Where to put a microwave in a kitchen – for a space-saving, seamless aesthetic

Deciding where to place your microwave in the kitchen can be a tricky endeavor. You want it to be convenient and accessible, but not disrupt the aesthetic or workflow of your cooking space. With some strategic planning, you can find the ideal spot that saves space while blending seamlessly into your kitchen’s style.

Assess your kitchen layout and existing appliances

Take stock of the size and layout of your kitchen. Consider the locations of key appliances like your stove, refrigerator, and sink. You’ll want the microwave within easy reach of these stations for cooking convenience.

Also look at built-ins like cabinetry and shelving. The microwave will likely need to sit on a countertop or be mounted above or within a cabinet. Measure any empty spaces that could potentially accommodate the microwave.

Prioritize ease of access and multi-tasking

Ideally, the microwave should be placed in a spot that allows you to get food in and out of it easily. Being able to access the microwave without having to take more than a couple steps across the kitchen helps save time when reheating food or melting ingredients.

It’s also handy to position the microwave near areas where you prep and plate food, such as a kitchen island or peninsula. This allows you to microwave ingredients while also working on other recipe steps.

Consider venting requirements

Most over-the-range microwaves require ventilation, which means positioning it above a stove or cooktop. This can be an ideal space-saving solution.

Countertop microwaves may or may not require additional venting. Check your appliance specs to see if it needs airflow. If so, don’t tightly nestle it in a cabinet or corner. Leave some open space around the microwave.

Choose a streamlined, built-in style

Selecting a microwave with a low-profile, built-in design can help it blend seamlessly into your kitchen’s existing cabinetry. This streamlined look keeps the appliance hidden away when not in use, maintaining your kitchen’s clean aesthetic.

Look for microwaves with trim kits that allow the appliance to be installed flush with the cabinets. Front ventilation allows the microwave to be mounted against a wall or nestled between cabinets.

Consider finish and color

Match the finish and color of your microwave to the existing kitchen cabinets and appliances for cohesion. Stainless steel is a popular neutral tone that pairs well with most styles. White, black, and panel-ready models also mimetically fit into different color palettes.

If placing the microwave on the counter, choose a finish that coordinates with your cabinet hardware and other decor accents. A glossy black microwave could complement brass fixtures, for example.

Install at a convenient height

Mount the microwave at a height that allows for ergonomic access. Standard installation height is between 4 to 5 feet above the floor. If placing above a cooktop, keep it low enough to safely remove hot food.

For wheelchair accessibility, building codes recommend a maximum height of 48 inches. Make sure the microwave door can open fully at the installed height.

Incorporate stylistic details

Small touches like trim kits, glass doors, and brushed metal handles can help the microwave look like it belongs in your kitchen’s design scheme.

Built-in models that align with the cabinetry, including arched tops or custom panels, look especially seamless. Hide any visible ventilation grates or fans behind coordinating facades.

Keep the top clutter-free

Resist the urge to use the microwave top as storage space. Keeping it free of clutter enhances the streamlined built-in look. It also improves ventilation and makes for easier cleaning.

Use the top of the microwave only temporarily when preparing food or pulling it straight from the appliance. For permanent storage, install a cabinet above the microwave.

FAQs about Microwave Placement

Should the microwave be at eye level?

Mounting the microwave at eye level can make it easier to see inside while cooking. But this may position the appliance too high for safe food removal. Most experts recommend installing microwaves no higher than 5 feet off the ground.

Where should you never put a microwave?

Avoid placing a microwave near a sink or other source of water splashes. Do not block ventilation openings. Also don’t install above anything that could be damaged by steam, like artwork.

Is it OK to put a microwave in a corner?

This can work, provided there is room to fully open the door and adequate ventilation. But a corner microwave is typically harder to access. Opt for an open counter space instead if possible.

Should microwaves match the cabinets?

Aesthetically, yes. Matching the finish and color helps the microwave blend in. Installation is simpler too since built-in trim kits are designed for standard cabinet sizes.

Is it better to mount a microwave above or below a cooktop?

Above the cooktop takes advantage of the ventilation hood space. Below can be safer for retrieving hot food. Either position can work with proper clearance from heat sources.


Strategically placing your microwave not only improves cooking convenience, but also helps maintain your kitchen’s aesthetic. Focus on easy access to appliances, smart venting, and a streamlined built-in style. With some planning, your microwave can discreetly and seamlessly blend into your existing kitchen layout and decor. Priority should be given to practical placement for multi-tasking ease over design alone. But with careful selection of finish and features, even a workhorse appliance like the microwave can look like it was custom-integrated into your cooking space.