Wednesday, October 13, 2010

living in a world built for short people

When I do the dishes I always get a sore back. Why? Because I can't reach the bottom of the kitchen sink without bending over. When I studied interior design, I learned that the standard height of countertops is 36" or 91.5 cm. It's not that different from the 33" I have in my kitchen, but it's enough to make doing the dishes uncomfortable. I'm not particularly tall (5'-7" or 171 cm) but I find a number of things here just plain tiny.

Take our kitchen table, for example. Average table height is 29" or 74 cm but the one we inherited from Jean-Marc's parents is only 27" or 68.5 cm. Add to that the height of the apron underneath and you barely have enough room to fit your legs under the table. In fact, at JM's parents' house, I can't get my legs under their table because there is only about 4" of clearance!

Then there are bed sizes. In Canada I had a spacious "queen" size bed (60 x 80" or 153 x 203 cm) and here the standard size is 140 x 190 or 55" x 75". When we purchased double beds for the farmhouse, we splurged on luxurious 160 x 200 or 63" x 79" because we knew we would have taller North Americans and Northern Europeans coming to stay (that's like a queen, only 3" wider, for those of you doing the math). Jean-Marc and I have the standard 140 bed at home and it's fine, considering we are both the same height, but there is really only an extra 20 cm to spare in length, so sometimes I find my feet dangling over the edge a bit because I don't sleep with my head against the wall. I just checked online and the average height of men and women in Canada and France is the same. I find it interesting that the scale of furnishings is different by as much as 5 inches. I can't wait to have my own kitchen one day and choose the height of my countertops and sink! In the meantime I may resort to my friend Caitlin's method of doing dishes in France by standing with my feet far apart to make me shorter. Hey, it may save me a few trips to the chiropractor! (more about chiropractors and how they ask you to take your pants off, later)


  1. it's called the giraffe technique, and I have to employ it here in Cyprus too. But people here are genuinely short, so I guess I can't complain.

  2. Ha! I'll have to pay more attention to giraffes!

  3. Same story in Japan - but at least I didn't have to roll up my sleeves because I could never find a shirt that would reach my wrists!