adding open shelving & hiding the microwave

by | Sep 4, 2017 | Kitchen, My House | 37 comments

In my post about the pot rack, you could see the new open shelving in the background…

When I first spotted this somewhat awkward alcove, I immediately thought it was begging for some shelves.

And I realized once we were unpacking that I was really missing some open shelving in this kitchen!

It was one of the projects on my list to complete during the two days my brother came to visit.  Late one night, we talked about possible ways to install the shelves…floating, bracketed, built-in, etc.  We also checked out the space in more detail to see what ideas would actually be possible.  It turns out that there are only studs at the back corners of the cubby, so any shelving had to be mounted there, not the back center or the sides.  There just wasn’t anything to screw into, but drywall.

After over-complicating things, we balled up the plans and just decided to do 2″ x 12″ shelves with simple metal brackets.  I felt like the brackets would visually disappear once the shelves were painted and styled.

It’s a good thing we took the simple route, because these are some wonky walls!  Nothing is plumb or square, so each shelf had to be custom-cut to fit the exact space.


Of course, they still need to be painted and I need to put something on the top shelf, but I love how they transformed that little nook, making it functional and visually more interesting.

Now, it probably would’ve been smarter to paint everything and then install shelves, but when you have a house full of family there to complete projects, you just put the cart before the horse and sort it out later.

I cannot wait to paint this kitchen!  Right now, the walls and the trim are a pale beige/off white that almost has a pinkish cast.  I’m really missing the contrast a bright white trim offers, too.  I’m going to paint the walls in Pearly White by Sherwin Williams (mixed in Aura by Benjamin Moore) and the trim will be All White by Farrow & Ball.  You can see a swatch I painted on the left side of the laundry room door frame.

Well, you can sort of see it!  The wall color is the same value, but just a cooler white.  The trim is more noticeable.  It’s one of those changes that looks subtle as you’re painting it on, but then you realize the whole effect makes the room look entirely different.

I plan to start painting the cabinets and more of the walls and trim this week.  It will be exciting!!

While we’re talking about the kitchen, I wanted to share where we put the microwave!

Yep, it’s in the pantry.  Yes, we have to keep the doors open while we’re using the microwave, but it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make to keep the microwave off the counter.  Maybe somewhere down the road we can build it in somewhere, but this is a great solution until that day (which may never come).

First, we made sure the shelf could support the weight of the microwave.  These are heavy-duty slides, so that wasn’t a problem.  (In our last house, the slides were not very sturdy and they kept falling if we put on too many can goods!  We installed new slides that would hold more weight.  Fortunately, these are already upgraded.)  Jeff did make one modification, though, and he cut off the front of the shelf, so we could open the microwave door.

Now, we had to figure out how to get power to the microwave.  We actually had outlets on top of the cabinets for lights, so we drilled a couple of holes through the upper cabinets and ran a cord to that outlet.

I’ll admit, it is a bit of a pain to have the doors open while microwaving something, but this isn’t the 1980’s when I’m using my Microwave Cookbook to cook a roast for 45 minutes.  We just use it for a few minutes here and there to thaw a bagel, steam some veggies, or heat up leftovers.  We can deal.

Oh, I was going to say to check out my Instagram stories for updates, but many of you mentioned that you didn’t know how to do that.  I did a bit of research and there is a way you can watch them from your computer.  I found an extension you can add if you use Google Chrome as your browser.  Just click HERE to go to the Chrome Store to install it.  I did it on my computer and it’s much better than viewing on the phone.  You can also search for specific people’s Stories, which is a nice feature.  It looks like this…

I share a lot more of this-and-that kind of things on the Stories and also what I’m up to for the day, if you’re interested!



  1. Karen L.

    The first person I saw putting their microwave in the pantry was YHL’s, Sherri and John Petersik. They loved it and relished it not being visible as they didn’t use it for much on a day-to-day basis. I can understand that totally for your style especially! Looks so nice.

  2. Jane

    Great job on the shelves. Good for you for taking the bracket route. I probably would have over complicated the project & then be unhappy with the results. Hope I can remember your project, next time I’m faced with something similar. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

  3. Teresa

    What a great idea for dead space! I also love the pull out shelving and really need to think about installing them in my pantry.

  4. Rebecca

    Hi Marian, first time commenting – I love watching the process of transforming your home and especially the kitchen. Could you please tell me the width of your kitchen? I have a doorway and window and pantries in the same spots as yours and would prefer an island to the u shape I currently have but I thought the island would be too small (narrow), you seem to have enough space around the island and it seems to complement the size of the room really well. It is going to look really lovely painted, can’t wait.

  5. Linda

    I love the new shelving that you did and once it’s all painted in the new colors then it will really stand out! Good job on finding a place for your microwave too. Now you’ve got more counter space for other things.

  6. Debbie V.

    I love your little nook and shelving but I really love your house and am enjoying all of your updates!

  7. Finch Furnishings

    We have our microwave in the pantry, too! Our tiny 1960s kitchen has zero room for it, so this was the easy solution. I love having it out of sight. One of these days we need to get an electrician to actually install a plug in there – for now we just have an extension cord peeking out of the bottom for about 8 inches until it tucks behind the fridge.

  8. Nicola Dodd

    We have our microwave in a pantry cupboard too. We asked or carpenter to cut a quatrefoil shape out of the cupboard doors – inspired by a French shutter, but any shape would work – which we backed with zinc mesh. It’s added a really lovely feature to our off-the-shelf cabinets and might suit your pantry cupboard too, as you’re going to paint it.

    Thanks for sharing your amazing progress in your new home, I’ve really enjoyed your posts xx

  9. Gina

    Marian – love the containers for your dry goods in the pantry (with white lids). Can you please tell me what they are and where you got them? Looking forward to seeing each step you make in your new home.

  10. Liz

    You are so organized! I can’t believe how much you’ve accomplished in such a short time. Great idea putting those shelves in. That void was useless before. In my opinion a kitchen can never have too much storage space. You mentioned in your pot rack post that many of your copper pots need re-tinning. I’ve used East Coast Tinning in Rhode Island ( Ship them a piece and they send it back looking better than new. They do amazing work.

  11. Denette

    What do you think that little alcove was meant for? It can’t be structural since it doesn’t have the studs for it. It is so small and sticks into the room with no clear purpose. Any guess what was intended? Using it for the open shelves is a great way to add shelving and purpose to that space.

  12. Julie

    Gosh that is such a great use of the alcove, which had no real purpose before!! Wonderful I love the look

  13. Kim P

    Such a wonderful kitchen ur making it great ! Id love to have my.microwave lower, it’s over the stove .

  14. Lelanie

    I’m really curious to see how the kitchen will look painted. Loving the look so far!

  15. Mary Kay

    Marian, may I ask how you keep your copper pots so nice and shiny?

  16. Donna

    Is you microwave too big for the alcove? That would be a perfect spot.

    • Marian Parsons

      yes, it’s too deep and there isn’t an outlet there.

  17. Debbie Trafton O'Neal

    Marian, I am enjoying watching this transformation! I put my microwave into a deep cupboard much like yours about 5 years ago – just over the stove because I have cool cabinets and didn’t want to redo the wall with a double oven – and we love it there! It’s such a nice tool to have in the kitchen but not to look at. Yeah for more counterspace!

  18. Chris

    Reading your posts at the end of the day are just a treat! Glad to “see” all of you seem to be transitioning beautifully into your new community. I enjoyed even seeing pictures of your mom and dad already on the scene loving your family through the move. I love the look of your painted shelving to the right of your fireplace and that scale on the center of your countertop makes your kitchen just smile! And that blue tin looking lunchbox next to your cookbooks… WOW!
    Anyway, the barn continues to get closer to completion and each wedding weekend brings forth delightful people. We’re thankful for each new family!
    I am wondering… will you put old things on top of your kitchen cabinets or do you prefer the open space?

    Chris at Zion Springs

  19. Leslie

    Thank you! We put our microwave in our pantry and my husband thinks it’s the weirdest thing (not to mention people who are visiting that are looking for it!) I love that it’s handy and out of sight! AND if MMS is doing it, then it MUST be ok! Can’t wait to show my husband this post, ha!

  20. Jan Schouw

    Love the shelves, would love to have a space in my kitchen for some. Great job!

  21. Mimi Forsell

    I love how neat and tidy you are. Such inspiration thank you!

  22. Denise

    I also keep microwave in pantry…no need more clutter on counters. Enjoy watching the renovations and improvements!

  23. Sheila

    Love the hints for using Instagram!. Keep them and all other tech stuff coming!

  24. Patti Duerkop

    Have enjoyed watching you settle in your new home..also enjoyed your comments on Orinoco. A fun place to be as a seller or a buyer!! Have you had time to take any day trips? You’ll have yo visit Ansgar, Iowa…..south out of Austin, MN on Highway 218. Wonderful Home Decor Shop…..Home Sweet Home….Lovely things, Lovely people! Purchased a wonderful cow poster!

  25. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    The shelves are a great use of the space and visually so appealing too.

    Putting your microwave in the pantry is a great idea, Marian! Once your microwave is out of the way like that, I bet you’ll find you use it less and less… that was my experience. I ended up putting it in the basement kitchen for guests and so it was available if I needed it, but except for that rare craft or chocolate melting thing, it just sat. Personally, I now find it just as quick to heat something on the stove and I don’t like the texture of a lot of microwaved foods now. It will be interesting to see how that plays out for you.

    You are moving fast at transforming your house into your home. It’s so fun to “hear” you process it and see the results.

    • Marian Parsons

      When we lived in a 1000 square foot townhouse with very little counter space, we decided to not even have a microwave, so we didn’t have one for 2 years. It took some getting used to, but we just heated everything on the stove-top or in the oven. I had to plan out heating up leftovers a bit better, though!

  26. Carolee

    When we built our home 12 years ago I had electrical outlets placed in the kitchen pantry for the sole purpose of the microwave being placed there. I loved it then and love it still. I hated the microwave taking up space on my counter. I also had electrical outlets installed above my kitchen cabinets for lighting etc.

  27. Diane Bennett

    I’m new to following you and what I have seen so far I love. Great job with the shelves!

  28. Becky

    The shelves look great. Functional and beautiful. I don’t really understand the original purpose of the alcove so I think you’ve given it purpose now. Looks like it belongs now.

  29. JC at the uncommon pearl

    You are adding such charm, Marian. I love the alcove. I’m excited to see the painting!

  30. Beth Norwood

    Great Idea! I have followed you for many years and I must say- I love that your cheeky sense of humor has seemed to bloom with your move. I love it! I can remember our microwave growing up was about the size of China.
    I am so excited about your new adventure!

  31. Cheryl

    It’s unfortunate there wasn’t power in your alcove that you could have put your microwave on. 🙁
    I like the raw wood look on your shelves. I think it goes well with your table. It’s a beautiful kitchen!
    My sister-in-law built a house and she had them put her built-in oven in her small walk-in kitchen closet/pantry cause she didn’t want it heating up the kitchen when she used it!

  32. Debbie Lorson

    Your open shelving look great. I have a question from the IG picture of your dental cabinet. Back by the door you have something hanging with wood slats. What is that item. I have something very similar but it was given to me and I have no idea what it is. Thanks so much.

  33. Anna

    I’m all in on the microwave being hidden in the pantry. 🙂 One of my decorating clients insisted the computer be in her dining area so she could keep an eye on her kid’s activity. But I wasn’t keen on having it (not just a laptop) so “out there” sorta messing up my design. 😉 Soooooo…….

    We did pretty much the same thing with the computer (inside a huge built in, in the dining room) that you did with your microwave. It was on a pull out shelf too making it super easy to access.

    And you’re so right: today’s use of microwaves is mostly just for reheating, etc. I love your solution!

    The shelves in the nook? Fabulous!

  34. RIchard Burns

    Wow, such an artist! You put an awesome work. That painted shelves though 😀

  35. Madeline Simes

    Loved reading this. The job looks like it took a long time to finish. Great ideas and can’t wait for more content from you! 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

decorating, projects, and recipes for winter


Articles by Date


our sponsors

Bliss and Tell Branding Company