Microwaves are big. Kitchens are small, especially in this economy and how much of a wealth disparity there is with Baby Boomers versus Millennials and Gen Z. Therefore, it’s only practical to find a way to make your microwave fit in a tiny kitchen without remodeling it all together. Homes can go microwave-free and depend on their stove. However, there are ways to make a microwave fit inside the tiniest of kitchens and apartments.
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You’d be surprised with the myriad of places inside your tiny kitchen that you can place your microwave.
Where to Put a Microwave in a Tiny Kitchen?
Here are the places you can put your microwave in if your kitchen is tiny and you can’t afford to put up a new metal table from IKEA to keep it above waist level for regular usage.
1. Over The Range (Microwaves):
If you have a smaller kitchen, you can place the microwave over the range. This is the classic choice among homemakers since the dawn of microwaves. You can tuck your machine in a neat fashion over your stove. This way, your oven doubles as a hood vent for your stove. Microwaves that are over-the-range (OTR) allow you to save space and maximize the space occupied by your range. However, they don’t vent as well as a standard microwave with a standalone hood.
The ventilation problem might keep your OTR from being the most ideal option for your space-saving endeavors. However, they’re still designed to be much more compact than a standalone hood microwave. The space that the OTR microwave takes up is mostly atop your stove or the unused space. However, it’s difficult to get special tile featured above your gas-range stove with the OTR there. Regardless, it’s a viable option, particularly if you have a smaller kitchen.
2. Built-In with a Trim Kit:
Whether you’re using a lower or upper cabinet, it’s possible to make your microwave appear more built-in using a trim kit. Adding this kit gives your device a substantial look, as it belongs in the space you’ve put it in instead of appearing like something wedged in that juts out like a sore thumb. Design-wise, you want your microwave to appear as it belongs to that cabinet.
This built-in look is achievable by simply adding a matching metal ring that spreads through the space gap between the cabinet and the microwave. In other words, it makes for a better fit when push comes to shove. It’s something that adds an aesthetic nicety to the whole microwave presentation, thus helping the area become easier to clean and neater to look at.
3. Below the Counter:
Instead of cabinets, you can also place your microwave below the counter as long as you have a way to place the plug to an electrical socket and it’s not near the sink or any water. The space usually reserved for your pots and pans could also be used for your microwave in case your kitchen is too small to accommodate an extra table.
Instead of placing a lower drawer on your microwave cabinet, you can replace it with a microwave cabinet. This leaves your sightline perfectly open and your counter clear. This is even truer when it’s paired up with upper shelving for good measure. In terms of downsides, moving dishes in and out of the microwave can be difficult if it’s placed too low. You might need a small stool as a seat to do some microwaving!
4. Wall Oven Combo:
A wall oven exists in order to help save space by placing the device right inside your kitchen walls. If you have a wall oven installed, you can place your microwave in combination with it. Just make sure it fits. Stacking your microwave with a wall oven is better than stacking it vertically below on top of a conventional electric oven to save table space because of toppling concerns. It might even look streamlined when placed there.
Since it’s a wall oven, you should end up placing your microwave at a height that’s usable and ergonomic for your back or spine. Please remember that there are microwave units that are available as microwave and electrical oven combos. They’re oftentimes convection-style microwaves to boot. You can also install a wall oven with a separate microwave oven using a trim kit.
5. Inside a Drawer:
If you can make a drawer microwave installation then that’s even better. There are drawer-style microwaves available that are 24 inches to 30 inches wide in case you require exact measurements. They install in a discreet fashion in your island or lower cabinets. Because they’re drawers, you can draw them out and store them in with a simple push and pull action. They’re aesthetically sleek.
It’s a microwave you can slide open then put away after use. You can use them as normal and they’re designed to cook without concerns about overheating and ventilation issues. Just keep in mind that they’re not exactly cheap. Among the other microwave style types, including wall microwaves and OTR microwaves, they’re among the more expensive ones out there.
6. Hidden Inside a Cabinet:
Like with the drawer option, the microwave-hidden-inside-the-cabinet option allows you to access your microwave only when you really need it. It might not be as easy-access as a microwave that’s out in the open but it is handy to be able to store your microwave away for protection when it’s not needed. You can tuck away your oven inside one of your cupboards, on your pantry, or any place where your cabinet is at.
Integrate the microwave with your cabinetry. Like with your television, some would rather only want to see their microwave oven when they need to use it. Most people only use it to heat their cup of water in a minute anyway. Make sure you’ve bought a cabinet-sized oven and place it inside the cabinet for the sake of safety and storage. Just make sure your electrician can assist you when it comes to plugging it into the nearest wall socket.
7. Integrated Into Cabinetry:
Minimal remodeling might be in order if you didn’t think this through in advance when you had the kitchen made. You can customize the height of the cabinet to better accommodate your microwave oven instead of finding an oven that can fit inside your cabinet or even drawer. Integrating your microwave into cabinetry allows you to have a wider range of microwave sizes to work with.
What’s more, you can also dictate the height and how reachable the microwave is when you need it. This way, you won’t have to end down or reach up in order to use the microwave. However, if the unit is placed too far from your counter, there’s a risk involved when holding a heated plate and having nowhere to place your food. Your integrated microwave cabinet should also be built with counters or tables in mind for easy food placement.
8. On an Upper Shelf:
You can also place your microwave on an upper shelf. You can tuck it into shelves to save space as part of your kitchen’s upper cabinets. Depending on the model of the oven, your microwave might jut out or protrude a little over the upper cabinet’s shelf. Make sure it’s just a little protrusion or jutting instead of a lot since you don’t want your microwave to fall from its perch or anything.
Otherwise, you may want to plan ahead in order to get a longer shelf (to avoid remodeling your tiny kitchen) or the right-sized microwave. Also, make sure that your electrician installs the needed outlets on the wall near the unit. It should be placed in the space where you’ll place the oven with cable management in mind. The microwave will also need enough deepness for both its body and its plug or wire at its back or spine.
9. On the Lower Shelf:
You also have the option to put the microwave on the lower shelf. The main detriment to this is you having to bend down in order to access the device. It’s better to have a lower shelf that’s within chest or waist level so that no bending is required. However, most of the lower cabinets out there aren’t placed that way. Also, watch out for wasted space behind the device if they’re not 24-inches deep.
You can avoid losing storage space by placing it on a shelf at the end of an aisle or something. It’s the same concept as putting your microwave on your upper shelves. The lower cabinets aren’t as ergonomic as an upper shelf for sure. You’ll have to bend down to take things in and out of the oven. However, it is better than having an upper shelf that requires you to access it by ladder and whatnot.
The Bottom Line
Counter space is prime real estate in most kitchens. You want to place your microwave somewhere else so that you’d have space for cutting vegetables, mincing meats, or preparing your eggs for whisking and beating. Where can you tuck that appliance? There are actually loads of spaces available to you even in the tiniest of kitchens. You just need to know where to look and apply a bit of creativity when it comes to microwave oven placement. There are at least less than a dozen or so places to place your microwave away so your precious prep space is left alone.
- “Where to Put Microwave in Small Kitchen“, ThorKitchen.com, June 18, 2019
- “SEVEN PLACES TO PUT YOUR MICROWAVE (THAT AREN’T ON THE COUNTER)“, HappyStartsatHome.com, Retrieved January 4, 2021
- Yanic Simard, “9 Places to Put the Microwave in Your Kitchen“, Houzz.com, April 28, 2019