Practical help for the vertically gifted
In this feature Mike will give practical tips to help us tallies in everyday issues like how to make your office chair go higher etc (Mike doesn't have a West Country accent but i like to add one on when reading it ;)) Please email us (in the form below) if you have any practical tall issues you would like advice on?
First up it is how to make an affordable tall walking stick:
A couple of folk were asking about tall walking sticks?
I’m 6 feet 7 inches tall (2.01metres) and well built. Substantially well built.....
I’m getting no younger
My knees don’t work as well as they used to – osteoarthritis – and I need a walking stick to assist my stability when I walk
Finding a walking stick tall enough and strong enough for my needs and preferably one that folds for when I travel
What several suppliers call “tall” isn’t really...... (strike 3 attempted purchases!)
There are several (premium!) suppliers out there of lovely strong walking stocks who want to relieve me of over £100 to meet my needs
Plus some extra money for a tall version that allows me to adjust to my height, rather than “Joe Average”
The Eventual Solution
Click picture to link to the product
N28539 - £9.86 each
. Other models are available – but these seem strong...
Order three at £9.45 - £15.54 each plus carriage plus VAT – under 45 quid.
Take apart all three stick.
Cannibalise one stick, removing the two centre sections of the stick (leaving handle and bottom section and ferule as spares)
Insert one extra section into each of the two remaining sticks and reassemble
Voila! Two strong walking sticks, suitable for a taller person, folding and able to support the weight – at about a third of the price of a single premium one.
Mike Tunstall – “I are an engineer.........”
Mike’s Shed – adjusting the world to suit you, rather than compromising with the world all the time……
There are some tall folk who compromise the way they live, their health and stature to live in a Standard world. I know – I was one of them and used to grumble about everything being from “Toy-Town”, rather than the real world. There may be somethings that are harder to manage – seats on aircraft and buses and trains for example, but many things can be adapted quite simply – like gas lift office chairs and folding walking sticks, as the Mike’s Shed column (as Simon so kindly named it!) has covered in the last two newsletters.
Here are some of the things I have adapted to suit me and an indication of how.
Sofas and arm chairs
Sofas and arm chairs. Add a set of lifting blocks or raisers , a disabled height adjusting frame or new longer legs . These will usually offer you a height raise of upto 4 inches or 100mm safely. There are longer ones but you need to consider weight and safety when using the 4 to 12 inch (100mm to 300mm) replacement legs available. These legs are more robust and may be more suitable for taller, larger, heavier(?) people
Or consider making them yourselves from 100mm x 100mm wood. Sometimes it is safer and more secure to replace the existing legs with longer ones using steel double ended screw dowel and castors or furniture feet, rather than adding a raiser leg or block.
Adjust Bed height. All of the above plus consider fitting as a simpler solution. https://www.castors-online.co.uk/ maybe a specialist industrial/theatrical supplier site, but actually, for years I had under my bed 6 inch/ 150mm lockable castors - much easier to move around and very stable. Buying an extra-long valance covers the castors up.
Bed Length. Most popular portable solution to extend a bed is the Bedstretch. I usually prefer to build or buy my beds extra long (and wide) but not everybody can do that….. On a cruise, Cunard once built a 12 inch extender for the head of the bed to allow me to fit! And at my suggestion, they made it dismantlable, so that they could reuse it quickly for other tall people! Apparently it is a common problem, but they had never considered a reusable solution, but made from scratch when asked…..!
Desk and Table. Interesting issue here is that you have to fit people of different heights around the same table. Generally, the “standard height” for much furniture was based in British Standards defined in the post war rationing period in the late 1940’s, so it is fair to say that they are a little dated. You can often afford to raise a table or desk by 2 or 3 inches without negatively impacting others using it. That is a matter for negotiation. All of the above approaches work, but again, you cans sometimes buy complete longer replacement legs for certain desks and tables, which are more aesthetically pleasing for instance -.
3.Other Options. I use a 2 inch or 4 inch (50mm or 100mm) memory foam/dense foam seat cushion with some chairs. Not only is it more comfortable to sit on, but also raises you a few inches, depending on the rigidity of the foam cushion that you use.
There are lots of simple adaptations that you can make to adjust the world to suit you. Try them or talk to others who have done the same! If you ask suppliers, you will usually get one of two responses –
a. “we’ve never been asked that before – there is no demand”….. Courteously point out that there is (or walk away) as you are the living proof that there is demand and shared TPC experience says it is substantial and worth paying attention to.
b. “Yes, I’m sure we can help you adapt that – this is what others have done” – in which case shout about it and tell others and ask Simon to put them in the Directory of suppliers…..
Tall Kitchens and Bathrooms
Kitchen and Bathroom cabinets. The “standard sizes” defined by the British Standards Institute (BSI) were largely set in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Rationing was still in place and the population had arguably been restrained in height growth by poor nutrition over the preceding years.
One of the victims of this was the standard height for kitchen Counters that was an is set at 900mm, including a lower plinth. Similarly for Bathrooms.
Now considering that statistically, the average height of the population rises by about 20mm every 15 years, the standard height should be set at around 100mm higher to 1000mm! Consider the sizes of the family members and reach an accommodation with everybody.
My kitchen was set at 970mm, and nobody struggles with it…… This was achieved by buying longer legs (or standard legs and wooden riser blocks) and using a cut down facing board to provide a taller plinth. If you are having your kitchen made to measure, especially by German or Dutch companies, you will find that a standard height plinth and a taller cabinet is no surprise to them……. If rebuilding I would probably try and negotiate for 990mm or 1000mm these days!
Some kitchens also have an adjustable height option mostly provided for folk with disabilities or wheelchair users, and some of the kitchen is designed to rise and fall on instruction to a decent working height. These can be more expensive and storage beneath them is not usually available.
Please just forget British Standard Institute doors. The standard 78” or 1981mm height doors (usually in widths of 30”/762mm, 33”/838mm and 36”/915mm) are simply headache material in waiting….. If you have the choice to specify, I’d suggest you look for readily available larger standard sizes like the Dutch minimum of 2300mm high and 850 wide. Going slightly wider does not ruin the balanced “look” of a door, but does allow use of wheelchairs and wider standard access. Place like https://www.todd-doors.co.uk/ carry a good range of larger standard sizes. German and UK commercial door sizes are also larger.
a. Baths - If space allows, buy a larger bath – well worth it! I have a 1800mm spa bath and it is totally worthwhile……! Places like https://www.thewhirlpoolbathshop.com/ provided mine and did a great job adjusting it to my needs. Not everybody can fit such a large bath, so an alternative is a deeper bath, as long as you can fit! Downside – you need a heating system with a large hot water capacity or a Hit Water tank. Even so, it is still worth it. b. Vanity unit heights – see Kitchens section above! c. Basins. You can purchase taller than standard basin and pedestal sets, but I used a 4 inch plinth to raise one of my basins, or designed built in cabinets to fit, set at
Wall Mounted Basins are better
Also wall mounted basins (without a floor pedestal) work well, as seen above when one of our directors who works at a bathroom shop who had one put in at a decent height (rather than the one behind him)
– many on the market to suit all pockets and design styles.
d. Showers. DO NOT under any circumstances allow the plumber to fit your shower at “standard height!” Normally standard height for a plumber is somewhat less than the average population and simply not adequate. Instead mark the height of the base of the shower head on the wall, and if needed stand in the shower/or bathtub to prove it to the doubting individual! I have the lower height of my shower heads all set at 2250mm (as seen above in the picture). Shorter people can fit taller showers, but not the other way around! The water just takes longer to reach them – yes, I know the joke too!
e. Toilets/WCs/Water Closets/Loos/etc… This needs to be a specialist article all on its own! In summary, toilets (pan size and “throat” of the pan should be large enough for the “ahem” larger bottom and “ahem” larger number 2’s. Cheap toilets do not always work and some have weight limits……. In terms of height, you can buy taller toilets, mount a standard size toilet on a plinth, or buy a wall mounted toilet – they usually use a steel frame that can be blocked up and mounter higher on the wall. Obviously, there are compromises to be made for other family members and average sized visitors, but most can sit 50-100mm higher without issue. There are also taller disabled toilets that can be purchased, that have a higher seat for easy sitting and standing.
f. Mirrors. Simply Buy. Taller. Mirrors. Mount them so that all heights can use them. Consider demisting elements behind the mirror, as sometimes there is a great misting at the top of a tall mirror, closer to the ceiling than lower down. Simon Hickman, one of our TPC Directors sells bathroom equipment and is an excellent source of information on all matter’s bathrooms and plumbing!
Generally altering standard riser height is frowned upon for safety reasons; people get used to a standard rise and altering it is considered a trip hazard. Our now sadly departed old tall friend Uwe Seyler from Hamburg had increased the tread size (the step width )of all stairs in his house to accommodate his large feet more easily. I was and am still jealous of that. If I ever do a New Build, guess what feature is definitely in there?!
But the key as always is to emphasise Start to think in terms of adjusting the world to suit your needs, rather than constantly adjusting to a smaller world….