23.11.15

Hack Your Kitchen for an Over the Range Microwave (Kitchen Update for Way Less Cash)

by Robin and Ed

Hack Your Kitchen for an Over the Range Microwave (Kitchen Update for Way Less Cash)

Have you ever wanted to put an over-the-range microwave over your range (of all places!), but thought you didn't have enough space?  We thought that too.  But, like us, you might be mistaken - we were able to install one of these space saving dynamos in our kitchen without too much hassle or expense.


Here's how we hacked our kitchen cupboard to make an over-the-range microwave fit...


The top of a microwave is a stupid thing. I mean, it looks like a perfectly good place to put stuff - flat, smooth and always in an accessible location in the kitchen. 


But, as Robin reminds me, "Don't put stuff there!  It looks like crap!"  And our microwave was visible from every room on our main floor.  With it's so seductive spot on top begging for stuff to be put there.

Fortune cookies or Scouts popcorn anyone?
Everyone knew where to find those in our house.


Piling stuff on our old microwave was more of a symptom than the actual problem. The real functional issue was that it sat on a deep microwave shelf that overhung the counter below by an excessive amount. This made the counter unusable below it.  In our small galley kitchen losing this counter workspace was a very big deal.


Plus, we had plans to make this spot pretty:


You can read how we made these open shelves here.




Step 1:  Buy an over the range microwave.  


These babies are never cute, but they have dual functions, and in a small kitchen that's a big priority.  Sure an awesome hood fan would be sexy, but that would mean we'd lose space for a microwave plus the storage of the space above.  In our glorified hallway of a kitchen, that's not going to work.


I'm of the mind that microwaves, no matter the quality, don't have a long lifespan.  (Consumer Reports (sort-of) agrees,  They estimate 9 years -  and I don't know what fantasy island they bought their testers from, because we've never had one last half as long.)  It didn't make sense to spend a lot on one, we are doomed to replacing it soon enough regardless.


Robin wanted to buy one from the same company as our stove - just for a more cohesive look.  (She may be frugal, but she's no heathen.)  We waited for a sale and bought this GE over-the-range microwave for less than $200.  We've been really happy with it so far.



Step 2: Ma
ke the cabinet over the stove shorter.  




It sounds tough and a bit crazy, but it worked fine.  Removing was straightforward once we got all the screws out that were holding it up and into its neighbours.  A bit frustrating - some of those screws were buried deep below the hinges - in the end it was totally doable.  


We pulled out the cabinet box and cut it down. This was fairly straightforward on a table saw - just take the cabinet box apart (usually easy unless you already have custom, handmade cabinets) set the gate for the amount needed to trim off and run the 2 sides of the cabinet through that need to be shortened and reassemble. 


Don't have a table saw?  You could do the same with a circular saw, a straight-edge and a steady hand. 


Ta da - you just made a Custom Cabinet.  Time to brag!


Step 3: Electrical.


    Doing electrical work with a hammer?  This guy is clearly not qualified to give instructions on this!  No really.  He isn't.  This step will mean you need to hire an electrician or find a handyperson.  Ed can do electrical work for us, but teaching it here is beyond his scope.


Step 4: Reinstall your cabinet.



For the cabinet - just screw it up there how you found it.  For the microwave - your manufacturers instructions will be your best bet.


For us, the real challenge was connecting the old duct to the new vent connection on the range hood/microwave. It was in basically the right spot but was a bit long. You can't cut too much off or risk missing the connection altogether. Measure carefully! We made it a bit long, then "coaxed" it into place when we tilted the microwave up on its bracket. Drop the connection bolts in and tape up the duct. Not a one person job, for sure - so invite a friend over if you need to.





Step 5: Cabinet Doors.  (Maybe you'll get lucky too?)

Because we've got horseshoes up our butts Due to good planning  - we could reuse the cupboard doors from above our old microwave by turning them sideways!  They fit perfectly for the width.  (We had originally planned to convince Robin's dad to make new ones.) 


The height, however, was not such a perfect fit:





We came up with a little hack to make the height work: we added a piece of MDF to fill the gap at the bottom.  It worked great, and once we painted it, no one's noticed.  


As a side benefit, we like the lip it creates so that when we reach up for the cooking oil three other things no longer fall on our heads or land in the soup. 




After paint and tiles that space now looks like this:

Hack Your Kitchen for an Over the Range Microwave (Kitchen Update for Way Less Cash)



Would this work in your kitchen?  Could your kitchen be improved with an over-the-range microwave?


6 comments:

  1. Nice kitchen ! How can i have nice kitchen as your ?

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  2. Replies
    1. Awww - thanks, Kyla - we're really happy with it! :)

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  3. That's so best home blog for me. I get a lots of information from here. Perfect !

    ReplyDelete
  4. Looks great! What colour and brand of paint did you use on cupboards? Any special prep, or just a good cleaning first?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! The paint is Behr Premium enamel. We had a Sherwin Williams colour matched: Pussywillow. TONS of special prep. It matters the most with cupboards: sanding, TSP, priming and letting the paint cure a few days (at least) before using. Worth it though! :)

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