Posted in Microwave Placement, Noteworthy Links, Sharp Microwave Drawers

Microwaves: Where do you put them?

Over at Apartment Therapy , they ran a survey: Where do you hide your microwave?
One homeowner submitted this photograph as their solution as to where to hide the microwave. From observing the pictures of this kitchen and reading the article, this was a new and fairly large kitchen remodel designed with new and expensive inset door cabinetry. Surely there was a better alternative they could have allowed for this new kitchen. Poor planning in my opinion, really.

Unless you are extremely tall, this is the worst place ever to house a microwave. Or perhaps you are merging households and need a place to store the spare, placing your microwave over the refrigerator is the most dangerous place for it and an accident waiting to happen. With refrigerators that are 66″ or 72″ tall, this poses a danger in the worst way pulling a hot dish or boiling hot mug out of a microwave and above the user’s head. This is not to say you can’t get hurt with a microwave on a counter, you can. But why add to the danger by adding height as a factor?

I have a different question: Why hide the microwave? After all, this is a kitchen. And the bottom line in a kitchen should be about convenience and efficiency. Ease of use and safety should be driving factors behind a design. If you have to conceal it because you need the kitchen to blend in as part of the living space, that’s fine too, just pay attention to safety. Watch the video below to see how dangerous a microwave can be to the unknowing user. Make sure everyone in your family that uses a microwave knows how to use it properly.

Dangers of microwaves

No matter what you use your microwave for, it’s important you exercise caution to avoid burns and the risk of fire. Click the link below this photo for the true dangers of a microwave.

More to microwaves
More to microwaves

It is true many of us have small kitchens and need a solution to free up valuable counter space. Here are some alternatives for microwave placement:

Consider a microwave below the counter top.

Or place it right out there on the counter top. Make your appliances the theme of the kitchen as shown here. This busy kitchen has microwaves doubled up. One on the counter with another on a shelf right above, both at convenient heights.

Build it into the cabinetry. This microwave is a drawer. Very good height for children or people with mobility challenges.

Or in this family friendly kitchen, the microwave is built into the middle of a tall pantry cabinet with a pull out shelf below it for a landing space for hot food. It is at a height that most everyone can reach.

Can’t spare base cabinet or counter space? Consider lower wall placement of your microwave as shown here.
Appliance garages can tuck away small counter top microwaves. Although doors must remain open while in use. I prefer pocket doors for this reason. The depth of the microwave should be planned carefully first to make sure it will work with the depth of the cabinet. Most wall cabinets are 12″ deep and can be special ordered at 14″ deep.

This is a creative use for hiding away your appliances if you must. Notice the door is pocket style, concealing the toaster oven and microwave. Although I think this microwave is still a little too high up. It could have been built lower and yet still room for the toaster.

Here is another creative way of placing a microwave within reach. When in use the pocket doors are open. See picture below for pocket doors in closed position.

Here it is, concealed behind pocket doors. The drawback of pocket doors is they take away usable storage width. Plan in advance that your microwave or small appliance will fit within the usable space.


Laurie Burke, connected to the design and construction industry since 1996. A seasoned residential kitchen and bath design specialist , Laurie has designed thousands of kitchens & baths as well as other cabinetry projects requiring technical precision in design drafting utilizing state of the art 2020 software for creating accurate plans and elevations. Through on- going product knowledge training and a desire to always stay current with an evolving marketplace, Laurie Burke maintains a strong command of knowing the appropriate Fit & Finish materials required for a residential remodel to meet the budget, the timeline of a project and a client's need for a finished product that meets their satisfaction. Kitchen Designer by trade, foodie, techie, weekend traveler for fun. For more information contact me at

4 thoughts on “Microwaves: Where do you put them?

  1. yikes! that one on top of the refrigerator is a hazard! I just heard about the microwave drawers and I have to say they seem genius. but perhaps cleaning them is a hassle? but i do like the idea of keeping the microwave close to the refrigerator, i think grouping those two make sense.


  2. I agree with you. Convenience from a freezer to microwave is always a a good plan. The microwave drawers are very easy to maintain and wipe clean. The newer ones have a pull open technology that allows the unit to glide open and close with ease.


  3. What’s wrong with installing it over the range when space is tight? I have a galley kitchen and I need all low storage space and all the counter space I can get. Sure, I sacrifice a stylish hood but that’s a trade-off I am willing to make.


  4. If you have to have a microwave installed over the range for the sake of reclaiming space elsewhere, then sure, an OTC microwave is the way to go. On the other hand, some people prefer to have a vent hood because the ventilation from a microwave/vent is not powerful enough to handle pro style cook tops and ranges with high BTU outputs. If you have a standard 30″ range and do not do a lot of heavy duty frying, the standard microwave should be fine.


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