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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 example kitchen designers sometimes specify a dishwasher placed
8"-12" off the floor, this makes it easier to reach the bottom rack:
and many lines of semi-custom cabinets provide this feature as an
option, for example, here's KraftMaid's:
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
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
Paragon Home Inspection LLC
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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....
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.
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).
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
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
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.
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).
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.
Paragon Home Inspecton, LLC, Chicago, IL
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.