Where to put the microwave

joann23456April 8, 2008

I'm trying to figure out where to put a small microwave when my kitchen is remodeled. I'd also be interested in recommendations for a microwave.

I don't want the microwave under the counter or over the range, I don't want to spend enough to get one of the nifty ones that mounts under an upper, and I don't have a pantry to put it in. I think my options are to put it on a counter (which takes space I'd rather not lose), on a microwave shelf (but I hate the way they stick out), or, if I can find one that's small enough, I could maybe put it in the bottom shelf of an upper cabinet (but then, what do you do about the exposed cabinet sides? Or do you keep the cabinet closed when you're not using it?).

What have you all done that's attractive and functional?

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We have ours in the bottom shelf of an upper cabinet that we made deeper to hold it. (What do you mean about exposed cabinet sides?) We only have doors on the section above the mw, so the microwave is exposed all the time.

In our last house we had a shorter wall cabinet with shelf for the mw underneath that was even with the bottom of the upper cabinet next to it...So it was the same, height-wise, and similar in look to having it in the bottom shelf of a regular upper. The mw did stick out farther than the other uppers (we have a large microwave...2.2 cu ft, so 20" deep), but it didn't bother us...Maybe because it was at the end of the run of uppers.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 12:08PM
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Maybe you can put it on the counter but have it in one of those caddies that you can shut the door so it's hidden. Like this http://www.kraftmaid.com/storage/index.cfm?navigationid=44X00a&harmonyid=281

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 12:10PM
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You can mount a GE JEM31 (or PEM31) in an upper cabinet with a trim kit - it can also be mounted under a cabinet. Not sure what you mean by expensive - MW was around $200 - I forget how much the trim kit cost (~$100+) but it looks really good. Pictures on my home page.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 12:11PM
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Mine is going into the middle of what would otherwise be a floor-to-ceiling cabinet. No doors or anything, so you can see it. You need to have a landing space nearby so you can put the hot soup bowl down quickly.

I was very happy with a Whirlpool MW for several years. The new one will be Panasonic. If budget matters more than matching the name brand appliances, look at Sharp, Panasonic (inverter technology is supposed to be very good), other brands at Best Buy, Costco, etc. I personally couldn't see spending $800 for a Thermador MW just to match a Thermador range.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 12:48PM
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Our is going in a to the counter cabinet we are making 18 inches deep with a flip up hide-away door. So it will be hidden when not in use (a big key for me - microwaves are ugly no matter what you do with them so hiding was our best option) but easily accessable when needed

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 1:04PM
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Wow, thanks for the quick feedback.

Rhome410, about the exposed cabinet sides, I meant that if you got, say, a 30" tall upper cabinet, but got 15" doors and left the bottom shelf exposed, then the front edges of the cabinet that weren't covered by the doors (i.e., where the microwave would be going) would be exposed. I guess it wouldn't make a different with face frame cabinets, but I'm getting frameless.

Weissman, I really like that GEM31. That may be the way to go. I'd love to do the cabinet like bluekitobsessed (love the name), but no room.

Thanks for the input.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 1:54PM
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We have an open cabinet that is deeper than the typical upper cabinet. The mw is on the bottom shelf. I think our mw is be-u-ti-ful and I like having it out and convenient.

We've been very happy with the Panasonic with invertor technology.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 1:55PM
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i always hate looking at the microwave so the challenge is always where to stick it where it's still convenient, but not right in your face.

in our last remodel, we had a pantry, so we did a bank of bottom cabs with a counter and put the micro and toaster oven in there. worked out great.

no pantry in our current set-up. we are building a custom box in the corner of our upper cabinets, if you can picture it. the microwave will go into it's own box so will be spanning the corner on an angle. we worked with our cabinet guy to design a door that will open downward and then can slide in, beneath the microwave, if we want to have it open for a while.

not sure if i'm explaining it well. hard to describe.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 5:55PM
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Joann, to avoid the sticking out problem of a microwave shelf, we borrowed over 3" of additional depth from inside the wall behind where the microwave goes.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 8:35PM
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mustbnuts zone 9 sunset 9

I have an over the counter microwave--or will have once I remodel. I got a sharp. It hangs from the bottom of the upper cab. Since I am getting all new cabs, the one it will hang from will be shorter than the rest so the bottom of the micro is even with the bottoms of the other upper cabinets. Hope that made sense. I too didn't want to have another micro hood combo as I was installing a gas range and was concerned about flare-ups. I too didn't want to lose any of my precious counter space as well.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 10:54PM
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We have had our microwave out on the counter and will continue to do so when the remodel is over. We have a U-shaped kitchen, so we have two corners. We've always placed the microwave diagonally across the corner that is furthest from the work core, a space that otherwise wouldn't have been very useful to us. In our remodel, the work core is actually moving closer to the microwave location.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 12:55AM
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Ours are frameless, too. DH makes ours, so I'm not familiar with ones you'd order or have made, but wouldn't the front edges of the cabinet be finished? I think they would have edge-banding, at least, which would make them look fine without having doors all the way down.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 1:11AM
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Our KD designed an appliance garage with pocket doors that slide into the cabinet on the sides like one of those hotel TV armoires. You can leave them open for convenience, or close them if you have company. We are going with a Panasonic convection microwave that will sit on the upper shelf of the garage. The lower shelf is a rollout for coffee, toaster, etc. There will be AC power inside the garage. Our particular Panasonic is a big fella, so the garage is correspondingly wide and deep to accommodate.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 8:55AM
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I'm in a similar position.

I'm planning something like Bluekit's solution, but my kitchen dresser will have doors. I use the microwave very little. I hate the way things taste when heated in one, but it does use so much less energy, I do a few tasks in it.

I can only add don't make the niche too small: The chances of there being the same exact width and height microwave in 3/7/15 years is virtually nil.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 10:35AM
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We are going to get a Sharp over-the-counter microwave. The microwave is designed to be installed between two cabinets and under a 24-inch wide cabinet. Hope that makes sense. Here is the link to the Sharp website.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sharp over-the-counter microwave

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 12:17PM
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DH uses the MW several times a day, so I wanted ours to be near the fridge and the sink and out of my way! We raised the oven base cabinet so it's a finished 42" high instead of 36" and put the MW on the (33" wide) counter above it with an upper 12" deep cabinet above it for MWable items and some cups. I also wanted the few inches of counter space in front of and next to the MW to rest dishes on when they come out of the MW since they can be pretty hot. This setup is next to the wall to the left of the sink, with 30" of 36" high counter space in between.

This is a great height for the MW, and is very functional for us. However, it's not as attractive as having it built in, but this was once place where function was more important to me. I made a comment to my daughter that it didn't look as good that way, but she said she thought it looked fine. But neither of us is concerned about the WOW factor.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 12:51PM
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oooh oooh [raises hand] I know!

I had EXACT same struggle as you. See if this works for you (see pics). I think its what weismann was suggesting but without a trim kit - if you have some space on top of the microwave for it to "breathe" no need for trim kit, and like it was stated its only $200. There is an outlet in the cab above it - you won't want it directly behind the micro as that will require it stick out further for the plug. Just make sure you get the cabinet with the same finish inside as the outside for that cabinet. If you bring the pictures to your cab person and the dimensions of the micro they should be able to make it work. My cabinet person said they "do that all the time". I thought it would look weird with the spacing around it but the cabinet person assured me it would look great.

Downside is, even though its amazing what you can fit in it, its a small microwave. I LOVE it though. Its at perfect height for me too and doesn't waste as much space as some of the built in micros.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 9:08PM
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Wish someone would invent a microwave that opens the other way. Mine is above the counter and at the end of a peninsula, and would be much better if it opened left to right.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 10:06AM
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I know you said you didn't want it under the counter, but that is what I did. My GC built a little shelf for it out of the existing cabinet and put a pullout underneath. I bought the smallest microwave I could find at Best Buy because I only use it to warm up my coffee and an occasional plate of left overs.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 11:40AM
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