Kitchen Remodel

Design Watch: Microwaves Don’t Need to be an Eyesore

An initial design for a kitchen remodel often focuses solely on the sink, range, and refrigerator. Microwave placement in kitchen designs can often be an afterthought. While it shouldn’t take precedence over those major components, it does need some early consideration.

Today, most kitchens have microwaves, but they are usually used for reheating or defrosting only. Since kitchens are primarily for cooking (not reheating), the best option for your over-the-range space is a hood, vented to the exterior. A hood allows for more room around the range, features an open backsplash, and captures more smoke, steam, and grease. Even if you cannot vent to the outside, a hood is still a preferred space option both functionally and aesthetically.

When comparing microwave options, look for the smallest one you can get by with, with a turntable for even heating. There are three main types of microwaves: 

  • Countertop
  • Over-the-range (more on this later)
  • Built-in. 

These vary in cost, in that order, with additional installation costs for the last two.

Let’s examine a countertop-style microwave’s specific benefits and features and discuss a few methods for optimal microwave placement.


Microwave Placement in Kitchens: Three Strategic Solutions

Microwave Placement Option #1: Below The Counter

An increasingly popular microwave location is below the counter, putting a countertop microwave into a finished opening. Customized cabinetry accommodates various sizes and is flexible enough when the microwave needs replacing. To keep your kitchen design sleek, we can even make this look almost like a built-in.

Built-in microwave with white cabinets.
A drawer above and below, with a matching piece of trim framing the microwave.

Microwaves fitted below the counter save counter and cabinet space, adding to a clean kitchen aesthetic. 

Microwave Placement Option # 2: Above The Counter

If you want microwave placement ideas that aren’t below the counter but are still out of sight, consider a tilt-up (or top hinge) wall cabinet. With a fairly compact microwave and slightly deeper cabinet, the right door type can stay open while in use without being in the way like a hinged door would be. 

Modern white kitchen with stainless stell range and silver pulls on cabinets
Cabinets to the left and right of the stove hood open vertically for full access to any type of microwave.

This approach is typically used in modern kitchen designs but can also work in traditional styles. 

Microwave Placement Option #3: On The Counter

When planning a kitchen remodel, most homeowners strive to gain as much counter space as possible, even though there are areas in the kitchen that’ll likely see little use and merely collect clutter (ex: near doorways, walkways, or in corners). In these places, a countertop microwave may be a reasonable option. 

small half-pint orange microwave in corner on kitchen counter

This stylish, sleek, and fully functioning “half-pint” microwave is an ideal option for easy access and adding a pop of personality to a cramped kitchen.

You could even try a smaller model with an exciting, unique design, such as the one pictured above.

Avoid This Microwave Placement in Kitchen

No matter what aesthetic you want, a microwave should never go above the range. Placing your microwave over the range can decrease your home’s air quality.

Good air quality is critical for the health and well-being of all who live there, as discussed in our article “Remodel an Environmentally Friendly House: HVAC Edition.” 

Invest in a Kitchen Remodel for Your Household

Kitchen remodels require variables and choices, down to something as seemingly simple as microwave placement. Luckily, the passionate and experienced Bluestem team helps you sort through your options. The result is a transformed space that meets your home’s individual needs and preferences. Want more microwave placement ideas and inspirational photos? Visit Bluestem’s portfolio.

Are you looking for tips to have a better remodeling experience? Sign up for our free Homeowners Guide to Successful Remodeling!

kitchen island with custom built in cabinetry and storage, including microwave space