Kitchen Cabinet Extremes

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Joe,
How tall are the owners? I'm 6'4" and the standard height of 36" for counter tops is pretty comfortable. The only issue is when I wash dishes by hand. The height isn't the issue, getting the pants wet while washing is.
The cabinets are about 19" above the counter and are OK, but going up an inch or two would be more comfortable for me. Even at that height, I cannot easily see to the back of the upper shelves, and need to stand on something to reach way in the back. Especially on the inside corner cabinet.
I'd stay with standard depths for the upper and lower cabinets. They could be adjusted to accommodate particular storage of plates, bowls, etc., but I wouldn't make the upper cabinets anything close to 18" deep, unless you can get at them from the other side.
A bigger issue for me is the height of the bathroom mirrors in the house. I have to bend/slouch over to shave or see my eyes. Very annoying. That may be another area where you could make some money. :-)
Are they planning on moving soon, or move often? Do they have children? If not, having the cabinets at the most comfortable height for them is what really matters. A couple of inches may not be that much of an issue for resale, but making the lower cabinets 48" tall would be. Upper cabinet size as well. As long as it is close to standard, it should be OK.
Another consideration is the overall proportions of the cabinets to the room. Putting huge cabinets in a room w/ 7-1/2 to 8 foot ceilings will make the room look even smaller that it is. It will also start to look like something from Alice in Wonderland.
You may want to mock up the lower cabinets with sawhorses and plywood and have them pretend to prepare food and use them as well. For that matter. Mocking up a set of upper cabinets with cardboard and hanging them on a fake "wall" can help identify any issues w/o spending too much time on the construction. Corregated cardboard and a hot glue gun is all you need. Rigid foam insulation works well too. These don't have to be pretty. You're going for proportion and position, not fine details.
Hope this helps,
-- d phi / dt
Joe Bemier wrote:

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wrote:

Stop looking at the Lee Valley catalog while you wash the dishes.
-Leuf
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@dontemailme.com says...

we made the finished height of the kitchen cabinets 37.75" and the bathroom cabinets 35". The upper cabinets bottom at 18" above that.
Hardly anyone notices the height difference unless they're doing something at a cabinet. The most usual comment comes from women who are in the kitchen with my wife. They often remark that they don't have to bend over so far, find it more comfortable to do 'whatever', and openly wish their's were higher.
After this many years of the higher cabs, going into a house with the standard 36" makes me feel like I'm working at about knee height -- that extra 1.75" REALLY makes a difference.
Tex
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Joe Bemier wrote:

House I bought has a *high* cabinet in the master bath (previous owner was tall and had back problems) I noticed it but didn't think much of it. Now after living here for a year I hate it. I'm 6' and the counter is an uncomfortable 40". This is of course bending over for teeth brushing, shaving, etc. Poor SWMBO is 5' nothing.
Anything other than the standard 36" is going to add *a lot* to the cost even if the bases are just raised up because of extra tall toe kicks (which would probably look like crap). There is also the issue of the 18" needed between the counter and the uppers to consider.
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Joe,
You've got several replies - stating the 'standard' height / depth of 36"/24". That works for many folks. If it were to be 'completely custom', the general design criteria is to have the countertop something like 3 to 5 inches *below* the elbow (with the forearm held horizontal). This is to provide workability (and leverage) with tasks like hand mixing and such.
-- john (Registered Architect)
Joe Bemier wrote:

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Joe Bemier wrote:

I have the opposite problem. I am currently building new kitchen cabinets and would have liked to make them about an inch lower than normal as my wife is 5' nothing on a good day ;). Unfortunately because of dishwasher heights it's a can't do. She will just hafta wear stilts.
regards John
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John B wrote:

The countertop height does not have to be uniform throughout the kitchen. Having a raised/lowered section makes sense in any kitchen design. As someone pointed out, an island is a natural place to work in the height change.
An inch difference is a tough one, though. Such a minor difference could easily look like a mistake. Similar to the time I designed an addition for a client, to be built by the client and his dad, and they made the sunken living room 2" down instead of 2 steps down. I was scratching my head on that one.
R
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On Wed, 27 Sep 2006 03:16:48 GMT, John B

Sliding kick under the cabinets, just a wild idea. (sixoneeight) = 618
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Markem wrote:

A very interesting idea
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Joe
Mine are 37" and are fine. They were lower and before adding nice new countertops we removed the base and added a taller base, 8", with drawers in the base. Now we have some nice larger drawers to hold flat things. Best thing we ever did to a kitchen.
The drawers take up 90% of the volume of the base. I don't like to let volume go unused.
Bob AZ
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On Tue, 26 Sep 2006 16:55:10 -0400, Joe Bemier

Thanks very much for all the responses, guys. I have not met his wife but he is about six foot five or six. The *Custom Cab* Shop is trying to push them away from modifying and I imagine that is because the have jigs and templates for the standards, so the suggestion to just raise the kick zone is a good one.
I'm going to Print out the rersponses and pass them to the owner.
Thanks again!
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Joe Bemier wrote:

Here's one more...
For height, have him measure floor to venter of navel with normal shoes and add one inch. If they have normal body proportions that should work well for them.
I'm 5'8"+, my wife 5'2". I built all our cabinets - including lavatories - so the tops are between 37 & 37 1/2. No more aching back bending over a lavatory sink! :)
--

dadiOH
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"dadiOH" wrote in message

That's the nice thing about "custom" ... you don't have to live smack in the middle of the bell curve. ;)
However, does your wife complain that when she washes her face water runs down her arm and drips off her elbows onto the floor?
That's the biggest complaint that I've heard from users of non-standard (high) height bathroom vanities.
As a builder, if you're going to err on the low side, the bathroom vanity is the place to do it. Most are a 1/2" lower than the standard kitchen 36" countertop.
Proof of that can be seen in the height of off-the-shelf pedestal sinks, which are almost always lower than custom built cabinets you see.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 8/29/06
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Swingman wrote:

Nope. One does need to keep the sink well forward though.
--

dadiOH
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If you have room consider 48 inch deep base cabinets. While not a standard dimension, it leaves plenty of room for small appliances and stuff like canisters and still leave plenty of room to work. Shelves can be put on rollers to access the stuff in the back, and drawers ban be made deep also, just be sure you have the floor space to extend them.
As far as counter height is concerned, make them to be a comfortable height for the owners. If this is higher than standard and resale concerns are an issue, then build them with a higher then average sub base that could be removed if the future buyers prefer a lower counter top.]
Ideas on the upper cabinets might be to bring them out from the wall as accessing the back might be difficult. The space to the rear can be wired to accommodate some lighting.
Form follows function. If the home owner is springing for custom cabinets building them to their spec's costs only a little more but forcing their backs to accommodate short countertops is a pain forever.
Also consider mounting the dishwasher at a height that is more comfortable to load and unload. This will save lots on bending.
--
Roger Shoaf

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Roger Shoaf wrote:

Works well if one has arms long enough to drag knuckles on the floor; otherwise, it would be a tad difficult to reach stuff on top of the counter at the back.
--

dadiOH
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Ergonomically speaking...
standard height of 36" for kitchen cabinet/countertop combo is for an average height person of 5'6".
It's "acceptable" to go to 40/42 (I forget which) height.
Sections for pastry kneading (etc.) are comfortable at 30" (for a stnd height person).
12" deep upper cabinets can be as low as 14-15" above the counter, depending on what's going on below.
Range hood height is usually higher, esp. for gas.
Sink cabinet is more comfortable higher than the stnd 36" (usually).
Don't be afraid to vary the heights for comfort. Sounds like these folks would be rather unhappy w/stnds in some spots (since you mentioned the guy is 6'6").
Unless they're planning on reselling rather soon, they should go with a design that suits them. People do change kitchens, I think it's about every 15 years, and new owners down the road might want to change the "dated" style anyway.
Just a quick, couple cents worth of thoughts. Renaya
On Tue, 26 Sep 2006 16:55:10 -0400, Joe Bemier

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