Height – The Often Neglected Dimension

Designers speak in three dimensions – width, depth and height. Length is too easily misinterpreted and therefore taboo in the design world.

From a space planning perspective width and depth are of obvious importance. Without properly accounting for both, objects are either too big or too small, which inevitably impacts scale overall.

Many furniture providers like Urban Barn, Casa Life etc. provide online tools to automate the floor plan process but the problem with floor plans is that they don’t account for height which is equally, if not more, important to a rooms overall success.

Here are a few important heights and tips to reference the next time you’re purchasing furniture, renovating or re-designing your home:

Dinning Room

Standard dinning table height is 30”

Standard chair height is 18”

TIP: As a rule of thumb allow 12” between seat height and tabletop.

If your chairs have arms consider their height as well to ensure they fit underneath the table and don’t take up valuable floor space.

Light fixtures should be no more than 36” above your dinning table but also shouldn’t obstruct anyone’s view when seated.

Kitchen/Bathroom/Laundry Room

Standard counter height is 36”

Standard bar height is 42”

Upper cabinets are typically 18” above your countertop

TIP: Be sure to purchase the right type of stools – counter vs. bar height. I also recommend using the above heights as guidelines. I come from a relatively tall family so when it came to building our home 20 years ago we raised each counter two inches.

Family/Living Room

Sofa height can range dramatically based on its style and aesthetic. Something more modern will be lower than something more traditional. The important thing is to purchase your sofa first and plan the rest of the room around it.

Coffee tables should be the same height or an inch or two lower than the seat of your sofa unless they double as a writing/work space and can therefore be a bit higher.

Occasional chairs should be similar in seat height to your sofa.

Media consoles should be slightly higher than your coffee table.

TV’s should be sitting flat or tilted downwards so the middle is at eye level when seated.

Side tables are typically between 22 and 30”.

TIP: Try to ensure side tables are equal to or just below the arm of your chair or sofa.

Office

Standard desk height is 32”

Standard chair height is 18-20”

TIP: If space is limited consider using a dinning room chair at your desk provided it is comfortable enough to sit in for several hours.

Once again account for the height of the arms. Using an adjustable chair, although not always as aesthetically pleasing, does minimize the risk and is often most functional.

Bedroom

Beds range in height based on their platform and especially their mattress.

TIP: If you’re going for a modern, sleek, low format look don’t get a 16” mattress. It may be comfortable but it will completely ruin the aesthetic

Side tables should be slightly higher than the mattress.

Table lamps should be 24 to 27” inches tall so the middle of their shade is near eye level when sitting on the bed.

TIP: Lamps that are two low won’t allow you to read in bed, while lamps that are too high will glare and hurt your eyes.

Artwork

The middle of your artwork should be at eye level or approximately 58”

TIP: Don’t hang artwork higher than 5 to 9 inches above a sofa and 7 to 10 inches above a table.

Biggest Tip of All: When planning a space I highly recommend sketching elevations to scale as though you were standing in the middle of the room looking at each wall or corner individually. Doing so not only helps you visualize the finished space, it also ensures the height of each object works well overall and relative to each other.

Take it from me – someone that has learned this lesson both the easy and hard way – a room that is not well planned and neglects any of these three dimensions does so at the risk of its own aesthetic and function.

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