Home Ergonomics, Part 1 – Customize Your Home

by Rachel Laurendeau on January 10, 2013

We are accustomed to hearing about ergonomics in the workplace and, while I agree that having a proper chair and workstation is imperative, what about all of the hours we spend at home and the ergonomics of our homes? Here are some points to consider as you find ways to make your home fit you and your needs.

Defining Home Ergonomics
“Home ergonomics is the idea of having components of a home that have been designed with the body’s comfort in mind. Not only will the user be comfortable, it will also be much easier to use (whatever it is, a snow shovel, a knife) AND will also prevent injuries.” (Source: Ergonomics-Info.com)

Investing In An Ergonomic Home
From a cost-analysis point of view, the best time to invest money into creating an ergonomic home would be when you are building a customized “forever home” or remodeling a house in which you plan on spending many more years. Since ergonomics are quite personalized, making these types of home improvements will not likely be a good investment if you are planning on moving or selling your house in the near future.

Bathrooms
The standard toilet height is 14.5 inches from floor to top of the bowl while a “comfort height” toilet measures in at 16.5 inches high. Those extra two inches make the toilet more comfortable for taller people and make it easier for people with disabilities to get up. In our home, we chose to put in a comfort height toilet in the master bath to accommodate the taller person in our household and a standard toilet in the main bath to accommodate the shorter residents (the children and me).

Standard bathroom vanity height is 30 inches. However, your builder or cabinet maker can custom build the vanity to your exact specifications during construction or bathroom remodeling. Also keep in mind that vessel sinks are placed on top of the vanity, therefore higher to reach. There are many other ergonomic add-ons like proper lighting, barrier-free showers and a sit-down vanity or make-up counter that you can consider during bathroom remodeling.

Kitchen
We will address the specifics of ergonomic design in kitchen remodeling in an upcoming blog but for now, suffice it to say that the layout of the kitchen can have an important impact on your comfort and the usability of the kitchen. For example, standard 36 inch counters can be customized to your height or needs, as can the height of the upper cabinetry and shelves. Even if there are people of different heights in the home, there is nothing saying that you cannot create two separate work areas of slightly different heights to accommodate each.

For more information on creating an ergonomic home, talk to your local home improvement expert or home remodeling contractor.

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