Tall People Working in The Kitchen 17

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

17 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.