I am looking for resources that can get us 32 inch counter height, as that will be MUCH more comfortable for us
I don't care if this is a non-standard customization, I don't intend to EVER sell this house.
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You need to find a custom cabinet maker, these folks make the higher quality stuff which of course costs more than the better mass produced cabinets. Another idea might be to raise the floor about 3" by adding a new floor studs, plywood and floor on top of the old floor. It would also help working on the stove and reaching things in the upper cabinets. This way if for an unforeseen reason you need to sell, you could remove it much more cheaply than replacing the cabinets.

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Jeff wrote:

Full custom cabinets may be the answer. I have checked a few web sites and see that in some cases, reduced/increased width, depth and height are available at no upcharge. I have seen prices on the standard stuff some at Home Depot and Lowes, but I have NO idea what the per piece charges are for the higher quality stuff.
There are enough Asians and Hispanics at all income levels here that finding a buyer would not be extraordinarily difficult if we specifically said in the advertising that the kitchen countertops are optimized for folks between 5 feet and 5 feet 6 inches in height.
I watch FoodTV sometimes and I have met Sara Moulton. When she stands behind the counters stirring pots on the stove or preparing food on the counter, the countertop is well below her waist. Mrs Moulton is very close to the same height as my wife and I, actually as I recall she is between my wife's height and mine.
Rachel Ray on the same network has kitchen counters that are well below her waist.
Now this is a special situation, as these folks need to have the cameras close and above the cooking surface. They may operate on cushioned risers that are easily removable for cleaning, both to make it easier to stand and to catch stuff that is casually handled (Emeril for example) or simply drops off. I have seen photos of these cushions in print and on TV, but not that I can recall on FoodTV.
Even so, there are recommendations available that say that lower and higher countertops need to be available for cooks who do not fit the standard cooking model i.e. people who need to sit, children, people over 6 feet 4 inches or so, people under 5 feet 6 inches
The issue with the platform is keeping the area under the toe kick clean, unless the raised floor is sealed to the toe kick. Given that the standard height is about 4.5 inches, a 3 inch riser puts the clearance under the door frame at about 1.5 inches. Mops will be difficult to fit all the way back to clean this area.

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You can take 1-1/2" or so off standard cabinet height by trimming the cabinets at the base - you just lose toe-kick height. Much beyond that, you are in custom cabinet territory.
For starters, keep in mind that standard floor-standing appliances such as ranges are generally designed to match standard cabinet height - the biggest problem will be the dishwasher, which is designed to fit standard counter tops.
So you will need to be thinking in terms of cook tops, wall or under counter ovens, custom dishwasher cabinetry, etc, and you need to specify other stuff to match, for example plumbing for deep sinks with disposers and the like, as these will be sitting closer to the floor than plumbers expect.
Also, when planning remember that you will be losing a good deal of drawer space under the counters.
Michael Thomas, Paragon Home Inspection, LLC, Chicago IL mdtATparagoninspectsDOTcom
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MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC wrote:

Ok Dishwasher, dedicated ice maker WILL be problems, so some areas will HAVE to use 36 inch counters.
Rangetops and cooktops solve the range height problem.
1.5 inches gained by sawing off the kick plate is a good idea, but only partially solves the issue.
Yes, Full custom to get down to 32 inches seems to be the true solution.
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Not a "problem", necessarily - if you are going to be doing custom cabinetry and you REALLY don't care about resale value, there is no reason not to consider placing every work surface at a height optimized for functionality
For example kitchen designers sometimes specify a dishwasher placed 8"-12" off the floor, this makes it easier to reach the bottom rack:
http://www.tndhomes.com/tndandud_images/wellborn_dw.jpg
and many lines of semi-custom cabinets provide this feature as an option, for example, here's KraftMaid's:
http://images.kraftmaid.com/whykm/media/images/PassFeaDishwasher.jpg
Such layouts sometimes also specify a lowered counter height for cook-tops (makes it easier to see what's in pots) and/or for food prep areas.
Once you are free of design "standards" you can get pretty creative; one custom installation I've seen placed a marble counter top for rolling out pastry dough around 30" off the floor and cooled it by placement over a "mini" refrigerator with it's top cut open and set into a low cabinet supporting the counter top - when not in use the rolling surface was insualted by a cutting board with rigid foam on the bottom.
Michael Thomas Paragon Home Inspection LLC Chicago, IL mdtATparagoninspectsDOTcom
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MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC wrote:

Now we are TALKING. Raising the dishwasher and the counter above it makes a GREAT deal of sense for MANY reasons. The photo above showing an open slotted enclosure for bakeware items is also the RIGHT place for storage (but not for cooking unless the range/cooktop is just off the edge of the photo)
I won't go so far as to create the cool slab for baking.
Yes, thinking outside the box is USEFUL, and standard/semicustom cabinets can support most of these ideas.
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We like taller work surfaces, also. So we now install bathroom sink cabinets etc on a simple frame built with 4x4 lumber. Of course that is 3.5" . If we ever replace the kitchen cabinets, we'll do the same which will raise them up to about 40" including the counter top. The only problem is in concealing the 4x4 along with the standard kickboard.
Robert Gammon wrote:

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Robert Gammon wrote:

Search for "Universal Design" "The Smart Kitchen" ISBN 0-9606138-7-0 "High Access Home" Are good starting points. TB
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I don't know about the 'standard,' but the average is 5' 5" for women and 5' 9" for men.

Have you actually worked at a 32" counter for a length of time? How about platforms at the places where you want to be higher? Your stove and dishwasher are still going to be at the 36" height.

So then your estate gets screwed.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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Don Wiss wrote:

That would be his concern. How long do you think the average time between kitchen remodelings actually is? Kitchens aren't forever.
To the OP: Sure, it's your house, knock yourself out. It's supposed to fit you, not some imaginary potential buyer. You could look into something like CabParts which make the cabinet boxes to pretty much any size you want, and use one of the many door/drawer box/ drawer front companies that are online to furnish the species of wood and finish you like. It's not that much more work than buying ready made cabinets - just a little more effort in the planning stages. A 32 mm system (no face frames) is an easier way to go.
R
R
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Don Wiss wrote:

Cooktop, Rangetop solve the height problem here.
I have worked at a 36inch height in this house for 25 years, and it is uncomfortable. Wife frequently stands on tip toes while working on counters.
Wall ovens get the oven off the floor and roughly at eye level, or bottom rack at roughly the same level as the counter.
Dishwasher yes, has to have a 36 inch section, so does dedicated ice maker.
EVERYTHING else can be at 32 inches.

Well, Estate tax laws are fluid, so what we know about them thru 2010 says don't worry. Who knows what Estate taxes will be like in 25 years??? None of us have crystal balls to see the future with, none of us have time machines. Politics and federal cash flow will, as always, affect estate taxation.
I just won't worry about it. If my son needs to sell this house to pay the estate taxes, fine. But I do not think that will be necessary.
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wrote:

32" seems like it will be really low for all of the counters.
When my parents remodeled the kitchen they put in sections with different heights. (They did all the work including building cabinets). The part with the sink and dishwasher seems to be standard which works out well because the sink is... sunk. If you start at 32" and go lower, you might end up bending quite a bit. Plus they didn't have to make any special accommodations for the dishwasher as I did (see below). OTOH, they have a low section (don't know the height but 32" seems in the ballpark) which in my 5'5" opinion is a bit too low.
In my kitchen the counters are at 34.5", including the sink and dishwasher area which is pretty comfortable. When I moved in there was an undercounter refrigerator next to the sink which had required a cutout of the laminate counter. When I took the refrigerator out to install a dishwasher, I had to additionally remove floor tiles. If I ever re-do the counters, I will have to figure out some solution because I don't want to go to 36".
A couple of thoughts- before putting in all counters at 32", think of where you really need to use that working height. Grouping the sink and dishwasher in a section at 34" or even the standard 36" might work OK. Depending on how big your kitchen is, perhaps an island at 32" with a small prep sink would be ideal or even a 32" island without services but close to the standard sink would work.
Be sure to consider having different heights. What is comfortable for your wife might not be comfortable for you.
Sue(tm) Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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Curly Sue wrote:

I will not have an undermount sink. That moves the grit, gum, mold area out of view and darn near inaccessible. Top mount sinks ONLY, where I can deal with the issue directly.
Kitchen is roughly 15 feet square with sink, dishwasher on one side, rangetop, ovens to the left, refrigerator/freezer to the right and an island with prep sink, two burners (or Wok burner) , and deep fryer on the island surface.
Garnite is appealing for all countertops, but staining can be issue that tilts the decision towards an engineered surface (Silestone, Xodiac, Corian, and the like)
Heavy use areas will be to left and right of rangetop, between sink and rangetop and on the island.
Island at 32 inches makes alot of sense
Use a 36 inch counter beside the Refrigerator to hold the icemaker, between the refrigerator and the kitchen wall
That means sink, dishwasher to its right and the rest of the counter to the wall are at 36 inches. Wall ovens then are the divider between 32.5 counter and 36 counters with all other countertops at 32.5 inches.
I will live with lower counters as I want my spouse to be more comfortable in this kitchen. And should we sell, the house is then appealing to handicapped as the lower counters are a great benefit for someone in a chair.
Going to talk to a pair of experts in kitchen design today. Each has about 30 years in this and they have achieved certification in Kitchens and Bath design. Their questionnaire asks about height of primary and secondary cooks, age of children, activities planned in the kitchen, types of foods prepared....
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My wife has had granite in our two last homes..total of nine years and although she spilt lemon juice on it and rolls dough, puts hot breads, banana loaf etc directly from the oven right onto the stone-no stains.
We seal it once a year with 511 Impregnator and use only Glass Plus (no ammonia) for wipe ups.
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I have used daily both granite (a ruby/imperial red) and glacier white Corian. I'll take the Corian any day. But Corian doesn't impress anybody. Granite does. White Corian glows when your down spots and under cabinet lights are on. It doesn't stain. It doesn't chip, but can scratch. It is easy to keep clean. It has resiliency, so you can slam things down and something dropped may not break. And you always know where any dirt is, or where all those little bits of broccoli are.

Tables are 30. If you plan to sit at the island maybe even lower.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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Don Wiss wrote:

Island will be a food prep area. No seating areas will be provided in the kitchen except for a stool or too, no food service to be provided in the kitchen.
We'll have a seating area facing the kitchen from the breakfast area using a counter above the sink (keep folks out of the way while food prep is underway - but still able to watch and talk to us)
Yes Corian, Silestone and similar materials are VERY practical surfaces. However, Granite, SoapStone and similar are the IMPRESSIVE kitchens.
So I wonder if we cold mix materials in the kitchen, with impressive Granite in some areas, Corian or similar in other areas. Silestone for sink, stove and island areas, granite everywhere else. I've already decided that the front edge of the counters will be faced with wood, not granite, not Corian. The cabinet mfgs provide stained furniture grade hardwoods to match the cabinets with profiles similar to the Granite and Corian edge profiles. Its easier and cheaper to replace a damaged section of wood, than to replace a countertop.
I worry alot about banging into the edges of these expensive counter tops with things that are heavy and sharp that are dropped (or thrown) against the edge.
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I can't imagine Corian chipping. And I think if it did it could be repaired. On the granite I have now there is a large chip above the dishwasher. When moving large pots from the sink to the dishwasher they often bang into the corner.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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There are a few dishwashers a bit shorter than standard (some models from Fisher & Paykel, for example) - I don't know exactly how much shorter, but I do know that it's enough to occassionally get kitchen remodelers out of a jam when someone tiles into the dishwasher space over an existing floor.
Michael Thomas Paragon Home Inspecton, LLC, Chicago, IL mdtATparagoninspectsDOTcom
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MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC wrote:

The Fisher & Paykel Double Dish Drawers are 30.25 inches in height, so they need a cabinet that is roughly 30.5 inches from floor to base of countertop or roughly 32 inches for 3cm thick counters.
EneryStar rated, most of the Dish Drawers do the job with only about 2.4 gallons of water.
Selecting a single Dish Drawer (or two single dish drawers, one each flanking the sink), makes the unit only a shade over 16 inches tall, so with adequate protection from water leaks, storage space could sit underneath each and still fit a 32-33 inch tall counter height.
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