Microwave ovens are the most difficult appliances to place in a kitchen. They are a peculiar size. While upper wall cabinets are typically 12 inches deep and lower base cabinets are 24 inches deep, microwave ovens have many varying depths. They can range anywhere from 13 inches to 20 inches in depth. So if you place them in the upper cabinet area, they stick out past the face of the other cabinets. And that’s not even the worst of it.

Microwave ovens stick out past the upper cabinets.

Microwave ovens stick out past the upper cabinets.

It is hard to find the perfect height for microwave ovens. Sometimes people try placing the microwave in the base cabinets, below the countertop. This gets them out of the way. But when they are place this low, it’s nearly impossible to see and use the controls.

So if below the countertop doesn’t work, why not just put the microwave in the upper cabinets and just let it stick out? The bigger problem here is that now the bottom of the microwave is four and a half feet above the floor. That’s much too high for taking hot bowls of soup out of the microwave. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

I really don’t like the combination microwave and exhaust fan. They are even higher and more difficult to use.

The only reasonable solution is to either place the microwave oven right on the countertop. Or you could place it on a shelf several inches above the countertop, but not too high.

You can buy some nice looking microwaves that can be installed with a surrounding enclosure to give a built-in appearance. And you can buy microwaves that operate like drawers, thus letting you place them below the countertop. But still no one has found the perfect way to handle this awkward appliance. Yet most of us cannot live without one. So when planning your kitchen design, be sure to give a lot of thought about where you will place the microwave oven. Hopefully you can find the “least bad” place for it.