Your Countertops are Probably at the Wrong Height, Here’s Why

White kitchen with dual level countertop
If you’re 5’7”, congratulations! You’re among an elite group of “perfect-heighters”, meaning the standard countertop height of 36 inches was specifically designed with you in mind. For the rest of us, that unfortunately means our countertops aren’t tailor-made for us. Good news is, you can raise or lower your countertops to your liking, making that complete kitchen gut and remodel as customized as it gets.

Normandy veteran Liz Reifschneider knows the ins and outs of creating a customized kitchen, especially when it comes to countertops. “When someone decides to lower or raise their countertops, it’s usually because they’re an avid baker, looking for the perfect height to knead dough or roll out cookies,” say Liz. “In other cases, people who are closer to 5 feet tall and under or 6 feet tall and over may greatly benefit from an adjusted countertop height as well. This can help ease back strains and aches from a work surface that is too high or too low.”

Before you decide to lower or raise your countertops, there are a few things to consider, the first being the cabinets themselves. “The height of your cabinet boxes will need to be adjusted from the standard, which virtually all cabinet makers can do. They will need to be shortened or heightened depending on whether you’re looking for a higher or lower work surface,” Liz notes. “When doing this it’s important to keep your cabinetry’s toe kick at the standard height so that while standing in front of them, you still have that important toe space and so that they don’t necessarily look like they’ve been changed in height.”

You may be wondering how high is too high, and how low is too low? “Although standard desk height is 30 inches, we recommend and more commonly see a 34 inch height on the low end. This, of course, can vary and be adjusted according to your personal preferences,” Liz adds. “For taller individuals, we recommend nothing higher than 38 inches.”

If you’re searching for a bit more kitchen customization, set up a time with Liz to discuss your home’s possibilities. Make sure to register for one of our upcoming virtual seminars where we’ll discuss all things kitchen, bathroom, and even additions. Follow Normandy Remodeling on Facebook and Instagram to keep up on the latest home remodeling trends and maybe even learn a hack or two.

Being True to Your Design Self

How many times have you seen a daringly designed space and thought, gee, I love that but I don’t think I could ever pull that off? We want to trust our gut, but somehow the over-thinker in us seems to always win. Design preferences are no different.

Normandy Designer Jackie Jensen has had her fair share of apprehensive clients who fell in love with a bold decision, but then quickly get cold feet. “I once had a client who had her eyes set on a red range for her kitchen remodel,” recalls Jackie. “Once she saw the range in 3D renderings of her own kitchen, she started to question whether it was the right fit. I think what scares people the most is that something may look great in a picture, but once they realize it’ll be part of their very own home, they get overwhelmed and scared. In this case, we designed a kitchen with very neutral colors outside of that bright red range, which brought in the warm tones of the oven and made it feel like it really belonged in the space. She absolutely loved the finished product and thought the space tied together perfectly.”

Another instance was a client who wanted a dramatic and daring bathroom remodel with black accents. “She instantly fell in love with a black vanity and a countertop with strong black veining to match. Since she wanted to tie the black in with the rest of the space without it becoming too overwhelming, I suggested that the best way to do so was to use a black accent tile,” Jackie recounts. “The first tile I pulled, she immediately became entranced. But as the meeting wore on, she worried that the black tile would be too much. We went back to the drawing board and looked through a lot more neutrals that lacked the drama, but something kept pulling her back to the original black tile. She ultimately listened to her gut and went with both the black vanity and black tile, and completely loved it.”

Taking the plunge with a bold design statement can be much easier when you’ve got a designer on your side to help you work through the details of the design, so your kitchen or bathroom has all the drama you’re looking for, without being overblown. “It is possible to have too much of a good thing, so it makes sense for you to be cautious when you’re stepping outside your comfort zone,” says Jackie. “Maybe you opt for a kitchen with some floating shelving and add bold colors of accent like a deep turquoise in accessories, which can be visually demanding in large doses, but amazing when used sparingly. Another way to play with color is by painting the inside of a tray ceiling, which can instantly change the character of the room, but is easy for you to tone back if you tire of it over time. The important thing is to be honest with your designer about what you’re excited about, and what you’re afraid will be too much so we can help you bring your ideas to life in a stylish way that you’ll love for years.”

Now you may be thinking, but what about resale value? Ah, the ultimate dream killer for your favorite design risks, but it doesn’t have to be that way “If you’re planning to sell your home within the next few years, then I recommend people try to renovate a bit conservatively, meaning select neutral colors and appliances that have broad appeal,” Jackie notes. “But if you’re playing to stay for five years or longer, then by all means, remodel for yourself. If you fell in love with a particular look or bold design choice, I promise you’re not alone. The fear that you won’t be able to sell your house at some unknown date in the future shouldn’t keep you from loving the home you have now, especially since the new owners will likely make some changes when they move-in, regardless. You deserve to love your home, so go for it and you won’t regret it”

If your design inspiration photos are packed with bold options, or if you feel like you need some help finding some more unique options, set up a time to talk with a Jackie about your kitchen, master suite, or whole home remodel. If you’re still on the hunt for your favorite look, check out our photo gallery or follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get your daily dose of design inspiration. We also offer educational seminars for kitchens, bathrooms, home additions and more. Visit our events page to see if one of these workshops can help you on your way to creating your perfect space.

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