Luxury Homes Abandon the Microwave

For some high-income homeowners, microwaves are one of the first things they look to replace in their kitchens. Steam and speed ovens are two alternatives that provide many of the same functions as microwaves at a higher quality. There also is a growing preference for the appliance to be hidden.

For most other homeowners, microwaves remain an essential element of the kitchen. Over 344.7 million microwaves were sold in 2017 and 92% households own microwave ovens. Price is one reason why: Currently, speed and steam ovens range from $1,700 to $8,000, while microwave units cost in the hundreds, and even a microwave in a drawer can be had for less than $1,200.

Designers and remodelers across the country are finding new ways to integrate the appliance into kitchens. Karinne Heal, a design consultant in Florida, said homeowners with design in mind will opt for microwaves out of sight in either drawers, kitchen islands, or pantries.

Microwave Alternatives

Modifications like the microwave drawer are one of many options for homeowners who don’t want their microwave as a stand-alone appliance. The drawer microwave can be integrated in open floor plans, which typically don’t have much wall space in their designs. While microwave drawers are more expensive than a typical microwave, they are currently less expensive than wholesale substitutes like steam or speed ovens.

A deterrent for the drawer microwave, however, is that the installations are often close to the floor making them both accessible to children and tough on the knees and backs of homeowners.

Another alternative to the traditional microwave that is gaining popularity with homeowners, especially on the west coast, is the speed oven, architect Michael Hennessey said. The speed oven is a smaller appliance with convection cooking and microwaving capabilities. Hennessey said the speed oven seamlessly fits into open design plans and can be more favorable to homeowners than microwave drawers because of the ability to place the speed oven at eye level. Hennessey said in many of the custom residential designs his company oversees, customers are opting for speed ovens rather than traditional microwaves.

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