In Parts 1 and 2 of our Home Ergonomics series, we looked at some general concepts around customizing your home to make it more ergonomic as well as tips for choosing furniture and tools. Today, we’ll give you some tips to help you make your kitchen work for you.
1. As you work in your kitchen over the next few weeks, notice which areas you find yourself working in the most, which areas are most pleasant, and which ones snag you up or feel uncomfortable. Write it all down so that you can see the changes that have to be made and think through them carefully.
2. When designing your kitchen from scratch, your general contractor or cabinetmaker will likely use the principles of the kitchen work triangle or of integrated work zones, depending on your home’s layout. There are many resources explaining these concepts; this article is an excellent read.
3. To avoid a lot of bending over or stretching up high, store the items that you use most frequently within easy reach. That would likely mean, in the lowest shelf of the upper cabinets or in the top drawer of the lower cabinets. Plus, store the items in the area of the kitchen where they are primarily used. Put those items that you use least often up high and out of the way.
4. We’ve all had experiences where we’ve been kneeling down on the floor reaching into the back of a cabinet to get something that is tucked away at the back. This is easily remedied by opting for large drawers instead of cabinets for floor-level storage. Having a variety of drawer sizes also helps you keep items well organized.
5. Standard kitchen counter height is 36 inches but there are few people who are “standard” height and there is no code requirement for kitchen counter height. That means you can have you builder custom build your cabinets to whatever height works best for you. In our family, we have some extremes: I’m just hovering around 5 feet tall and my husband is considerably taller. We opted to have the large work surface of the island set a few inches lower than standard and kept the main counters at standard. You could also have two different heights at the island.
6. Don’t forget to have a proper kitchen lighting plan in place to illuminate your work areas in addition to general lighting.
Ergonomics in the kitchen really means adapting the kitchen to you rather than trying to adapt your body to the kitchen. With a well-thought out layout and some help from your home improvement specialist, you can create a kitchen that your whole family can be comfortable working in.