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Dalek Stools - The Perfect Kitchen Solution for Small People

Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.

Dalek Stool stowed away under the worktop in our kitchen

Dalek Stool stowed away under the worktop in our kitchen

Rolling Step Stool - AKA Dalek

Rolling Step Stool for easy and safe step up to high places around the home.

Step up With a Dalek Step Stool

The Perfect Kitchen Solution for Short People

We're only a little shorter than average, just a few inches, but those few inches makes a world of difference in a kitchen when trying to reach something from the top shelf in kitchen wall cupboards; compounded by having full height wall units in our kitchen to maximise on storage space. So I wonder how short people manage; especially people shorter than us.

None of my ancestors were tall but I can't remember my grandmother struggling to reach things from the top shelf; but then again it was in the days before fitted kitchens. In those days it was the cupboard under the sink, a larder, pantry in some houses, and floor standing furniture such as sideboards or a small table in the corner to put things on.

Kitchen Wall Units Full Height and Hard to Reach for the Smaller person

Space Saver and Maximise on Storage Space

Not one who likes wasting space and always looking for ways to maximise on useable space when I renovated the kitchen a few years ago installing full height wall units (rather than the standard wall units) was the natural option.

Standard kitchen wall units always leaves a large gap at the top between wall unit and ceiling, which often gets used as an informal shelf for storing saucepans, frying pans and lots of kitchen junk that never gets used. By fitting full size kitchen wall units that reach right to the ceiling loses this informal shelf space above the wall units but increases the storage space of the wall units by 50%. I know the gain of additional storage space in the wall units is equal to the loss of storage space above the wall units.

As well as being tidier by having things stored out of sight inside cupboards rather than on show on top of the cupboards, incorporating this space to within the cupboards does provide more storage space for food products; albeit you then have to find a new home for all your saucepans and frying pans, that new home being a base unit where saucepans are more accessible. And by utilising space in this way it does encourage a more efficient use of the kitchen in that all that junk that would normally find a home above the wall units, to be never used again, is more likely to be weeded out and thrown away.

However, having full height kitchen wall units can be challenging for shorter people; when no one can reach the top shelves without standing on something. I can reach the middle shelves in our kitchen but my wife can only reach the bottom ones.

Therefore we've organised the kitchen so that everything that is used daily is either stored on the bottom shelves or in an easily accessible base unit. The food items weekly is stored on the middle shelves and items used less frequently, often monthly, are stored on the top shelf; with items used infrequently being shoved in the less assessable base units e.g. the corner base units.

The Dalek Stool

The Ultimate Solution

So a few years ago (just after we renovated our kitchen) I managed to salvage an office step stool that was being disposed of; seeing its potential for use in the kitchen. Although it’s not as convenient to sit on as a step stool, and perhaps it’s not as aesthetic, its ease of use won us over immediately; with our old step stool quickly being assigned to the garden shed and eventually finding a new owner when we gave it away to a home in need.

We fell in love with the office step stool, which we affectionately call the Dalek. When not in use it sits quite happily under the work service keeping the waste bin company, and when needed just rolls out on casters at a moment’s notice, easier and quicker to use than step stools; saving valuable energy and seconds. And it’s just the right height so that even the smallest household member doesn’t have to stretch to reach the top shelves.

The Dalek Stool

The Dalek Stool

Rolling (Dalek) Step Stools

Dalek Stools for Your Kitchen and Home

These are the step stools that are the subject of this review article. They’re all solid steel construction with the usual retractable wheels that automatically retract under your weight to provide stability, and rubber bumpers to prevent any damage to your furniture. Some models are available in a variety of colours so you can choose the one that best suits your décor and others are a choice of just one colour.

They can be used anywhere around the home or office, as we do but where we find our step stool most useful is in the kitchen to reach the tops of tall cupboards. They’re lightweight and easy to carry around to where needed, making them most convenient, in fact I find they’re easier to cart around to where needed and use than conventional step stools; and when not in use conveniently sits under a table or quietly in a corner.

When choosing a model I think the most important consideration is the weight capacity; some, as you will see below have a capacity of 300 lbs. and others 500 lbs. The ones with the higher weight capacity are not any more expensive so unless you have any other reasons I would suggest and recommend choosing a model with the higher 500 lbs. captivity.

Conventional Solutions to Reaching High Places

Step Stools and Small Steps

Previously we used the conventional solution of a step stool; which we used for years and found invaluable. With the bonus that they double up as a kitchen stool, and can look quite respectable.

Although for a period, when one step stool broke and before we got a new one, we resulted to using a small step ladder; which is now assigned to the garden shed for DIY use. Step ladders work equally as well as step stools except for the slight delay in pulling the steps out for use, and not being able to use it as a stool.

Also, a small step ladder isn't as aesthetic as a step stool; although its main advantage is being able to fold it away and discreetly store it in any small available gap or corner in the kitchen; whereas step stools need to find a home under a kitchen worktop, or somewhere out of the way, where you're not going to be constantly bumping into and tripping over it.

Step stool we used in our kitchen for a while, before getting the dalek step stool.

Step stool we used in our kitchen for a while, before getting the dalek step stool.

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Other Space Saving Ideas in the Kitchen

Better Utilising Kitchen Space

Being one who likes to maximise on space whenever possible when building our new kitchen rather than fitting the usual mouldings to the underside of the wall units (often to conceal lighting) I opted to use the space instead for cup hooks.

It didn’t cost much, just the price of a bit of skirting board and some cup hooks; and wasn’t difficult to make or fix. All I did to make this under kitchen wall units’ cup rack was:-

  1. Measure and cut 75mm (3 inch) skirting board to the right length.
  2. Applied two coats of oak finish yacht varnish to match the colour of our oak wall units.
  3. Screw in cup hooks at regular intervals, about 50mm (2 inches) from the edge that would be against the wall; just under 150mm apart (just under 6 inches).
  4. Screw and glue the cup hook rack at the back, against the wall, underneath the length of the kitchen wall units.
Kitchen cup hook rack

Kitchen cup hook rack

Do You Use a Dalek or Step Stool?

Are you tall enough or do you need a lift up to reach things in your kitchen.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Arthur Russ

How do you utilise the space in your kitchen and access high shelves - Your Tips and Views

Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 15, 2017:

Thanks for all your feedback and comments. We find the dalek stool so useful we've got one in the kitchen for downstairs and one in our bedroom for use upstairs.

Kiyoe on February 05, 2015:

I luv the moody & higher crstoant elements that deeper toned spaces bring. I personally find them far more interesting. Even in a kitchen, I find that holds true, if not even truer yet. I do have a flip side that also luvs the purity & airiness that a white kitchen brings. However I also still want a deep toned shot present in them (either in floors or counters or walls). Once again more interesting than all white & a bit less sterile or cold in feel.The house we're in now couldn't pull off a dark kitchen as it sits in the northeast corner of the structure. But you better believe if I ever have a light filled kitchen, it'll be all moody & cozy!

Johnd496 on September 28, 2014:

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Frischy from Kentucky, USA on March 12, 2013:

I like your Dalek stool! We use those in the library at school. They are handy for me in reaching low shelves, because I have difficulty with bending. So when working on low shelves, I can sit on the stool. It might be awkward for having conversation, and too low to serve as a spare chair at the dining table, but perfect when you need to work on something low.

Tony Bonura from Tickfaw, Louisiana on November 24, 2012:

I use the step stool when needed. I don't want to break anything and have to go to the store just so I can replace something and then cook.


anonymous on November 11, 2012:

When my tippy toes fail, I have to get a stool to step up on.

MintySea on November 10, 2012:

I am short I have step stool but not one that looks like a Dalek

MintySea on November 10, 2012:

I am short I have step stool but not one that looks like a Dalek

emily potts on October 24, 2012:

As a short person (5'2"), I have always had a step stool handy in the kitchen. I'd be lost without it!

emily potts on October 24, 2012:

As a short person (5'2"), I have always had a step stool handy in the kitchen. I'd be lost without it!

Sharon Bellissimo from Toronto, Canada on October 23, 2012:

I am tall, so I can reach the higher shelves at home. But generally speaking we store the most commonly used items on the lower shelves so anyone can reach them.

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