Finding the Best Location For Your Microwave

Oh, the microwave! Since the early 1970s (or 1980s, if you grew up in my home) most homes had a microwave that many parents grew to love. Known for its speedy cooking and zapping ability to quickly reheat within its small size, most busy homes today still love their microwave. Since that invention, kitchen design quickly adapted to feature a location for this beloved little appliance.
Shown here is the over-the-range microwave application. It is probably the most common location for a microwave that can also function as a hood, whether it’s vented out or able to recirculate like the one pictured.

This option is probably my least favorite in a design yet it’s what I see most in homes. My design reasons for searching out new locations for the microwave is because, in this design application, it creates a tight zone when cooking.
The venting system (no matter if it’s vented or recirculating) doesn’t work that well for an active home cook. Also, when you are done re-heating in this microwave, the action of pulling out a steaming bowl of soup towards your face isn’t the best idea. In small spaces, however, the micro hood location does work best, and that’s what’s fun about kitchen design: we have options!
Creating a built-in space for your microwave under the countertop keeps the unit out of sight. It’s also more user-friendly than people expect, especially when they allow themselves to be open to a location that may differ from what they had grown accustomed to.

Note: This location may not work best for families with children under 5 years old due to the temptation of wanting to play with the microwave. As a designer, it’s important for me to find out how each family functions and design appropriately for them.
Another great design option is housing the microwave in a separate upper cabinet, allowing for some landing countertop space. It’s similar to the micro hood application but without a venting system. This placement also allows the cooking area to become more of a focal point.

You may have seen a common location for the microwave when it’s housed in a tall cabinetry unit that may also have a separate oven. This design is great when you want to achieve more cooking units in your kitchen design without taking up too much floor or counter space.

And for some clients who want to hide their microwave all together, creating a custom pantry with doors that open to expose the microwave may be the best design. This works out great for my clients who don’t use their microwave often and don’t want to see it daily.

Where is your microwave in your kitchen and do you find that place to be functional?

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timothy dahl profile Finding the Best Location For Your Microwave

Timothy Dahl

Founder/EIC at Charles & Hudson
Timothy’s background includes stints at This Old House, ELLE DECOR, Metropolitan Home and Woman’s Day. His work has been published on Wired Design, Bob Vila, DIY Network, The Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics and he has been featured on the Martha Stewart radio show and as a speaker at the ALT Design Summit, K/BIS and the National Hardware Show.