Ergonomics of Kitchen Surface Used as a Desk

Route66ServicesJuly 9, 2014

I'm adding a 24" wide x 48" long "counter" extending into the kitchen at a right angle at the end of a series of cabinets.
It will be lower than the standard kitchen countertops, approx. desk height, so we can use it both as a place for a quick snack or sometimes as a desk. The top will be granite.
My questions concern the ergonomics of such a counter:
1) How tall should the countertop be for eating/writing comfort?
2) How far should the granite overhang the support structure for knee clearance?
I read that 29" is the office industry standard for desk height, but I'm wondering if that also applies to kitchens.

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plllog

30" is standard dining table height. Typing is easier and healthier from an ergonomic standpoint at something like 26". Table height is usually fine for reading, writing and other paper shuffling, for people of average height.

Knee space is trickier. First measure your legs. The one with the longest legs should sit in a dining chair with feet flat on the floor, shins straight up and down. The other should measure from the beginning of the lap to the kneecaps, and from there to the front of the foot. Then relax and sit comfortably and see how much more extended your legs are. Then practice sitting at a cabinet or box or something, with a board or tray on top.

I say all this, because snugging up to a cabinet is really uncomfortable. It's easier at counter height on stools because they naturally elongate your legs downward, and there's no floor underneath to give purchase when you extend.

My 21" is plenty comfortable for me. I have a table height surface on the back of my island, but it's open to both sides for sprawling. I'm average height. It's not as comfortable for our well over 6' guys. :)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:48AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Only thing I'll add is, at our old house, our desk area had a deeper drawer under it and it made it impossible to sit at comfortably. In our new house, we installed a very narrow drawer and it works much better.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:50AM
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lazy_gardens

The comfort height for eating is higher than for typing or writing ... one or the other will have to suffer.

My desk is at about 24" ... table is 27.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 5:54AM
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ineffablespace

Desk height for typewriting was developed for use of typewriters, not flat keyboards or laptops, so closer to dining height should be fine. The difference between 29 and 30-31 (modernist table vs. more current tables) can be compensated for by seat height

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 9:02AM
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live_wire_oak

Keep it counter height and it can also double as a tertiary prep area, and for your other functions needed. Counter stools are readily available as well. "Desk areas" are being ripped out of kitchens by the tens of thousands as mobile technology has made them obsolete.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:13AM
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feisty68

I think 15" overhang is good for a counter height surface. Adjustable chairs help a lot to make configurations comfortable for different folks. Adults and kids are comfortably using laptops at our 39" high island, but the stools are reproduction drafting chairs that adjust in height, swivel, etc. And, importantly, they have *backs*. Seat cushions are also planned to be added.

"Desk area" often ends up being "paper dumping zone". The good thing about using a worktop for a desk is that it's instinctive for me to clear and wipe it at least daily.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:34AM
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sjhockeyfan325

"Desk area" often ends up being "paper dumping zone".

Which, if its somewhat hidden, is better than using the actual kitchen counters for that purpose!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Skyangel23

we did put a desk area in, but it is regular counter height and we have a base drawer cabinet and an upper dedicated to organizing the "paper dumping zone" and hiding it. There are no other good areas for a desk/mail/laptop area that I can quickly visit while cooking and also monitor children's access while cooking/cleaning, which is very important to us. So it works for us.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:50PM
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