How to Integrate a Microwave
Find the right place in your kitchen for this essential small appliance. See seven ways you can integrate a microwave into your kitchen layout.
A countertop microwave eats up valuable workspace. Reclaim some of your lost countertop realty by integrating your microwave. First, consider the available microwave styles. Next, check out options for moving the microwave off the countertop without losing its convenience. Pros and cons of each option help you decide which idea works best in your kitchen.
Types of Microwaves
Countertop or Built-In
Countertop models can either sit on the counter or tuck into a shelf or opening in the cabinetry for a built-in look. Models with a mounting kit preserve work space by hanging on the wall, within cabinetry, or under the countertop. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when mounting your microwave.
Pro: A position on the countertop means immediate landing space is near.
Con: Countertop models occupy a sizable footprint on your valuable work surface.
This configuration features a stylish, integrated look and is ideal for kitchens with limited counter space or for island installations. Instead of reaching up to the counter or higher, users of any height can easily access this oven.
Pro: Because of their location, drawer-style microwaves provide easier access than countertop and over-the-range models, and they save counter space.
Con: These models tend to be more expensive than other options.
Over the Range
This arrangement offers a solution for kitchens that are pressed for space. Although many over-the-range microwaves include light and ventilation for the range below, the ventilation does not perform as well as a dedicated range hood and is not enough for pro-style ranges and cooktops.
Pro: Over-the-range microwaves save valuable work surface and are adequate substitutes for range hoods in most residential kitchens.
Con: These units are usually more expensive than countertop models and may require professional installation. Reaching over a hot range or cooktop to access the microwave also raises safety concerns.
7 Ways to Integrate a Microwave
Build Around Cabinetry
Creating a shelf or opening within cabinetry allows you to move the microwave off the work surface. For safety, it's best to find a location that offers landing space below. The more tightly the microwave fits into the space, the more streamlined it looks.
Pro: Building cabinetry around the microwave requires no demolition, making it a relatively easy and inexpensive option.
Con: Because there will probably be gaps between the microwave and the cabinetry, you may not get the flush look of a fully integrated, custom unit.
Add a Trim Kit
Similar to building cabinetry around your microwave, this solution is finished with a trim kit that fills the gaps to create a more integrated look. Most microwaves can be fitted with a trim kit from the oven manufacturer or from another supplier.
Pro: The microwave is fully integrated into the cabinetry, offering a custom look.
Con: A trim kit adds to the cost and requires extra installation expense.
Install as a Drawer
For a discreet look, a drawer-style microwave in an island or elsewhere below the countertop might be the solution. Tucked below a countertop, a drawer-style microwave offers easy access, readily available landing space for food going into or coming out of the microwave, and no demands on counter workspace.
Pro: This configuration is the safest for all users and lends a high-end look to the kitchen.
Con: Drawer-style microwaves tend to be more expensive than countertop models and have more limited installation options.
Hide Behind a Door
Placing the microwave inside a cabinet or appliance garage hides the microwave behind a door that blends with the rest of the cabinetry when the appliance is not in use. Tambour doors work especially well because the door lifts up and out of the way for easy access to the microwave.
Pro: This solution offers the benefit of immediate landing space without having to keep the microwave visible on the countertop.
Con: Adding a door comes with extra cost and installation requirements.
Group with Appliances
It makes sense to have cooking appliances in the same location, so group the microwave with a wall oven or other appliances. Selecting a trim kit that matches other appliances helps the microwave blend in.
Pro: Since you're already using the wall for appliances, no additional countertop space is wasted.
Con: This solution requires appliances that match and that can be grouped attractively and practically with your microwave.
Recess into a Wall
Depending on the kitchen floor plan, you may be able to recess the microwave into space stolen from a closet or garage. Before cutting into a wall, ask a builder or remodeler to check the structure of the wall and add reinforcement if necessary.
Pro: The microwave is flush with the wall for a custom look that doesn't require any counter or cabinet space.
Con: Some demolition and construction will be needed.
Install Over the Range
Installing an over-the-range microwave not only integrates the microwave with upper cabinets, but it also groups the appliance with the range below for a streamlined look.
Pro: This type of installation saves counter space.
Con: Over-the-range microwaves tend to be more expensive than countertop models. Also, be attuned to safety concerns.
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