We are often asked the question, 'What is standard?' in relation to many things, especially in reference to cabinetry and lighting. The answer we give is sometimes disappointing to clients looking for an unequivocal response. However, in a truly custom home we are not looking for answers that meet a large resale market demand, we are looking for solutions specific to an individual client.
Various sources are available to give standards, including the often referenced Architect's tome of Architectural Graphic Standards. However, we will often challenge our clients to research what works for them by measuring a comfortable counter height, their actual library books, or their favorite chair. We'll use standards, along with client information to make a reasonable conclusion that works well for their unique situation.
However, for those that are looking for a starting point, the following may prove helpful:
Desk and Table height: 29-30" A.F.F. (Above finish floor); Desk depth: 30"
Bookshelf spacing: no less than 11" tall, unless you collect paperbacks, no less than 13-14" deep (I find 14" works for nearly any reasonable item, both books and items to be displayed.) I will sometimes include a very narrow shelf spacing at about 36-44" which allows really large coffee table books to be displayed on their side, which also breaking up the repetition of a very large bookcase. If you plan to vary the shelf heights, start larger at the bottom and decrease as you go up.
Counter top height: 36" A.F.F.; Cabinet depth: No less than 24" (Kitchen cabinetry is one where sticking to standard sizes allows for the most flexibility with appliances and cabinet options- however, for a truly custom kitchen these dimensions can vary). For a low section of counter for baking prep we will often set the counter between 30-32" which allows easier use of a rolling pin for most people.
Bottom of upper cabinets: 18-22" Above counter. Here is where things get tricky- 18" is the 'standard' but if you are tall enough, the final location of the upper cabinets can move higher.
Wall sconces: 60-66" A.F.F. (Adjust higher for sconces with large projections or larger rooms)
Bed Reading Lights: 44-48" A.F.F. (Leaving enough room for a nighstand 28-30" tall, and an outlet for phone charging at 36" A.F.F.) Adjust the reading lamps for the bed you intend to use- there is a large variation here.
Dining Room Chandelier: 30-36" Above the table (60-66" A.F.F. with a 30" tall table)
Stair sconces: 80-84" of the line of nosings. This one is tricky and dependent on your light selection, its projection from the wall and the design of the stairs. Higher is better so you don't create a head knocker.