Microwave Down!

May 19, 2014

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




We're Chris + Julia

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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

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This weekend, we started painting our cabinets in the kitchen. The goal was to get all the uppers painted, but we only got as far as priming them because we decided to add another spur-of-the-moment project while we’re working in here.


Our over-the-range microwave has been driving us crazy since we moved in. It is so low. To the point where we can’t use the back burners and to turn on the stove at all, we have to bend down.



As you can see, the stove and microwave were actually less than 14″ apart–which is a low by normal standards (18″ minimum is standard) and extremely low for us tall people. Saturday morning, we woke up and decided to tear out the microwave and the cabinets around it as well to lighten the whole space up.



Taking everything down took hardly any time at all. But patching and fixing up that wall took us the rest of the day, in between meals and bouncing Faye.


We patched all of the large holes with mesh tape and a couple layers of joint compound.


Eventually a proper range hood will go here, so we capped the wires and put a plate over it.


We sanded the whole wall smooth and sprayed on some slight orange peel texture to match the rest of the walls and a coat of paint. In the morning, we hung Chris’s magnetic knife rack and a shelf from Ikea to hold spices. The backsplash was tiled around the super-low microwave so hanging the knives to fit in that section makes it feel more intentional? Let’s go with it.



The area is so much brighter and definitely more accessible. Chris loves having his knives and spices right at hand. We are fortunate enough to have a window right next to the oven, so the temporary absence of a vent hood doesn’t seem like such a big deal to us–especially considering that monster microwave’s vent didn’t really work. With that problem solved, we’re anxious to get the cabinets done and our kitchen put back together in time for a bbq at our place this weekend. Fire has been lit!

What do you think?

  1. […] evolution includes removing our microwave and surrounding cabinets, rearranging some furniture, painting our cabinets and getting new barstools and installing this […]

  2. […] the magic of paint–and removing our really low microwave and the surrounding cabinets helped, too. In this post, we discussed our paint scheme, but as a refresher we went with Valspar’s […]

  3. WOW! Talk about a drastic and FABULOUS difference! Isn’t it just amazing how removing some cabinets can totally change things. We recently moved some cabinets around in our kitchen and it has totally transformed the space. We also recently painted our cabinets. It was a long process, but we are so happy with how they turned out. Can’t wait to see how yours turn out!

  4. Tami says:

    OMG that looks soooooooo great!!! I cannot wait to see the paint :) Your home is beautiful, as was your last one. I love this blog!

  5. Suzanne says:

    maybe its just me… knives above stoves look kind of weird to me, but pots/pans or ladles/spatulas look cute.

    • Julia says:

      I love that look too! I have a few pinned. This is just more functional for us (errr…Chris). He uses his knives a lot more than a slew of pots and pans.

  6. Judith says:

    That looks so much nicer! And good on ya for doing it properly.
    That previous microwave just looked ridiculous there, like it was put in a spot that was only meant to hold a built-in thin rangehood and not that humongous box. I’m German, and I’ve never seen microwaves hung in that spot before I started to look at American DIY blogs. I was really surprised to see that it wasn’t just an oddity in one kitchen, but actually done that way all over the place. Why someone would mount them there to be right in your face any time you actually want to use the stove is beyond me.

    I really like the look you created with putting the knife rack there. Nice work, all of it :) Cooking should be a lot more fun now.

  7. Callie says:

    Wow, it makes a huge difference! Looks great! Can hardly wait to see the painted upper cabinets with that nice open space. :)

  8. Kate says:

    Wow! What a difference that makes! It looks so bright and open.

  9. Amy says:

    Looks great! I can’t wait to see the painted cabinets.

    On a random note, I was wondering how your Younger couch is holding up? I’m thinking about buying the Younger ‘Julia’.

    • Julia says:

      We love our Lily! I have trimmed a few random strings here and there, but we are actually considering getting another!

  10. jimena says:

    So much better! cant´t wait to see the “new” cabinets, it´s going to feel like a new room!

  11. jimena says:

    So much better! cant´t wait to see the “new” cabinets, it´s going to feel like a new room!

  12. Victoria says:

    Wow! So lovely, open, and fresh. Bravo!

  13. Jennifer @ Brave New Home says:

    Looks good! Our micro is ridiculously low (I think it’s even closer to 12 inches above the oven) and it limits cooking on the stove top especially since only the back burners work. The knives strip definitely helps the space looks more intentional.

  14. Kathryn Ferrie says:

    That looks so much better. That microwave was at a super awkward height! I love the knives and spices there now!

  15. Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse says:

    Yay! Someone else living without a range hood! JUST TODAY I posted about how we blocked off the weird vent/fan (in lieu of a range hood) that had been hidden behind some cabinetry in the kitchen we’re making over. I predicated a chorus of “you need a range hood!” so I explained the same thing: we have a window, we’re good. Now I can say, “Hey, Chris and Julia are major foodies, whipping up amazing dishes, and they live without one too”.

    Hooray for progress, amiright? Can’t wait to see your kitchen when it’s done!

    • Julia says:

      I just read your post right before you commented here! Those turquoise cabinets are so fun and so you, Tanya!

  16. Amanda {NoDak Nest} says:

    Wow! What a difference, great job!

  17. Jennifer R. says:

    This looks so much better!

    The only thing, and it may not matter to you, spices should never be kept in clear bottles out in the open. Sitting in the sun will dilute the flavor and ruin them pretty quickly. Better to be in a drawer or cupboard. But maybe these are just for display and not use.

    • Julia says:

      Good point to bring up! These are Chris’s most used spices (he has at least 20 more in the pantry) that he goes through faster than they could lose potency. But the ones we rarely refill (like saffron) are safely stored away.

  18. Jacqueline says:

    Love how open it looks! Would you mind sharing where you purchased your spice jars? I have been looking for simple, squares ones with no luck.

  19. caitlin says:

    Hallelujah! That looks so much better :)

  20. Meagan Briggs says:

    So open! And I am loving the shelf for your spices! Genius!

  21. Wendy says:

    It looks great! I had a microwave like that when I first moved in to my house and it was miserable! It’s amazing how huge a difference just a couple of inches makes.

    I just wanted to let you guys know, you really inspire me to make sure I do things right – I’m such an impatient DIYer that I’m constantly tempted to skip corners to get to the finished product. Seeing what a different stuff like proper wall repair makes helps me remember to slow down and do it right the first time. Better to take a couple of weekends to finish something up than be stuck with sloppy work for the long haul, right? :)

  22. Emma says:

    That made such a difference, it looks great!!! I have always hated microwaves above the stoves it looks so cramped and you are so right the vents on a microwave never work.

  23. caroline [the diy nurse] says:

    So much better! I’ve wanted to do the same but really don’t have many places to put it [and mine isn’t that low/ I’m short] but this is making me rethink it all- love all that open space!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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