Microwaves are the most neglected and overlooked appliance in the kitchen," says Alon Toker, president of Mega Builders in Van Nuys, Calif. He says his clients think it's fine to have a remodeled kitchen with a microwave on the counter. Toker lets them know it's not. He spends a lot of his time educating them on the variety of options.
The best microwave location depends on the cooking habits of homeowners. Some prefer over the stove or counter, while others like an under-counter unit.
Most over-the-stove microwaves are at a 50- to 60-inch height. Any higher than that, Toker says, would make it difficult for a person of average height to use. Besides comfort, designers should consider the BTUs of a range or cooktop. Most residential burners have low BTUs, so a 58- to 60-inch height is safe, he says.
Remodeler Glen Doyle, owner of Doyle Builders in Princeton, N.J., prefers placing a microwave at eye level. He says with units over a stove, a client that uses both the stove and microwave at the same time might feel cramped. He installed a microwave under a countertop, which was more convenient for a short client. "It's just slightly higher than pulling something out of a dishwasher," he says.
Christopher Repp, president of Repp Construction in Orchard Park, N.Y., says that clients who choose an under-counter microwave tend to be gourmet cooks who don't use the microwave as a primary cooking appliance, or those who have children. "One of the first things kids learn how to use in the kitchen is the microwave," he says. Some manufacturers, Repp adds, have added a lock to prevent toddlers from playing with the keypad.
Toker includes open counterspace next to a microwave and places it near the refrigerator. "The most common traffic pattern is fridge to microwave," he says. Doyle also likes to include a large drawer under the unit to store special cooking utensils.