You can shelve three types of microwaves—built-in microwaves, OTR microwaves (overhead stove shelf where the range hood would normally be located), and removable countertop freestanding microwaves. In regards to shelving ideas, you can go about it by placement and by methods.
So when talking about 7 microwave shelf ideas, the first order of business should include
What are the Different Types of Microwaves for Shelf Placement?
You don’t necessarily need to remodel your kitchen in order to place a microwave in it. Most microwaves fit excellently on your counter space.
The three types of microwaves relevant to shelves or shelving include the following.
- Freestanding Countertop: Most microwaves belong to this category. You can place such microwaves anywhere since you don’t need to install them into the walls or atop stove gas ranges. These microwaves come with either a turntable or a flatbed design.
- Built-In: A built-in microwave lacks the “body” or “shell” cover on its interior because the cabinet or shelf you place it on should serve as its outer covering. When buying a built-in, make sure your shelf or cabinet should have three inches of space up top and the sides.
- Over-the-Range: The over-the-range or OTR microwave offers a design similar to a range hood vent because it’s supposed to double as one when placed over your gas range or stovetop. It should also have a venting fan rated at least 300 CFM (cubic feet per minute).
You may also like this: What are the Best Places to Put the Microwave in Your Kitchen?
7 Microwave Shelf Ideas You Can Try Out
In regards to the 7 microwave shelf or shelving ideas you can try out, here are our best picks.
1. Making an Over the Range Shelf
The classic choice. This space-saving shelf choice assists in giving smaller kitchens more space maximization per square meter, particularly the underutilized overhead space you usually place shelves on. You can cleanly tuck or store away your microwave in this specific space.
When using this space, the OTR microwave does double duty as a hood vent and might include a duct that leads outside for ventilation. It might require the same mounting apparatus and shelving as the original hood vent.
2. Built Right into Your Cabinets with a Trim Kit
Shelves typically come with cabinetry space. Take advantage of such spaces by placing a small microwave there or taking off the cabinet doors in order to incorporate the deep cabinet space for a built-in microwave altogether. Specifically, avail of a built-in microwave with a trim kit for best results.
You can place such bodiless microwaves on the lower or upper cabinet as well as a tight shelf that could double as a cabinet if it had doors on it. The kit includes a metal ring that fills in the space cap between the cabinet and microwave for a tighter and cleaner fit.
3. Hidden Right Inside the Cabinet Shelf
You can hide your microwave completely by putting it inside the cabinet. A built-in could have extra space on the front to allow for cabinet doors to close on its front panel. After all, we understand that some folks wish for their microwave to be hidden away when not in use or if seldom used.
It can be tucked inside the pantry or cupboards if you so wish. The correct model—a petite one—should have enough space for itself and the plug for it to get powered on. You could even hire an electrician to put the plug where it needs to go or hardwire the microwave altogether like a doorbell.
4. Hidden Right Inside the Drawer Shelf
Instead of doing extensive cabinetry or home improvement work where you customize a drawer for a freestanding microwave, you can instead buy a built-in drawer microwave. Drawer-style built-ins exist in order to allow you to slide the microwave in and out as needed like a dishwasher.
For this reason, most homeowners place their drawer microwaves—which measure from 24 inches to 30 inches wide—below the counter or the waist, among the lower cabinets or island. It could be slid open like your typical dishwashing machine so you can put your food in for microwaving.
These machines cost a pretty penny but they’re usually worth the price for their utility.
5. Placement on the Upper Shelf
The placement of a smaller microwave on your upper shelf allows you to use multiple microwave types—the built-in variety and your standard freestanding countertop variety of microwave. You can tuck it into the upper shelf or cabinet as part of your shelving scheme.
Additionally, you can get a microwave that protrudes out a little further with a standard-oven dropdown door design or a compact unit with a swing-out door design of a bigger microwave. Get the measurements of your shelf and plan ahead before making the purchase.
6. Placement on the Lower Shelf
As usual, extra planning will keep you from needing major shelf remodeling to allow your microwave to sit comfortably on your upper shelf. You also need enough depth for both the microwave and its plug. However, lower shelf placement offers key differences to its upper shelf counterpart.
You should try squatting to see how comfortable, practical, or ergonomic the placement gets. The microwave should also be about as convenient as a dishwasher machine that you typically place on the lower shelf or somewhere below the countertop and adult waist height.
7. In Combination with the Wall Oven
Sometimes the best shelf idea is not using any shelves. Stack your microwave on the wall oven as a way to streamline the look of your kitchen while at the same time ensuring you’ve saved all that precious space for your meal prep needs.
A wall oven to microwave combo also puts the device at an easy-to-use height. No need to get a footstool or to kneel down in order to reheat your leftovers or slow defrost your meats. You can also get a wall-mounted built-in convection microwave oven that doubles as a traditional oven if you wish.
Further reading this post to know how to place microwave in the tiny kitchen.
Over the Horizon
For many homeowners out there, the kitchen serves as one of the best places to relax, unwind, and make comfort food that when eaten feels like a warm embrace of children to parents or vice-versa. You can even experiment by trying out new recipes there.
Regardless, in terms of microwave shelf ideas, you should pay attention to where you place the microwave, what the shelf is made of, what its design offers, the measurements to make way for space, and the type of microwave you’re placing on the shelf.
- Rebecca West, “Seven places to put your microwave (that aren’t on the counter)“, HappyStartsatHome.com, Retrieved September 1, 2021