Saturday, May 15, 2021

Life as a hobbit

We love our new home. It has everything we need, but on a smaller scale than our old home. However we've discovered one drawback: It's made for giants.

Tall people don't have it easy fitting into a world made for shorter folks. Here is a photo essay of some of the genuine struggles tall people have with everyday things.

But we have the opposite problem. Don and I are hobbits. We're not exactly three-foot-six (how Tolkien defined the species) but sometimes it seems we're close. I'm 5'2", Don is 5'6", and we've learned step stools are just going to be part and parcel of living here.

Yes, this is one of our best friends.

Consider a few things that are literally beyond my reach in our new home.

The outdoor thermometer. Someone fastened it at least six feet up on the wall. We haven't used this thermometer because neither of us can see it easily. (Yes, we plan to lower it.)

This is the refrigerator that came with the house.

It's a fine refrigerator, but because the freezer is at the bottom, I cannot reach the back of the refrigerator's top shelf. I need the step stool.

Or consider the microwave. Way above my head. Does the rotating tray need cleaning? I have no idea. I haven't climbed the step stool to find out.

In fact, the whole kitchen is a huge challenge.

The upper cabinets are so high that I can only reach the lowest shelves. Therefore almost every cabinet is empty (items are stored in the pantry instead).

Our eventual goal for the kitchen is to remove all the upper cabinets (Don can use them in the shop) and install a shelf, at a convenient reach for me to reach, around the entire perimeter of the kitchen walls above the counter. Just think – it would give us room for artwork on the walls!

As for the wonderful pantry Don built – well, it's perfect. He built it just the right size for halflings. I didn't realize this until some neighbors (husband and wife) came over to visit and we showed them this customized storage space. The husband's head literally brushed the light, and he was by no means excessively tall. But hey, it works for us (though I need the step ladder to reach the highest shelves).

Even the bathroom offers challenges. We have a wonderful shower with a removable shower head – and it's juuuuust beyond my reach. (Don can reach it easily since he's got four inches on me.)

The previous owners left some door hooks inside the bathroom door. The left-hand hooks are too tall for me to reach. I can reach the lower hooks on the right-hand side, but not the upper hooks.

So Don sweetly installed some hooks for clothes at a more convenient level for me.

Last year, we purchased some inexpensive patio furniture we use indoors. It's fine furniture, but even the seats are a little too deep for comfort, so I use a pillow to push me forward whenever I sit.

We had some lovely neighbors back at our old place, and they had an enormous sectional sofa in their living room. During visits, I had to perch on the edge of the sofa, otherwise I'd be almost reclining if I sat back. The husband in this case was 6'7" in height, so those sectionals were perfect for him. Not a good fit for halflings, though.

So that's life as a hobbit – inconvenient at times, but not insurmountably so. And on the whole, I'd rather be a hobbit than a giant.


  1. Ditto for me, step stools everywhere. Some years back we went to a furniture store. On sofas my legs stuck out forward, (like a 5 year old), on stools I had to climb up to get seated, and yes the pillow trick does the job. My husband just got a 1973 F-250 work truck. If I had to drive it I would for sure have to use a pillow. Still I would rather have a Hobbit house if I could. My kids and grandkids are all taller than Don, the boys are 6'+ they all enjoy my struggles when reaching the shelving. In the kitchen I simply just get on the counter to reach the uppermost shelf. I am not a midget but feel like one at 5'1". I always like to say that God is a humorous God, why else do we have the gift of laughter.

  2. Oh yes, the life of a halfling! I'm also 5'2". When I repurposed a shed into a temporary tiny house, I built the sleeping loft side with a 5'5" clearance underneath. The storage loft/kitchen and bathroom side of the shed has a 6'5" clearance underneath. The first time my daughter and grandchildren visited, I walked under the sleeping loft, then my 5'3" daughter and 5'4" granddaughter followed. My 6'1" grandson wasn't paying attention and walked right into the edge of the loft. Forehead, meet 2x12. The poor kid almost knocked himself out. I learned to warn those non-halflings after that!

  3. Drywall stilts

  4. Hmmm. That is something I never really thought about Patrice. I am 5' 8" and based on some of my outside activities consider myself to be short. That said (and good point), life at least in the US is largely scaled for the 5'6" to 6' person.

  5. I'm between you and Don in height so I get it. I have to stand on the edge of the tub to reach our shower head that is like yours. I only do that when I clean or someone comes to visit and changes the shower nozzle. I too have a stoop in the kitchen. I have found that antique furniture is more fitting, made for smaller people before "over stuffed" was a thing. It's also better made.

  6. LOL, the only time in my life I was ‘tall’ was in the 4th grade. I had reached my full adult height of 60”!! Step stools are my best friend, we have multiples, and I’m pretty good at climbing which has served me well. Love the angle that the photos were taken...clever

  7. I'm 5', hubby 5'9" so we have some real problems as he puts things UP where he can easily reach and I can't. Solution to the shower head - buy a shower head holder - ours works great and I can reach it. I can only reach to the front of the 2nd shelf in the kitchen so I store seldom used items there or my preference is to leave them empty and use the pantry. I think we have the same refrig - hubby has the top 2 shelves and I have no idea what is on them (and really don't care as I don't eat that stuff). And, yes, step stools and one-step stools and grabbers are a way of life,

  8. At 5'3" I can't "reach" either. I bought fold open 1-step stools and slide 1 along refrigerator wall. Great for reaching up in kitchen cabinets too. There is 1 in the closet and 1 in my SUV (some older friends need a small boost in!) Pick them up at many stores for not much money. Sure helps me out.

  9. Our little farm house was set up for smaller people, and we are not. The two tallest rooms in the house, are the bathrooms, which is where I have to do my workouts. Of course, our house is about 130 years old...built when folks were shorter! Not complaining in the least, as I truly love our cozy little spot on earth!

  10. If you hear "Fe Fi Fo Fum", RUN!

    Love you blog.

  11. A prepper with empty cabinets? I've heard of 'the new normal' but this is too much to grasp...
    Montana Guy

  12. In these parts, my wife - who stands 5'4", calls for "crane duty". That is where Adult son or husband about 6' fetch down or put away that which has an altitude challenge. Our ceilings are a bit under 8 feet and feeeeel a bit short for me. All that said, we have a regularly employed step ladder with shelf at the ready -> lightbulb changing/fixture cleaning, a couple of clocks high on the walls that need to be adjusted twice a year (GRRRRrrrrr...) and fiddlybit wiring that I attempt to hide high up on cabinet/shelf tops.

  13. In these parts, my wife - who stands 5'4", calls for "crane duty". That is where Adult son or husband about 6' fetch down or put away that which has an altitude challenge. Our ceilings are a bit under 8 feet and feeeeel a bit short for me. All that said, we have a regularly employed step ladder with shelf at the ready -> lightbulb changing/fixture cleaning, a couple of clocks high on the walls that need to be adjusted twice a year (GRRRRrrrrr...) and fiddlybit wiring that I attempt to hide high up on cabinet/shelf tops.

  14. When we had to replace our refrigerator, we got a counter depth and love it. Granted it holds less, but I can reach everything and waste less food! Of course, it costs more, but worth every penny. Since we have a cheaper extra frig in the garage, this is perfect for our kitchen and doesn't interfere with the cabinets like the old one did!

  15. When I worked at a military commissary, and the place was drawing down before being closed, the store ordered in these plastic pieces to "cut" the amount of space behind items such as cans so that the shelves looked full with fewer items on them. I can't find anything like them online right off, but basically they were about 3" high and about half the depth of the shelves going back. This may sound crazy, but I wonder if something like that might be helpful to you if the cabinets have fairly tall interior heights - anything that you would use more often could go in front of the "divider", and you wouldn't have to worry about them floating to the back, and things that you don't use very often could be put on the raised area.

    Katja, missing N Idaho much

  16. Being shorter than normal (4'-10 1/2") it's a laugh to see 5'2" called short (not meant in a mean way either). That's 1 1/2 taller than 3 generations of women in my family. Clothes are my bane, hard to find something suitable for a well-over-50 yro woman in the kids department...So when I find good jeans I tend to pick up quite a few pairs (will last me years and years). A stepstool is my best friend in the kitchen and pantry since I can't reach the back of the 2nd shelf and have to get up on the counters to reach the tops of the cabinets. It's never stopped me (like a lot of you) from doing whatever the big people do. A 5-gallon bucket turned upside down for the barns or pounding fence posts is my go-to. A foam wedge so I can safely drive my truck. Long live us shorties!

  17. At the major hardware stores they sell an extender for shower heads that are high up. I am 5ft 2 the shower head in my new house was for someone at least 5'8. The extended has an elbow to it so you can adjust the angle as well.

  18. Our youngest son is 6’8”. Clothing is astronomically priced. So are the size 15eeee shoes. When he graduated I realized how much he did for me that enabled me to not use a step stool such as cleaning the top of the refrigerator which he could easily see, and shopping and getting items from the back of enclosed cases or top shelves. He put away and retrieved seldom used dishes in the upper cabinets. It’s actually not fun being tall. He had to carefully enter rooms, and fitting in vehicles could be challenging. We already knew he didn’t fit into showers in most rvs so when he was 15 we bought an old motor home that had a full bath. Still, He could barely squat low enough to get under the shower head so a handheld one was installed. He can seldom shut the stall door in any public bathroom.
    My mom was 4’11”. The folding step stool was a part of life. Dad was 6’4” and I am 5’5”. Life is definitely easier if you are right handed and not too short or tall.