julieste

Least worst option for microwave placement--maybe low-profile OTR??

julieste
last month

I typically only use a microwave for basic re-heating, warming, melting etc. and don't do much real cooking in it at all.


We're about to embark on a kitchen gut and remodel. It's a small, 9' w x 13' l, U-shaped, condo kitchen with not too many options for design. We won't have many upper cabinets because we plan to have large window-like openings on two walls into the adjacent rooms. We don't want to spend big bucks on appliances (mid-range is what we're thinking), so don't want to go the route of some ultra unique and expensive appliance. And, it's a middle unit (townhouse style), so there are no options for venting a range hood outside. In many ways an over-the-range microwave/vent fan seems most practical.


As far as I know these are my choices for microwave placement if I don't want it on the counter (which I don't).


1. An open shelf cupboard or built-in in the lower cabinets. Con: this means crouching down low to take things in and out.

2. A standard over the range microwave/vent fan combo. Con: big and bulky visually.

3. Whirlpool's relatively new low profile microwave/vent fan combo that has a nice sleek look. https://blog.bellinghamelectric.com/blog/low-profile-microwave-reviews-ratings-prices Con: since it is mounted a little higher, it can be harder to reach up and into for shorter people (like me).

4. Jerry-rigging some sort of shelf that will hang down from an upper cabinet. I could have a microwave sitting on that. Con: will eliminate some counter space as a true workspace although I could still place items under this shelf for storage.


Are there any options I haven't thought of? Do you have any additional pros or cons to add? Thanks.

Comments (44)

  • PRO
    Trinity Builders & Design, Inc
    last month

    Have you thought about using microwave drawers?

    They tend to be a little bit more expensive, however its a great solutions for condo living. I personally had one in my last condo and loved it, it was installed in the lower cabinets and since you access from above, crouching down is not an issue.

    It also looks more sleek and less bulky than, lets say an over the range unit.

  • acm
    last month

    In a small kitchen, OTR is a must in order to save storage. If you're losing uppers, then a drawer steals some of the storage you do have. I'd do an OTR; do the slimmer version if you want to, and just let the cabinets come a bit lower to offset the height.

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  • julieste
    last month

    I'll have to look into the microwave drawers. But, I can understand what acm is saying about not wanting to give up any lower storage. Thanks, both of you.

  • PRO
    Trinity Builders & Design, Inc
    last month

    speaking as a home owner in this instance, not as a pro, I absolutely agree that you do not want to give up storage space. However, in my personal kitchen i had a large cabinet drawer under the microwave unit, which made it so it wasn't all wasted space.

    Like Julieste, i only used microwave for heating and not for actual cooking of any kind, and therefore a small microwave drawer was sufficient.

    I do agree with acm that there are nicer, slimmer versions of OTR and some are quite nice.


  • wdccruise
    last month
    1. Have you considered making the kitchen a galley kitchen instead of u-shaped? My kitchen is only 7-1/2 feet long and while I have a galley kitchen, one of my neighbors remodeled his into a u-shaped kitchen (counters on three sides) resulting in very little space to stand. A galley kitchen would allow longer wall for cabinets and appliances on both sides.
    2. A standard, over-the-range microwave makes the most sense. Yeah, it's bulky but remember it'll be hanging over an even bulkier range.
    3. The Whirlpool WML55011HS microwave is 10-5/16" high, but the GE PEM31 is only a bit higher at 12-1/8" and can be hung underneath a cabinet with an optional JXA019K mounting kit.
    4. Fortunately, there are some narrow refrigerators -- to conserve floor space -- that still have reasonable capacity (24" example, 28" example).
  • abbycat9990
    last month
    last modified: last month

    We hadn't used a microwave in over 7 years, so the microwave-on-a-shelf was an adjustment when we bought this house in 2013. We've reworked the kitchen a bit since then, but still like the microwave-on-a-shelf option.

  • julieste
    last month


    Beth--I'm glad you mentioned examining the rough-in specs. I'll keep it in mind.


    Trinity--I am going to look at pricing on microwave drawers but suspect they might end up being more than I want to spend.Thanks all.


    wdccruise--

    Our kitchen is 13' long by 9' wide, so we end up with just under 5' of interior space. It's not luxurious space, but works for two people in the kitchen at once. We've tried to think through every possible configuration (and removing walls to create a more open look and plan). Keeping the U seems to be our best option. Thanks for the tip about the GE microwave. I will check into it.


    abby--Very helpful photo idea. It helps me visualize a new possibility.

  • HKO HKO
    last month

    I get the loss of storage in a small kitchen, but I’ll chime in that we have one below counter (not a drawer) and you don’t have to bend over much. It’s fine, and great for kids. I didn’t want to spend the big bucks for a drawer, so we just built a little cabinet with doors (I think microwaves are ugly and didn’t want to look at one on a shelf). It’s in the cupboard over the blue drawer in this picture.

  • MizLizzie
    last month

    Generally not a fan of the OTR microwave but those low profile versions look very nice. If you truly cannot vent externally with a real range hood, I would do the OTR.

  • Robin Roberts
    last month

    Julieste, I was just replying to my kitchen designer who has suggested putting the microwave in a lower cabinet. (after I nixed the expense of a built in microwave) I know I don't want an OTR because I think the conflict of using the oven, stove top and microwave at the same time is not ideal. My hope is to either do the deep shelf idea in an open upper cab, or designing a designated space on the counter. Thanks for starting this thread!

    OR deciding to splurge on the cutest microwave I've ever seen by BIG CHILL


  • pittsburrito
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I was going to recommend mine, which is hung underneath an upper cabinet, but wdccruise beat me to it:

    "the GE PEM31 is only a bit higher at 12-1/8" and can be hung underneath a cabinet with an optional JXA019K mounting kit."
    We used the mounting kit, and we love it there!

    It comes in black, white, or stainless. (Ours is white.)

  • PRO
    Elizabeth Minish Design
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I had a GE Spacemaker micro wave with under cabinet mounting hardware in a very small condo kitchen and I STILL regret having sold it with the condo. It was at the end of a run butted up against a wall, so the counter space was not so very useful anyway.

    I have also specified very small micro waves that don't project much past the standard depth of a cabinet and therefore don't need an ungainly shelf. They are not as high powered as larger units but if you're mostly just reheating and thawing, there are just fine.

    I want to put in another plug for an issue you raised about OTR microwaves and shorter

    statured cooks. I think they are dangerous and more so as people age and lose upper body strength. I have nightmares about the idea of someone spilling a very hot bowl of something down their front for a very nasty burn. Plus, if you rarely use the microwave but like to actually use your stove, they are a total drag because they are in the way if they are low enough not to be dangerous.

  • Newideas
    last month

    We purchased this petite sized LG microwave several years ago. It fits in an upper cabinet and we drilled a hole for the cord so it would plug in on the wall below. It has 1000 watts so quite powerful and has stood up to daily use from a family of 4. Spacious inside and holds serving bowls and a full sized dinner plate. (My criteria) Exterior is only 14.5 “ deep. Highly recommend if you need something smaller and not built in. Also cheap to replace if it dies..
    https://www.bestbuy.com/site/lg-neochef-0-9-cu-ft-compact-microwave-stainless-steel/5721300.p?skuId=5721300

  • PRO
    Creative Visual Concepts, Kevin Strader
    last month

    We use ours like you, just for reheating mostly. 1) Hate the OTR ones. Like you said, visually intrusive and major grease catchers. 2) Hanging shelf. Looks like an after thought. 3) Open shelf in lower cabinets. Better but it's still visible. 4) Closed cabinet in lower cabinets. That's what I would go with. Not visible but there when you need it. That's what we went with. It's in the cabinet at the left end of the island. Bending over to get to it is no big deal.


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  • PRO
    Elizabeth Minish Design
    last month

    Depending on where you live, that scenario (behind a closed door) might violate electrical code. It does in my jurisdiction.

  • AnnKH
    last month

    I also have a U-shaped kitchen, and one of the goals in my remodel was to replace the OTR with a real hood. I found a cute little MW with a rounded back, that fits perfectly in a corner. I know you said you didn't want it on the counter, but if storage space is at a premium, it might be your best option.


    corner microwave

  • PRO
    Zobel and Co. Kitchens
    last month

    Consider a microwave drawer (http://www.sharpusa.com/ForHome/HomeAppliances/Microwaves/MicrowaveDrawer.aspx )

    It would be place in one of your base cabinets or island, if you're having one. No hood/vent needed. They are fabulousSharp Microwave drawer

  • julieste
    last month

    Thanks all of you. I may end up with the microwave drawer, maybe. We're definitely going to the appliance store to check them out even though they are more than we initially wanted to spend on a microwave. We're retired, and I worry about lifting things in and out of an over the range microwave as we age.


    That really is a cute little corner microwave though if I'd want something on the counter.

  • cpartist
    last month

    I love my MW drawer.

    Another thing to consider is if you're doing anything but induction, an OTR microwave can be a bit hazardous. (Ask me how I know.)

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Very often, using deeper than standard cabinet/counters in a galley kitchen layout pays you back with huge storage gains, and gains in accessibility. Because you lose the hard to access corners. 30” deep lowers, even if they are standard 24” ones just blocked out an extra 6”, gives you an impressive 25% gain in counter space. Doing 15” deep uppers instead of 12” gives the same 25” storage increase. Do this in frameless, and harvest back the extra drawer space not wasted on faceframes, and the whole kitchen is more efficient, with an easier to work in footprint.

  • julieste
    last month

    Cook's Kitchen--


    I've heard about the idea you are suggesting and have been intrigued by it. But, help me with the math in my place. Currently there is 57" across the kitchen from counter top edge to counter top edge. If I use those deeper set cabinets with the resulting increase in counter space, I'll only have a 45" space left for people to work. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that 48" is the minimum space that is functional. Obviously, I could do what you are suggesting and just set each cabinet out 4.5", rather than 6" but it seems to me that even 48" might be too tight. Thoughts?

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    last month
    last modified: last month

    42”-48” are the suggested work aisle minimum’s. A dead end galley, as opposed to an open ended galley, doesn’t get through traffic, so doesn’t need to be a traffic way. Any bodies in there should be working bodies, or get thrown out. Locate the refrigerator (and MW) at the open end, and that eliminates a lot of intrusion. One bonus of the deeper cabinets is that a full depth fridge doesn’t stick out from the counter so much!

    I suggest using cardboard boxes to block up different aisle spaces for you and any other kitchen workers. Go through the motions of making a meal. You should have enough room, without feeling cramped. It’s the extra counter space, plus making the corner space more accessible that really causes the deeper cabinets to be so useful. Even if you just do it on the fridge side, I think you’ll really enjoy how that helps add storage.


    The left hand side of this kitchen has the 30” deep counters. And the rest does not. Appliances can sit there and not impact working space at all.

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  • julieste
    last month

    I see what you are saying about the fridge not being so obtrusive. It's an idea I'll definitely consider since ours is U shaped with the range on the bottom (short end) of the U. And, we were already planning to move the fridge down to the end of one of the legs of the U.

  • Terri Clark
    last month

    when I redid my kitchen our only real option was to put it under the counter in the island and I was worried about the whole crouching thing too. Turns out, I love it there. it's out of line of sight and you dont really around down, its more a reach down not crouch down.

  • Terri Clark
    last month

    here's a photo.

  • darbuka
    last month

    This is what we did in our galley kitchen:


  • julieste
    last month

    These last 2 photo suggestions are both really helpful. I have lots of possibilities to think about now.

  • Robin Roberts
    last month

    @darbuka That is eXACTLY what I was looking for! How deep is that cab?

    Would you be willing to share more photos of your kitchen? Thanks so much.

  • Leslie NE. Florida coast, zone 9A
    last month

    How difficult is it to clean the drawer microwave? We're designing an age-in-place kitchen and going with a lower location, but worried that it will be hard to reach/clean the back of the drawer. It seems slightly easier to reach into a regular opening microwave to clean it.


  • julieste
    last month

    Leslie--That's a great question.


    I'm also trying to visualize how these work since I typically put one of those plastic spatter preventers over whatever I am heating in the microwave.

  • julieste
    last month

    I just found this old thread that discusses microwave drawers. These don't sound exactly like a great solution either.


    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/2863295/pros-and-cons-of-microwave-drawer-please


    darbuka's solution of an above the counter shelf is starting to look better all the time. And, it seems to me that with this option, one relatively inexpensive microwave could be switched out for another pretty easily if the microwave dies.



  • theresa21
    last month

    I also have a small U-shaped kitchen that will be remodeled soon. I use my microwave fairly often to heat leftovers, make tea and warm coffee. It sits in one of the corners on the counter. I never liked the usability of OTR microwaves or the look of microwaves that sit on open shelves. And with such a small kitchen, I couldn't justify replacing cabinet space for a drawer microwave anywhere in the kitchen. When I have guests over, I frequently put away the Vitamix that sits on the counter full time. I always thought I could also put away the microwave if needed, but have never felt a need to do so.

  • darbuka
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @Robin Roberts...the MW cab is 20” deep.

    Happy to oblige. Her are some more pics of the kitchen. I’ll have to break them up into several posts. You may have to click to enlarge.

    Thermador range top.


    Pots and pan drawers underneath


    Drawers under main sink. Holds a ton of cleaning items, plus rolls of wax and parchment papers, plastic wrap, tin foil. So much better than a cavernous cabinet.

  • darbuka
    last month
    last modified: last month

    A few more. Click for entire pic.

    Prep sink area. Pullout mixer lift on left. Pullout garbage under sink. This area abuts Miele double ovens on left, and SZ 42” FD fridge on the right.

    Soapstone counters...Belvedere, a hard variety.

    Paneled Bosch 800 dw


  • darbuka
    last month

    Last three:

    and

    and


  • B F
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Do you plan on having a toaster too? They make microwave / toaster combos now but I don't know how good they are. But if they are any good, a 2-in-1 appliance will save you space.

  • debrak_2008
    last month

    GE profile makes a microwave the is upper cabinet depth. We have one that sits on a shelf but it is the same depth as the upper cabs. Not so obtrusive as the usual size.

  • Sarah Brennan
    last month

    We have had an under counter microwave for 5 years and love it. We wouldn't do it any differently not we have had it like this. In fact, we are on our 3rd kitchen with tons of space and still choosing to put it under the counter. It really doesn't require crouching down or anything - it isn't like you watch the food cook. Just pop it in, start, walk back, grab it.


    FWIW we are also pretty average height at 5"7/6'

  • grannysmith18
    last month

    Just an FYI, I have uppers that are 14 inches deep instead of the usual 12 and it adds an amazing amount of storage - for instance, I'm able to keep my mugs behind my dishes all on one shelf.

    @darbuka - Your kitchen is beautiful! How do you like that SZ 42inch refrigerator? We're planning to get it.

  • julieste
    last month

    I am the OP. We visited an appliance store the other day that had real kitchen scenarios set up with working appliances. The microwave drawer was full of spatters, and I certainly wouldn't want to try to get down on the floor to reach in to clean it out. So, I've eliminated that idea. I think (not 100% certain though) that for us it is going to be either the GE spacemaker that hangs from an upper cabinet or a shelf like Darbuka has that is installed at the bottom of an upper cabinet.


    Darbuka--Qjuick soapstone question for you: Is this what your soapstone still looks like or has it darkened considerable over time? I love soapstone and have some elsewhere but as just too worried that it is so dark. Your looks much lighter and is lovely.

  • Bruce in Northern Virginia
    last month

    We had limited counter space even after our renovation, and no way to use an OTR microwave, so we used a microwave drawer to avoid using counter space. I'm not sure how low the appliance store had installed the microwave drawer you looked at, but I certainly don't have to get down on the floor to clean out any splatters. Its at a very convenient height for cleaning.

    We used the Sharp version because it was less expensive, but the same mechanicals are repackaged and sold by other brands in a sleeker design that has a completely flat front.

    Bruce


  • Gcubed
    last month

    following

  • julieste
    last month

    Bruce, that does look nice! The cleaning aspect does still bother me though, but maybe it wouldn't be a problem if we consistently used a plate cover all the time so we wouldn't have as many spatters to deal with. From what I saw, it's the ceiling of the microwave that would be most difficukt to get at.

  • cpartist
    last month

    May I suggest you post your 2D floor plan and we can help you get the most efficient kitchen? You may be right that a U shape is most efficient, or maybe the gallery is.

    Again is your stove gas or induction? (Trust me if it's a choice between electric and induction, go with the induction. You won't regret it!)

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