Where to Put a Microwave in a Tiny Kitchen?

Guess what appliance every modern kitchen has? A microwave! They have become essential gadgets for every kitchen, making our lives so much easier. But microwaves are also bulky, and if we don’t have a spacious kitchen, there might be the problem of where to put them.

The best place to put a microwave in a tiny kitchen is where it works. This can be over the range, on an upper or lower shelf, in a built-in trim kit, in a drawer, on a wall bracket, on a cart, or in a kitchen cabinet.

A tiny kitchen already has big appliances such as a stove and fridge. Finding the perfect place for the microwave can be a challenge. When deciding where to put a microwave in a tiny kitchen, the primary goal is to maintain or create more space in the best way possible. 

An image of a smiling woman looking at the microwave in kitchen.

Where Do You Put a Microwave With Little Counter Space?

If the kitchen has little counter space, consider putting the microwave in a drawer, kitchen cabinet, or any similar variation of the two.

It is very important to put a microwave on a stable kitchen surface where it won’t stand in the way. Pay attention to this, especially with a tiny kitchen and small children.

We suggest hiding the microwave and putting it in a drawer or a cabinet. You can either keep it in there and pull it out as needed or wire it to be used within the cabinet after some electrical work.

In a drawer

A drawer is one of the most creative spaces to put a microwave. But don’t put it in an ordinary one; instead, put it in a microwave drawer. To use a microwave drawer, we will have to install it in the kitchen, below the counter.

Then, when we need the microwave, we open the microwave drawer.

A microwave drawer is a bit pricey, but it will save a lot of space in a tiny kitchen if we can afford it. If you can’t afford a dedicated microwave drawer, you could install another type of drawer in a cabinet that can be pulled out for use. Then it’s still in the cabinet, but on its own retractable drawer.

In a spare kitchen cabinet

If the kitchen isn’t used often, there may be an empty cabinet – consider putting the microwave in there. Of course, make sure the cabinet and microwave proportions match.

If they match, you can use the existing cabinet shelf as-is. If they don’t match (and you don’t mind moving the shelves), you can consider adjusting the shelves or replacing them with a shelf system that would let your microwave fit.

Cabinets are great because they keep the microwave out of sight when we’re not using them.

On a shelf and a wall bracket

Try putting the microwave on an upper or lower shelf. When doing this, we suggest calling a professional electrician/technician because of the microwave’s ventilation system.

A professional will advise us on the shelf’s appropriate height and the microwave’s clearance space. The same goes for the wall brackets.

Inside a built-in trim kit

There are specifically designed microwave trim kits that provide the airflow a microwave needs.

Warning: please only use the built-in trim kits for microwaves. For safety reasons, this is only a DIY method for those proficient at managing electrical and exhaust concerns.

Call a handyman or other professional if you’re at all unsure about this kind of DIY project.

Over the range

Installing the microwave above a countertop is a perfect solution for tiny kitchens. Microwaves over the stove range provide the necessary clearance space a microwave needs for airflow. It’s expensive but worth every penny.

This is where most microwaves are today, so it’s usually a default option.

Where Should You Not Put a Microwave?

People should not put their microwaves close to a window, next to the fridge, the sink, or a corner cabinet. Ensure any microwave has enough space for use, airflow and exhaust, and to be away from any possible dangers. 

As a warning, finding a perfect place for a microwave in a tiny kitchen can be a challenge. All the no-no locations we mentioned above are very inconvenient for the microwave. If we place the microwave at the wrong height, there might be safety issues.

Close to the window

Generally, windows should always be far away from appliances, especially the ones that generate heat. The window should be clear for a safe exit if a fire breaks out.

In a corner cabinet

Microwaves create a busy and crowded area because people move from the fridge to the microwave and vice versa. The worst possible option for kitchen space is to put the microwave in a corner cabinet. 

Corner cabinets only work if the kitchen has a special angled space, which most tiny kitchens don’t have. A microwave in a corner cabinet has no airflow and isn’t appropriately supported.

Next to the fridge

This is not a good idea if a fridge has two doors or one door opens in the same direction as the microwave. The microwave door can dent the fridge door, so we must be extra careful.

Also, microwaves and refrigerators expel heat, so it’s safer not to put these appliances near each other.

Next to the sink

Many people are confused about why a microwave beside the sink is unsafe. While washing the dishes, there is a risk of splashing the microwave with water. Place the microwave between four and nine feet away from the sink to do this right.

How Much Space Do You Need Around a Microwave for Ventilation?

There is no established standard on how much space is needed around a microwave for ventilation. Try maintaining a space of three inches at the top, the same on the sides, and one inch at the back for most microwaves, although over-the-range microwaves may not have overhead space.

Microwaves produce electromagnetic radiation, so they don’t produce heat in the usual sense. When the microwave is on, it produces air molecules that vibrate and increase the temperature. That hot air has to go out, so we need space around a microwave.

Of course, it all depends on the microwave’s ventilation system. We advise talking with a technician first and asking them about the airflow of the microwave and safe clearance space. Or at least read the microwave’s handbook. That can tell you what you need to know, too.

Is It Ok to Put the Microwave in the Pantry?

If the pantry has a safe shelf to hold a bulky microwave, putting it in the pantry can be OK if it also has sufficient clearance and airflow for using the microwave. If there is insufficient space for using it in a pantry, always create that space to use the microwave safely.

Pantries are a great option for putting away a microwave. Ideally, the pantry is accessibly located, so it’s easy for us to carry the supplies in and out of the pantry.

Regarding safety, there should be no issues if the size of the pantry is appropriate for the microwave’s ventilation system. If it’s not quite large enough, putting it on some pull-out shelf (that’s strong enough) could fix that problem. Just pull the shelf out to use the microwave, then push it back in when it’s done.

An image of a Modern built-in microwave oven with an open door.

Can a microwave be stored in a closet?

A microwave can be stored in a closet if it is unplugged.

We can store our microwave in a closet when we are finished using it. As mentioned above, microwaves need a clearance space around them because microwaves generate heat. After finishing with the microwave, unplug it and only then store it in the closet.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

When there is a tiny kitchen, you would think there aren’t many options for where to put the microwave. But, as it turns out, tiny kitchens have plenty of options. The microwave’s ventilation system is the most important thing to consider when placing the microwave in a kitchen. 

Even if the kitchen is tiny, don’t put the microwave near heat sources or in small closets. Safety is always first!


Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These sources were used in this article and our research to be more informed as we DIY and decorate our homestead.

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  • Dima, A. (2022, December 19). Where to Put a Microwave in a Tiny Kitchen. Impressive Interior Design. https://www.impressiveinteriordesign.com/where-to-put-a-microwave-in-a-tiny-kitchen/
  • Emma, E. (2022, May 10). Where to Put the Microwave in a Small Kitchen. Little House Lovely Home. https://littlehouselovelyhome.com/where-to-put-microwave-in-small-kitchen/
  • Is it OK to put a microwave in a cupboard? (n.d.). Quora. https://www.quora.com/Is-it-OK-to-put-a-microwave-in-a-cupboard
  • Meyer, M. (2023, January 25). Where to Put the Microwave in Your Kitchen: 5 Mistakes to Avoid. Inspired Kitchen Design. https://inspiredkitchendesign.com/where-to-put-the-microwave-in-your-kitchen-5-mistakes-to-avoid/
  • P., W. (2021, January 21). Where to Put Your Microwave if Your Kitchen Is Small – 8 Ideas. HomelyVille. https://homelyville.com/where-to-put-microwave-in-small-kitchen/
  • Stellar, S. (2023, February 2). How Much Space Do You Need Above, Behind, Around A Microwave. PortablePowerGuides. https://portablepowerguides.com/how-much-space-do-you-need-around-a-microwave/
  • West, R. W. (n.d.). Seven places to put your microwave (that aren’t on the counter). Seriously.Happy.Homes. https://www.happystartsathome.com/seven-places-to-put-your-microwave-that-arent-on-the-counter/
  • Where To Keep a Microwave in The Kitchen With a Small Countertop. (2022, June 24). ShelfGenie. https://www.shelfgenie.com/blog/tips-tricks/where-to-keep-a-microwave-in-the-kitchen-with-a-small-countertop/

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