Kitchen Design Rules to Break- Microwaves

Back to the rules- Here are some more rules I don't always follow.





Microwave should be in the most active part of the kitchen


This assumes you have a microwave, or that you use one daily, but how we use this once essential appliance is shifting. Confession, I have not had a microwave in 10 years. I often forget to include one when I'm designing, and end up scrambling last minute to find a home for it!

The convention seems to be that the microwave should be in an active part of the kitchen, but truth is, this is usually where backlogs and traffic jams happen. Here are some tips for placing it.

  1. Think about how you use the microwave before you select a location. If you are only using it to reheat your coffee... maybe you don't need one, and should allocate the budget and space for an upgraded grind and brew on-demand machine. If you are using to defrost, it should be close to the fridge and prep station. If your kids are using to heat up left overs and eat out of the dish, then it makes sense if it is in a walk in pantry or closer to fridge, but not near the prep/cooking areas.

  2. What height makes sense for you? If you don't' use it often, under the counter is ideal, if you use it daily, about 42-48" from the floor is best. Counter top height (36") rarely works for anyone, and over the range height (54") is a spill hazard, so best avoided if possible.

  3. If it's in the budget, go built-in. Built into the pantry, built into the cabinets, built into the base cabinets. I recommend this because it cleans up the space significantly, and there is less opportunity for clutter around the appliance.

  4. Think of ways to prepare food without using a microwave. Here's what works for us;

  • We warm food up in a pan on our induction cooktop. We keep some easy to clean ceramic coated pans in different sizes for this purpose, and find that the food tastes better this way.

  • Make popcorn in a pot on the stove. It tastes better. Trust me. We make ours with coconut oil and add salt before the kernels. takes the same amount of time, and watching the kernels pop is oh, so satisfying.

  • upgrade your coffee game. Don't warm it up in the microwave, just make a new cup. We have a Delonghi Automatic coffee/espresso with milk frothing and it is going on 4 years strong.

  • Defrost in the fridge. Figure out dinner over breakfast and pull anything that needs defrosting out in the morning and throw it in the fridge.

As always, 'Kitchen design rules' are more of guidelines. Every space is different, and you have to break some of the conventional guidelines to workaround the constraints of your space.


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