Posted March 29 2013, 12:45 AM PDT by Lorelei Barrett

Oh My Aching Back: Cabinet Heights to the Rescue

Posted in Living by Lorelei Barrett


When approaching a kitchen or bath remodel or new construction, you can make things a lot more comfortable by getting creative with the heights of your base cabinets.

Standard heights traditionally have been 36” tall (including the thickness of the countertop material) for kitchen base cabinets, and 29” - 30” tall for bathrooms. These heights are good overall, but are surely not set in stone and can make life a lot more comfortable with some tweaking.

Consider the users’ heights when deciding on cabinet heights. If everyone in the household is tall, consider having the main area of the kitchen raised an inch or so. Chopping will be much more comfortable that way, and it will help avoid arm and back fatigue. If household members are various heights, consider having one area raised higher and another area at the standard height. If you have someone who requires lower heights, such as a wheelchair user, consult a design professional to assist with their particular needs.

In the bathroom areas, consider the primary users when determining the best heights.  The master bath would likely serve adults, so having the base vanities at a taller 34” height will help to avoid stress on the users’ backs when utilizing the sink for face washing and tooth brushing.  If a child uses the area, keep a small step stool handy for those times. A main hall bath outside the children’s rooms could have the standard height. If the children are a bit older (and taller) and you intend to remain in the home longer than a few years, consider the taller height there too for when the children are taller, as they do grow quickly!

Just a few adjustments can make for happy backs, and aren’t difficult at all to achieve if you plan ahead.


After 20 years as an interior designer, certified antiques appraiser, and personal property and lifestyle specialist, Lorelei Barrett added real estate to her quiver of skills in 2010. Her designs, products and advice have been featured in numerous regional and national home and building publications. She has been featured regularly on numerous television and radio shows, as well as home, design and trade shows,  sharing her wealth of knowledge and advice. Lorelei resides near Spokane, Washington on a small farm accompanied by two horses, one cat and two West Highland Terriers.