DIY Play Kitchen for Toddlers

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Are you one of those people who acts on impulsive project ideas without any hesitation?  Speaking for myself I can say that this is a blessing and a curse.  I wanted to make a play kitchen for my daughter.  I wanted to make it very badly.  I was not willing to wait until the perfect piece of furniture came into the Habitat for Humanity Resale Store.  So I bought this.

Now it wasn’t the worst thing I could have ended up with but it wasn’t perfect either.  Originally it had  nasty warped pressboard backing which we removed as soon as we got home.  I liked it for its size- smaller than a typical entertainment cabinet and with a nice high storage shelf.

It was small enough for my toddler to get busy with right away.  It was a solid piece of furniture.  It was far more work than I bargained for.December 2012 046

My husband, bless him, rose to the challenge.  Actually, I think he was thrilled to have an opportunity to pull out some power tools.  Who isn’t really? After hours or research on Pinterest I sketched out a design and together we picked up all the necessary odds and ends from around town.  Wooden knobs and foam circles from Lowe’s, a gallon of yellow paint (that’s WAY too much paint by the way), a sturdy board to create a new back, paintbrushes, yellow felt to help soundproof the cabinet doors, a piece of plexiglass pre-cut at the store (Lowe’s again), and tile.

Unfortunately I got excited about this project just after moving across the USA.  Many tools were left behind to save room in the moving truck.  This lWinter 2012-2013 017eft us all dressed up with no where to go, so to speak.  We had to borrow a sander, a saw, and a drill.  This took a bit of time.  We had planned on using Christmas break to get this project finished and our time quickly got sucked up with waiting for our friends to come home from their holiday trips so we could borrow their tools.  When we finally had the tools the weather turned to rain.  This was another setback for our outdoor project.  With no garage we had no place to build a play kitchen except for the real kitchen.  It took 3 coats of yellow paint to transform the entertainment cabinet.  Two of them were done in the kitchen during naptime.  Then we sawed a hole in the counter top and used an old metal bowl for the kitchen sink.  We also bought an old faucet from the Habitat store for a few dollars.  A few drops of clear caulking applied inside the faucet knobs helped a red and blue button stick.  The sink was the easiest part.

I used somWinter 2012-2013 014e craft paint from my collection to paint heating coils on the foam circles from Lowe’s.  This pack of 4 cost around $8.  We debated just making a 2 burner stove for the sake of counter space but we thWinter 2012-2013 016ought that was too limiting.  I applied them to the top of the counter with a hot glue gun.  I hand painted the knobs as well and they were attached loosely and with a washer on the back side so that they could spin around.

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Originally I attached the tile backsplash to the unit using a hot glue gun.  The tiles began to fall off at unfortunate times such as the middle of the night.  When things fall into that metal sink it is LOUD.  So I reattached them all with Gorilla glue.  Unfortunately those are now starting to fall off too.  We didn’t want to have to buy and use grout as the tiles wouldn’t actually be getting wet.  Now however I think it may have been the way to go.

Winter 2012-2013 020The other big mistake we made was in getting this piece of plexiglass in.  It has been a while now but I think we struggled with how to afix the glass to the door.  In the end we put molding all around the back which works but is less than ideal.  We thought about changing the hinges so the door would drop down but since we build it for an 18 month old we were worried about smashed fingers.  Instead we left it as a side-opening oven and she loves it just as much.

Winter 2012-2013 050We drilled two large holes on the sides of the kitchen so that we could thread a dowel through like a shower curtain rod.  I went upstairs to my cloth collection and picked out this polka dot pattern because it wasn’t super girly.  I just cut it to fit the storage shelf, folded one edge over and over again and sewed.  I hemmed the bottom edge and voila!  Hidden storage space for the fake food collection.

Winter 2012-2013 056We have done a few more things to it since we made it last Christmas- we put a tall rectangular board painted with chalkboard paint on one side to act as a daily menu board and we attached a small bar with hooks over the range from which to hang potholders, spatulas, etc.

I bought the blue and yellow basket of groceries from Amazon last Christmas and my daughter walks around the house with it collecting plastic fruit that I’ve hidden.  If we had held out we could have found a used plastic play kitchen at a church yard sale for $40 or less.  That would be much cheaper than what we we paid to do this project.  However we had fun, we learned things, we were able to make it exactly what we wanted and it’s one less plastic thing in our house.

To any one thinking about constructing one of these: Good luck and have fun!

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