[UPDATE: After this post ran, which mentions Iris Harrell's Bay Area/Silicon Valley remodeling firm, I got a progress report from Iris. Since the time I heard her speak, she has grown Harrell Remodeling to 47 employees (well, they're more like owners, as this is an ESOP company, or one with an employee stock ownership plan), and so now there is much less of a waiting period to get a job done. If you live in that area, this should be very good news. End of update.]
I spotted an ask-an-expert piece in the San Jose Mercury News and it caught my eye because the expert is Iris Harrell, a super-well-respected contractor in the Bay Area.
Iris used to be a schoolteacher, and then became a contractor. Her company employs lots of women, and I’ve heard her say that if she senses a potential client will be disrespectful to her employees, she won’t take the job. And because her work is of such high quality and her ethics so stellar, there’s typically a long waiting list to get a job done by Harrell Remodeling.
So, anyway, this piece is about designing a kitchen for cooks of differing heights. In this case, the husband is way tall and the wife not so much.
Here are some tips:
Design an island with two heights: 30 inches for the cooktop and some counter space, and 36 inches (the typical height of a counter) for part of the island. The lower portion could contain a salad sink.
Avoid a big range hood where the taller person might hit his head, and go for a downdraft-style ventilation system (pictured).
Build a floor-to-ceiling cabinet, rather than an upper and lower with counter space between, so important items (like plates and cups) don’t end up in the upper cabinets where the shorter person will have a hard time reaching.
Plus, you might want to consider hiring an actual kitchen designer. The fee you spend on this will be long forgotten while the functionality of your kitchen will be with you daily. Certified kitchen designer Susan Serra suggests 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Kitchen Designer.