You are probably already aware of my obsession with microwaves, and where they should be placed in the kitchen, I’ve certainly posted plenty on the subject (here and here, for instance). I’ve been thinking that perhaps my obsession started because there is just so much choice when it comes to microwave location – from front and center as a microwave/vent combo over the range, to tucked behind a door in the pantry, and just about everywhere between – you don’t get that sort of choice with any other appliance that I can think of.
One location I haven’t covered yet is under the counter – a longtime favorite of microwave-phobics like me:
Of course, this is not really a perfect solution (if it were I wouldn’t need to be obsessed). Regular microwaves are just not designed to be used at below-the-waist height – you have to stoop to operate the controls, and you can’t easily see what is going on in the oven, either.
The industry has tried to solve some of the problems with the drawer-microwave. The first to reach these shores several years ago was by Sharp, and they are currently available from Sharp, Viking, Wolf, Dacor, and probably others that I’m not aware of.
An early complaint was that the drawers were too shallow – you could not put a 20 oz take-out coffee cup in to re-heat, as you can with the latest generation. Still, the capacity is not huge, at about 1.1 cubic feet in a 24″ w x 15.75″ h x 24.5″ deep space. A 30″ wide option, like the Wolf below, can work nicely stacked in a column with an oven, putting both the controls and the drawer itself at a comfortable height for the operator:
As far as I can see, the problem of difficult to see and operate controls is not really solved when the appliance is tucked under a countertop overhang, they are at least higher up than on a conventional microwave, and accessibility for seeing and stirring dishes in drawer is much improved. I don’t know if anybody has tried putting the controls on the top of the drawer pullout, as they do in an “incognito” dishwasher. An angled panel sounds like a possible solution, but this appliance from Sharp demonstrates just how dificult it would be to make that look really good:
On this evidence, I think I’ll just have to continue to be obsessed…