What is this? A kitchen for ANTS??
February 18, 2013 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm 6'5". It recently dawned on me that the reason I hate doing the dishes isn't due to my fundamental laziness, but because scrubbing dishes while bent over for half an hour really does a number on my back. What have you, fellow tall person, changed around your kitchen (and the rest of your home) to make it more accommodating to the vertically advantaged?

I'm a renter and plan to be for the foreseeable future, so re-doing my kitchen with raised counter-tops isn't an option. Any tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated!
posted by no regrets, coyote to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 6'1 and work at a bench in a lab. I find perching (not quite sitting, just sort of leaning my butt) on a very high chair more comfortable than working while standing.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:20 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd try using a dish pan on the counter or if that's too high, in the sink but propped up on some things. This works best if your faucet has a decent sprayer.
posted by advicepig at 11:26 AM on February 18, 2013

I'm in the same boat, although I'm a smidgen taller than you at 6'5.5". One thing that really helps is to get a dish brush, preferably with a built-in soap dispenser, like this one.

Why it's awesome:
1) because of the length (nearly 11 inches) you get more reach, so you don't have to lean towards the sink as much in order to get the sponge in contact with the dishes
2) because of the soap dispenser, you don't have to reach for the soap either, so you minimize leaning and switching between cleaning dishes and getting the soap. Aside from the ergonomic benefits, it's just very convenient overall and you can focus on actually getting the dishes done rather than fiddling with the soap or whathaveyou.

Hope this helps!
posted by un petit cadeau at 11:27 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm 6'6". In our bathroom, we installed three corner shelves similar to these. The top one, which only I can reach, is where my shaving stuff and contact lenses and whatnot go. Might be useful in your kitchen, too?
posted by jbickers at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2013

I am 6'5" with a bad back.

For dishes, the advice of getting a dish brush is excellent. I don't agree about the built-in soap dispenser, but that point is less important. Getting the extra reach using a long brush is key. Get one with bristles, not a sponge, regardless.

Also, I would recommend going shoeless (to bring you ever-so-slightly lower) and then investing in a good anti-fatigue mat that you place in front of the sink. GOD I LOVE ANTI-FATIGUE MATS, and your back will too.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:13 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

6'1 and the best purchase of my entire life has been a bespoke desk, a bit over two inches taller than the standard. Suddenly I don't have lower back pain! I know you're renting, but just that one thing has made so much difference, it really has been amazing. Also, buying it from a local place meant that it wasn't much more expensive than a standard desk, and I fully expect it to last as long as I do. Downside: had to saw the legs off to get it into my current flat, and then screw them back on again, but it's still working fine.

Taller friends fill the washing-up bowl and lift that out of the sink on to the raised worksurface next to it. Voila, dishes can be done three inches higher without redoing the kitchen.
posted by Coobeastie at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

For chopping, raise your cutting board a few inches. You may not be able to raise the countertop, but you can raise the work surface. (You could get one of those large cutting boards with rolling pin that are large enough to roll out pie crust on, and attach it to some 4 x 4 lumber cut to size--I'd make sure it's fixed so you don't accidentally flip it.)
posted by rikschell at 12:18 PM on February 18, 2013

My cousins (6' 4" and 6'8" are married to women under 5'8") so they 'customized' by using contractor buckets (5 gallon paint buckets I think - they may use something even taller) with a hole drilled in the side that fits a tub stopper. They both have tall faucets to work with so filling isn't a problem and work construction so always have access to buckets.

The bucket goes in sink with stopper in place, filled with water, dishes go from counter into bucket one at a time. Once dishes are washed, let the water out by removing the plug -- the side location is key for the stopper since you don't want to lift 5 gallons of water all the time to remove a stopper from the bottom. Also lets a smaller/less strong person empty and move the bucket if necessary.

According to my 'little' cousin, the stopper on his bucket leaks a bit but he's usually done with the dishes by the time it lets out enough water.
posted by jaimystery at 12:19 PM on February 18, 2013

I'm only 5'6", but I used to have to do a lot of dishes in a cooperative preschool with a kid-height sink! We used to put a dish draining rack upside down in the bottom of the sink and then dishes in a dishpan on top of it. You'll be about 4" closer to your dishes that way.
posted by apparently at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

We own a house, so it's easier to modify for our tallness. One great thing was to put an old pallet under the washer and dryer. They are both in the basement so no one sees them but us. My next project is to build a foot tall platform for under the fridge.
posted by freakazoid at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2013

6' 3" and have worked a lot of fabrication and repair jobs standing at workbenches all day. A common practice to reduce fatigue and maintain posture while doing so is to stand with one foot slightly raised and supported by any object, at any height you feel comfortable with. A child's stool, for instance. OSHA could explain why this works better than I could. Anyway, find an appropriate object around the house and give it a try.
posted by No Shmoobles at 1:05 PM on February 18, 2013

A good tip I picked up when you're standing for a long period in front of the sink is to crack open the cupboard doors and use the inside edge of the cupboard as a foot rest for one foot at a time. The change to your posture makes it easier, especially for taller people.
posted by thylacinthine at 1:18 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Get a nice thick wooden chopping board to lift things up a little higher when you are chopping. If you are worried about cleanliness, though I've used a wooden board for years with no worries, you can always put a smaller plastic chopping board on top. A separate butchers block might also work if you can find a way to lift it up high enough for you. My husband is 6'4" and he finds that easier.

Find a basin that fits into your sink for washing up, my mum uses a plastic one as she hates the sound of cutlery hitting the metal, but something similar would work for adding height or you could just sit it on the counter by the sink once it is full.
posted by wwax at 1:25 PM on February 18, 2013

Lots of good 'tall tips'. For dishes specifically I've move on to changing the way I do dishes. specifically I try
  • To keep the backlog small enough to allow pre-soaking smaller dishes inside larger ones on the counter.
  • I never fill the sink.
  • I use a brush (as mentioned above) instead of a scrubber, cloth or sponge.
  • Everything gets pre-soaked, then soaped, then rinsed.
  • Because the backlog is small, and I don't fill the sink, Everything gets rinsed under running hot water.
In the end I use more soap but I don't think I use much (if any) more hot water. Doing the dishes become a multistep asynchronous chore and counter space is not conserved (let alone optimized for) but the system cuts my bent-over-time to an absolute minimum. The fact that it also allows me tics to be happier about the cleanliness of the finished product (to the point of boiling a pot of 'dishes' if necessary, for certain neurological values of 'necessary') is probably worth noting for completeness.

This works somewhat better at my place than it does at my girlfriend's. YMMV.
posted by mce at 1:47 PM on February 18, 2013

When I (5'1") looked for apartments with my 6'4" ex-boyfriend, we specifically chose places with double sinks for a pre-soaking-basket and sink-for-washing setup; had a shorter kitchen table and thick cutting boards/chopping block for modifying counter height; kept stuff he used more in higher cabinets (like over the fridge, or even on top of the top cabinets in really cheap student apartments) and stuff I used more in lower cabinets (he still spent months complaining because he could no longer keep the microwave on top of the fridge, a secret tall-person hack).
posted by nonane at 5:49 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you have to scrub much, you need to be better at scrape-and-rinse immediately after use. For pans with baked on stuff, poor boiling (or nearly so) water with a few drops of soap in, right after cooking. Helps a great deal.
posted by Goofyy at 11:09 AM on February 19, 2013

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