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  • Judy Lain

Applying the science of ergonomics in high-end kitchens

In your home, your high-end kitchen is the space that should be fit-for-purpose-built.  We often get caught up in the enthusiasm and excitement of how it looks in the showroom when buying a luxury kitchen, instead of taking a closer look at features such as worktop height, worktop depth and how wall unit doors open.

Designing and building a kitchen space that fits you is what kitchen ergonomics is all about.  Because ergonomics is the science that studies our interactions with the areas we live and work in and the objects we use.

At Valcucine, we paid careful attention to how people used their kitchens and identified seven major problems.  Here are some tips to use when designing your high-end kitchen.


The standard height for a worktop in a high-end kitchen is 85cm from the floor to the worktop. However, today, people are taller than when this became the standard. Working off a worktop that is too low or too high can be detrimental to the health of your back. Here are some suggested worktop heights, based on how tall you are:

· If you are 150cm – 160cm high, your worktop should be 84cm high

· If you are 160cm – 170cm high, your worktop should be 88cm high

· If you are 170cm – 180cm high, your worktop should be 92cm high

· If you are 180cm – 190cm high, your worktop should be 96cm high


Feel cooped-up when working in your luxury kitchen? Your wall units might be too near your face preventing you from having a complete view of the worktop. The traditional depth of a worktop is 60cm. A depth of 65cm – 80cm gives you more freedom of movement because you have more working space and a better field of vision.


If your wall unit shelf is too high, it makes it impossible to reach and see what’s on it, becoming wasted space. Increasing the depth (e.g. from 60cm to 65cm – 80cm) of the worktop allows you to drop the height of your wall unit from the standard 54cm above worktop to 48cm – 42cm above the worktop. This drop makes the contents in your wall unit more visible and easier to reach.


Traditional wall units require the user to open and close the doors continuously. You often leave the doors open when you are busy in the kitchen. This may give you a closed-in feeling or result in a few bangs on your head if you leave the doors open. Opt rather for a leave lift-up door, which allows you the freedom of movement and fewer headbangs.

Wellness and well-being is based essentially on freedom. One of Valcucine’s special features in their high-end kitchen range is the Aerius Wall Unit has a light and noiseless, ultra-slim, lift-up door. Read more about it here.


Traditional base units with shelves mean that you have to kneel to get to spaces at the back that are almost always inaccessble and poorly lit. Rather swap to full extension jumbo drawers when designing your high-end kitchen, that allows you to see everything inside, neatly arranged and easy to reach.


Traditional drawers that open partially don’t allow you a complete view of what is inside.  Full-extension drawers that pull out all the way allows you to see everything that is inside.


Kitchen corner units have traditionally always been a problem.  When designing your high-end kitchen space, you need to take into consideration how the cabinets open,  accessibility to items inside and rational use of space. Good solutions are corner base units with receding doors, and carousel racks are more ergonomic than a base unit with fixed shelves.

Remember you have the right to live in a safe, comfortable, functional environment so when you buy something, make sure it is ergonomically right for your, as well as beautiful.


A quality high-end kitchen is an investment, make sure you work with manufacturers that carry quality marks. Read about what quality marks mean in luxury kitchens here.

Planning a new high-end kitchen?  Looking at a modular unit or a kitchen with a continuous worktop?  Maybe a kitchen unit with plinths or rather wall-hung?  Here are some practical design tips when planning your luxury kitchen.

Valcucine South Africa is part of The Excellence Group.