Where To Place Microwave in Kitchen Design

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Every kitchen design project requires careful consideration of where we’ll place appliances. Over the years I’ve needed to get creative and find some solutions in less then perfect layouts. Take my years of experience and read on for my ideas and tips on the best placements for your microwave.

Key Takeaways:

  • Design considerations such as the location of other appliances, space constraints, and ventilation requirements should be considered when deciding where to put the microwave.
  • Common placement ideas include placing the microwave on a countertop, installing it in a wall cabinet, island, corner cabinet, or under the counter.
  • A built-in wall cabinet or in-drawer microwave are creative placement ideas.
  • Putting the microwave above the counter or in the pantry are also options to consider.
  • Accessibility, cleaning needs, and ventilation are additional factors to keep in mind.
  • It is important to leave enough space for ventilation and to get professional installation for accurate measurements and correct setup.

Design Considerations

The size and shape of your kitchen and number of appliances – all affect where the microwave should go. Let’s explore the options!

Location of other appliances

Location matters when you decide where to put your microwave in the kitchen. Measure the space you have, making sure there’s enough air circulation. If items are too close, it can cause it to overheat and not work well.

Think about drawers and cabinets nearby that might block air circulation or door/drawer openings. Consider dishwashers, range hoods, and windows, too.

Don’t put the appliance above a stove or oven (unless you have no other option in a small space,) as this will mess with performance and the grill function. Keep furniture away from it and note any flooring issues that may affect functioning. Get a kitchen contractor to help for accurate measurements and correct setup.

Space constraints

When designing a kitchen, space is important. Small kitchens may not have enough room for appliances and cabinets. Countertop microwaves are more practical than built-in models. They require less space and offer more flexibility. They also provide ease of use since no installation is necessary.

Accessibility is an additional factor to consider. It is easier to reach the oven door and functions with countertop microwaves. Cleaning needs to be taken into account too. Countertop microwaves can easily be moved out of the way for cleaning.

Ventilation requirements

Ventilation is key when installing a microwave in your kitchen. Make sure your ventilation can handle the airflow before buying a new one. Most microwaves need an exhaust hood or fan. Be sure there’s enough space for stovetop temps and steam. Plus, make room for cabinet doors opening above the appliance.

Most microwaves need to be placed next to an exterior wall or window for exhaust vents and cooling air circulation. Leave at least 6 inches between cabinet doors and knobs. This will help air flow and stop heat from blocking when cooking. If you have a powerful stand-alone model, consider installing an over-the-range micro-hood. This will trap cooking vapor and odors, keeping them out of your kitchen.

Common Placement Ideas

As a kitchen designer, I’ve seen many microwaves placed differently. People often ask me: “How do I design a kitchen layout with a microwave?“. Here are some of the common ideas I’ve discovered in my career:

  • Place the microwave on a countertop, making sure to leave enough space for ventilation.
  • Install the microwave in a wall cabinet, making sure to leave enough space for ventilation.
  • Install the microwave in an island, making sure to leave enough space for ventilation.
  • Mount the microwave under the counter, making sure to leave enough space for ventilation.
  • Install the microwave in a corner cabinet, making sure to leave enough space for ventilation.

See Also: Top 5 Best Countertop Microwave in Canada

Above the counter

For a neat and aesthetically pleasing look, microwaves should be placed above the counter to align with upper cabinets. If there are no cabinets, create a built-in area for the microwave. This placement makes it easily accessible, too! When installing, make sure it’s mounted securely.

Be aware that an over-the-counter microwave will block some light. So, additional spot lighting may be needed.

Also, consider heat and ventilation. If the kitchen is not well ventilated, or the microwave has no external venting system, place it higher off the ground. Placing the microwave above the counter is great for quick and easy access!

In the pantry

Put your microwave in the pantry – a great way to hide it away yet keep it handy. Ideal for small kitchens which need more appliances on the counter or over the range.

Think of these when installing:

  • Leave space between the appliance and other items to avoid heating.
  • Pick a model that fits and is well-ventilated.
  • Add shelves or racks so dishes and groceries below don’t get disturbed.
  • Check wiring with an electrician for safety.
  • Illuminate the cabinet with LED lighting for ease of access in the dark.

Built-in wall cabinet

A built-in wall cabinet is a great way to place your microwave and save counter space. It’s easier to remove and clean than other options.

When selecting a cabinet for your microwave, make sure it’s the right size and style. Most microwaves are 20″ wide & 16″ deep. Make sure your cabinet allows ventilation—some may require special vents. Insulated walls can help keep your kitchen cooler if your cabinet adjoins an exterior wall or one leading into another room. Maximize efficiency with insulated walls!

Creative Placement Ideas

Searching for ways to put your microwave in the kitchen? This article has you covered! Here are the most imaginative placement ideas to make the best of the kitchen space. Let’s start exploring!

In a drawer

Traditional countertop microwaves might not fit with your kitchen design. Try a microwave drawer! It offers more space, access and less clutter.

Pick one of your existing cabinets or install a new one specifically for the drawer. Make sure you check that there’s enough room before you commit! You’ll need a professional installer to get it done.

Under the counter

A narrow kitchen layout? Best place for a microwave? Yes! Installing an under-counter model needs some space adjustment. Measure and plan carefully.

You can create storage, by mounting the microwave flush to the cabinets or using just enough vertical space for the unit. Plus some inches for ventilation. And custom drawers below. This keeps all your kitchen necessities close and clears up counter space.

In an island

Islands are a popular choice for microwave placement in kitchens. Usually, you can install the appliance on the countertop. But, if the island is big or in an awkward place, it may be hard to access while standing. Measure the space and plan ahead to make sure the microwave is at the right height for both standing and sitting.

Drawers or hidden cabinets are great for out-of-the-way placements. If you have a stove and oven combo, you might need to get a separate microwave. Consider a stackable unit or one in a drawer. This is a good way to get more storage and surface area for food prep.

Plus, you can get creative with tile patterns or backsplashes behind shelves near appliances. This adds some visual interest.


Investigating kitchen design options? Best way to determine where to place your microwave is to consider what you primarily use it for and the layout of your kitchen. Think carefully. Every kitchen is unique. Finding the optimal spot is possible!

Summary of key points

When designing a kitchen, placement of the microwave is important. It depends on the kitchen size and shape, plus how often you use it. To optimize the design, allow 30 cm either side and 15 cm above and below. This gives space for airflow and eliminates hazards.

Different homes may have different requirements. Check local building codes to see if there are any restrictions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the best ideas for the placement of a microwave in a kitchen?

A. The best ideas for the placement of a microwave in a kitchen would depend on the size and layout of the kitchen. Generally, the most popular options are to place the microwave on the countertop, in a built-in cabinet, or to hang it under the cabinets. Additionally, you can also place the microwave in a kitchen island or in a corner.

Q. What are some tips for designing a kitchen around a microwave?

A. When designing a kitchen around a microwave, there are a few tips to keep in mind. First, make sure to choose a microwave that will fit in the available space. Additionally, take into consideration the height of the microwave and make sure that it is easy to reach. Finally, be sure to provide enough clearance around the microwave for ventilation.

Q. What are the advantages of placing a microwave in a built-in cabinet?

A. Placing a microwave in a built-in cabinet has several advantages. First, it will help to free up counter space in the kitchen. Additionally, it can help to make for a more streamlined look in the kitchen, as the microwave will be hidden from view. Finally, it can also help to reduce kitchen noise.


Hey, there! I'm an interior designer (now part-time blogger) with the New Look Kitchen & Bathroom Renovations team here in Toronto, Canada. I write about kitchen and bathroom design elements, trends, products and more. Thanks for stopping by! Please give us a call for any of your designs needs. Best, Priyanka