Tall People Working in The Kitchen 22

Work surfaces in the average modern kitchen are approximately 36″ high (even lower for older kitchens that were built when people were shorter and men rarely participated). This has been found preferable for a 5′ 5″ person [1]. Significant deviation from 5′ 5″ will result in poor ergonomics and thereby present the potential for injury. I’m 6′ 7″ tall. At some point I will design a kitchen optimized for my height or perhaps adjustable for multiple heights, but for now I use a few tricks to improve the ergonomics:

Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

Raised Cutting Board: Rather than raise the counter tops, why not raise the cutting board? Four legs will do the trick. Check out the full raised cutting post to see how you might make it.
Raised Cutting Board

Using a Stool at the Sink

I find using a stool at the kitchen sink to be an extremely effective way to deal with low sinks. It is an awesome way to wash vegetables or do the dishes. Admittedly, it is a bit of work open the cupboard doors and put a stool there, but you get used to it. And I only do it for lengthier tasks like washing vegetables and doing dishes. For shorter tasks like washing an apple, I will just lean my head against the kitchen cupboards to decrease the torque on my spine from leaning way over.
Raised Kitchen Sink Alternative: The Stool for Tall People

Adjustable Stool: 19″ to 27″
Adjustable Pneumatic Stool: 21″ to 27″
Wood Stool: 24″

Sitting at Low Counters

I often sit at a chair or kneeling chair that I have selected that suits a table or overhanging kitchen counter to do a lot of the prep work.

Kitchens for Tall People: Kneeling at Counter

Kneeling Chair

The Sink Splits

This is a rather funny one. Before I realized I could use a stool to save myself from hunching way over at the sink, I used to do something I call the sink splits. To prevent my feet from sliding out, I would butt them up against the adjacent cabinet and the oven. The bonus is it’s a great stretch!

tall people working in kitchen at kitchen sink


tall people working in kitchen at kitchen sink back view

The Fridge Proposal and Cupboard Prayer

Sitting and kneeling let me get at the lower objects while maintaining good posture in the kitchen. At times the hard ground can get to my knees; perhaps I’ll try knee pads at some point. Of course a better solution for the fridge is to get one with a pull-out freezer drawer on the bottom.

Tall people working in kitchen kneeling at fridge and sitting at stove

What tall tricks do you use in the kitchen? Please post them in the comments.

[1] J. S. Ward and N. S. Kirk, “The Relation Between Some Anthropometric Dimensions and Preferred Working Surface Height in the Kitchen”, Ergonomics, 1970.

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22 thoughts on “Tall People Working in The Kitchen

  • Anonymous

    the same can be said for bathroom fixtures. I'd love to see a company offer adaptable furniture for tall people. I would like to see sinks that can be raised or lowered to meet specifications.

    personally, the worst for me is having to get water from the spout in front of the refrigerator. I haven't figured out how to use it without water spraying everywhere.

  • Bruce Brown

    Remodeled our bathroom and kitchen to take care of most of the issues. Lower cabinetry is still where it was, but the counter, sink and surfaces are all higher now.

  • Wiert Jan Huttema

    We have got a nice kitchen with work surfaces in 4 hights. All cabinets have the same plint at the bottom. So the cabinets have more space inside.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, this is hilarious. I just stumbled across your site after googling zero gravity chair for tall people. Very helpful tip you provided about extending the tubes. Then I saw this tip about using a wide stance for doing dishes. THANK YOU! It helped! I am now rethinking posture and reorganizing everyday projects.
    Sincerely appreciate the info.

  • Anonymous

    The wide stance while doing dishes works! Thank you for helping me to realize I am not the only one suffering with these issues.
    PS Your tip about extending the zero gravity chair was spot on. Thank you

    • Tall Sam Post author

      Glad you like it! I love relaxing in with my head supported by my extended zero gravity chair. As for the sink splits, these days I’m more into using a stool with the cupboard doors open. More comfortable than the splits, though not nearly as humerous 🙂

  • Melissa

    Love it! I’m an Interior Designer and tall, so I understand both issues. The standard height at 36″ was killing my back and neck. Since I do the majority of the cooking I designed my kitchen with wall mounted base cabinets and had my husband install them at 40″ (with counter-top). Even the standard base cabinets can be adjusted with a taller toe kick. If you utilize a cook-top & wall ovens they can be adjusted during planning and installation. If we can adjust for those with disabilities, why not adjust for our height.

    • Tall Sam Post author

      Thanks Melissa, those are some fantastic suggestions. By eliminating the one size fits all stove/range combo unit, it would be way easier to put together an ergonomically useful kitchen!

  • Byron

    6’9″ and a bit here, and I had been doing the refrigerator lunge for a long time. A vertical split fridge in my last place made it much better, and we just reno’d our kitchen and put in a Sub Zero (fridge above, freezer drawers down). I know it is damned expensive, but I consider it a tall tax. Man is it nice to look into the refrigerator at eye level.(Better than a luxury car!) The whole kitchen is up an inch w 37″ counters, this extra inch makes it better for all of us, and shouldn’t kill resale value. The dishwasher up that inch makes a surprising difference, as does the cooktop, and wall oven.

    Our household of 6 features no-one below 5’11” so no-one notices at all until the lilliputians come for dinner.

  • Chris Acklin

    I’m laughing … 5’10” woman here. I’ve been talking about the craziness of counter heights and the impossible heights of sinks since I moved out of my first house. I didn’t realize why I felt so comfortable in my 1st home until one day my next door neighbor said ” I bet you love that house.” I replied “yes I do love it but why did you say that?”. Turns out the woman who had it built was a very tall woman who had every counter/vanity surface and every bathroom mirrored medicine chest raised to the proper height for her. When a friend from undergraduate school visited she said, “I love your house but I can’t see in any of the mirrors”…she stands 5’2”. I had not realized the explanation for my comfort until these two comments were made. Most of the population goes along never realizing that tall folks have their problems with not fitting into a lot of “standard design” situations. I know a couple, he is 6’4″…she is 5’2″ and keeps putting kitchen things in the cabinets below the counter. She seems oblivious to the fact that every time he needs a pot or a pan he has to get down on all fours, open the cabinet and crawl around like a 2 year old. This is particularly annoying when he is dressed in a suit…he is an attorney. How about the airline employees who say on the loudspeaker, “put you seat back, relax and enjoy your flight” and now I have 2 dislocated knees because some 5’4″ person in front of me needs MORE ROOM to relax. How about the fact that tall people, while often very successful cannot own/drive many kinds of cars…the front window ends below their eyes leaving them focused on the sun visor. My husband was 6’6″ and we slept diagonally in the biggest bed we could find, the sheets and blankets were never tucked in and don’t get me started on trying to buy clothing…A lot of folks say they wish they were taller and while I’m happy as I am, I really would like it if everything didn’t hover around my crotch…it’s unseemly.

  • Kellie

    I’m a 6 ft tall woman. My kitchen is small, even for a two bedroom apartment kitchen. I have effectively two work surfaces and lost most of one to a dish drainer. I found if I put the dish drainer on top of the refrigerator that I have a lot more room. Current roommate is fine with it. It also means that any future roommate will need to be at least 5’10 to find this convenient. However, it has helped me tremendously. I am looking at your cutting board in envy and may try to have one commissioned.

    • Tall Life Post author

      Sounds like a very tight space, which can be challenging, but there’s a certain amount of joy that comes from making what you have work well for you. Raised cutting boards are actually really easy to make yourself, see this page: Raised Cutting Board for Tall people. You just purchase a few pieces and screw them together, hope you give it a try!

  • Charlie

    I’m 5’10” out of bed.My Kitchen Counter-tops are 33″ in height. I find that i always have to bend and because i live alone i prepare my own meals and while preparing big dinner meals i find that it does my back in every time even when i wash the dishes the sink is even lower than 33 ” and there for my back is continuously bending while washing the dishes and when i go to stand straight i can feel the pain shooting up my spine. I’m not sexist at all but the Kitchen was designed in the intentions for women not men. A 5’4″ to 5’5″ female can prepare long meals and wash the dishes very conformable without having to bend. It’s easy as pie for them but for someone of 5’10” and up it’s a struggle with implications later on. I go to sit on my couch and all night my back is painful. Kitchen Designers should realize that people come in all shapes and sizes. There are many single males as well as single females and a single male will have to take charge of his kitchen making it his own so why shouldn’t he or she is she happens to be 5’10” be able to work comfortably in the kitchen as well. Design Kitchen counters so they can raise some how.My cousin is the same height as me and he had custom counter-tops installed in his home. His counter-tops are i believe around 42″. My Aunt is about 5’1″ and she can cook with no issues with a 42″ counter-top.It would be better if some one designed an adjustable counter-top that raises when you need it raised. Turn a handle or install an electric function that will raise or lower it. I’m 5’10” and all though i feel very tall i really do sympathize for those 6’7″ guys in the kitchen.