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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Homemade Play Kitchen

At the beginning of this year, I decided I wanted to build a play kitchen for Eric's niece Abby who had just come to live with Eric's parents. Abby was turning 3 in late May so she was a great age for it and it gave me a few months time. I remember loving my play kitchen as a child which may have helped contribute to my love of cooking. (Although I think I may have also had a play vacuum and I certainly don't love vacuuming) I had seen a few homemade play kitchens around blogland that really helped with the process such as Out of the Crayon Box and I had a vision of what I wanted it to look like and I knew I wanted to be thrifty making it. So here is how I tackled my first DIY project :)

I took a $10 ugly but functional thrift store nightstand (honestly I probably could have found one cheaper than that but I went with it because I wanted to have plenty of time since I had no clue what I was getting myself into to get it just right).

And turned it into a homemade play kitchen!!! Complete with a magnetic chalkboard! And hooks for an apron, chef's hat, reversible shopping tote, and cupcake-shaped pot holder (these were sewn/made by my godmother Peggy because she is SUPER crafty and has the talent and sewing machine to make these)!

Here are some steps from along the way. I did leverage the blog referenced above because there is a great tutorial there although I think every play kitchen is different - dependent on what nightstand you start with.

The nightstand was a bit challenging to take apart due to its dovetailed and peg-like construction but it finally surrendered to my force... well perhaps the hammer helped.

First I had Eric cut a hole for the sink with his new jigsaw. We measured the dog bowl I bought at the dollar store to know how big to make it. He was happy to get a new tool out of my project and I didn't feel comfortable trying to use a saw for the first time to get the hole right (altho I did make him practice on a scrap piece of wood first). And it fits!

Next I primed all the pieces I wanted to use in some way for the kitchen. We had to buy a really thin piece of plywood to use for the bottom of the kitchen and for the bottom of the oven (separating the oven and the storage area)

I painted it a cotton candy pink color - Abby's favorite color is pink so that was a given. Did you know there is an Oops shelf at HD and Lowes with discounted paint where the color wasn't to the buyer's liking. This one was a gallon for $5 at Lowes and it happened to be oil based - a pain since it takes so long to dry but very durable. Before painting I had Eric cut a square one drawer front to be the oven "window" and to get rid of the ugly gold handle.

I painted the insides of the oven with black craft paint and painted the faucet-wooden letter J, sink knobs- wooden people, and burner knobs- diet coke plastic tops with silver craft paint. As you can see one board is only painted halfway - this is the back of the oven so the bottom half will be painted pink for the back of the storage area under the oven.

I painted the other half of the board pink and did some touchups.

Then we (Eric helped) put on the hutch piece secured with  little L brackets to the base and bracket for the shelf (unpainted at the time). The hutch was one of the nightstand drawers minus the drawer front and its shelf was a leftover piece of wood.

Next came the most challenging task of all: the oven door (one of the nightstand drawer fronts) We attached the oven door hinges probably at least 10 different times trying to get the door to fit and shut and open properly and we even tried bigger hinges. Many times the oven door would open too far, or not far enough, or there would be a big gap at the top. Finally we had to let the hinges guide where the door needed to fit on the kitchen at and needed to cut down the door by about an inch. There is a very small gap where the hinges are but I am OK with that. Thank goodness for wood filler!

After that I traced rolls of tape for the burners and painted them with gray craft paint.

Then the dowel and curtain and door handle were put on. My mom made the curtain out of cupcake material I picked out... it was a lighter shade of pink and perfect for a kitchen, who doesn't like cupcakes?! I also glued, well attempted to glue the sink in... because of the shape of the rim on the bowl the only thing that would work in the end was tape under the rim.

I added the faucet (glued), sink knobs and burner knobs (screwed in so they could turn).

I borrowedtook a clear plastic folder from work to put on the inside of the oven "window" and also secured top of the oven door with velcro dots. I glued on little cut up dowel pieces I had painted black to the burners for that real burner feel. It's kinda hard to see below but I also wrote H, M, and L on each burner knob for high, medium, and low.

Then I did a little more touching up, wrote Abby a message on the back of the hutch, and sprayed it down a couple times with a clear protective coat.

Meanwhile I had been also been working on the magnetic chalkboard. I bought small sheet of metal for like $4 at HD and sprayed it with a couple coats of Chalkboard paint. The corners were sharp so I covered them with sticky tack and added a hem tape/ribbon border complete with button bows made by my mom. I attached it to the left side of the kitchen with gorilla glue.. pretty strong stuff.

this is the strong stuff
gorilla glue- this is the strong stuff!

Since it had to travel in the car on its side, I attached the adhesive hooks to the right side of the kitchen once we got to Eric's parents for Abby's (belated) birthday dinner this past weekend - this was the first weekend that his parents, us, and Eric's brother Keith and his wife Megan could all get together. I hadn't told Eric's parents what I was working on in case it failed miserably so it could be a surprise. I did tell Keith and Megan about it so they could get Abby all kinds of kitchen items/play food for their present. Here are some pictures from the play kitchen revealing!

Here she is all dressed up in her apron and hat, PRICELESS! Peggy also made her a play cake that said Happy Birthday Abby and she LOVED it! Look out Top Chef 2030!

She had so much fun and I think I had just as much playing kitchen as she did! She made a shopping list and sautéd a donut, hamburger, and fries, delish! And she even let me be sous chef for awhile and wear her hat.

So Abby's homemade play kitchen and my first DIY project was a big success! I am really proud of this kitchen because I did it all by myself (minus a few powertool things) AND I had a vision for that old nightstand and I think it came out pretty darn fantastic! I did spend a lot of time on it but the nightstand and materials used for the kitchen were around$40 so pretty thrifty. I hope it's something she can play with and love for years to come. I had a great time making the kitchen even with some challenges and I would definitely make one again!

Now all Abby needs is someone to wash those dishes for her :)

I will be linking up here:

504 Main


  1. that is sooo cute! i love the hinged door you added, and the color is adorable. great work!

  2. so cute! ya'll did a great job. Love that you wrote on it. I do the same thing!

  3. It turned out awesome!! Love the drawer as hutch idea. I am going to do that on my next one. Goodness knows I have quite a few leftover drawers. I bet your inlaws were really impressed! Big score all the way around. Also, I love your blog background. What a cool collage!

  4. It turned out perfect. You guys did such a great job. What a lucky little girl!

  5. it is adorable, great job! Great pictures of your little niece playing with it, she looks very happy!

  6. That is SO stinkin' cute!! Great job! I am visiting from Santas Workshop blog hop and thought Id say Hi! Come visit some time!

  7. you go girl! That looks awesome!

  8. how cute!! i love love love it!! you did a great job!

  9. OK - that is TOO CUTE! I'm putting it in the Spotlight at the PoPP on Saturday.

  10. This is amazing!! How clever & what a lot of work! Super impressed; I will have to keep my eyes open for something similar for my daughters. Have a wonderful day!

  11. That is better than any kitchen you guy buy at Toys R Us. What a great idea and a real labor of LOVE!!! Thanks for sharing.

  12. OMGosh, this is adorable. I'm sure Abby will have hours of fun playing with this. Great job!

  13. I just bought a similar nightstand to make one of these for my kids. I'm excited. You did a great job with yours!

  14. No wonder you won the Silver Garland Award - you are so clever, dedicated and loving. This whole project brought a huge smile to my face. Especially love the pictures of Emily with the chef's hate and interacting with Emily. You are a very special person and this project shows how extraordinary you are. Eric is also a wonderful guy to add his touch to this creation.

  15. That is seriously FABULOUS! What little girl wouldn't love such a wonderful play kitchen. You are so clever and creative! Thanks for linking to the DIY Club!

  16. I think the kitchen turned out beautifully! You are so nice to go to all that work for her. She looked just beautiful in the hat and apron!

  17. omg!!! so so so so cute!! i completely love it!! i think i'll start looking for my daughter - she's 9 mo now. i'm gathering scraps and stuff to make her pastries, goodies, fruits and veggies to go with a stuffed tea set i bought her. she'll probably get it next year - a cute kitchen would be great to go with it!! thank you so much for the "tutorial"!

  18. I think you win Aunt of the Year with this gift! How fantastic!!! Thanks for linking up :).

  19. This is so great! I have an old shabby chic end table that I hope to transform like this for my daughter's birthday in March:) This is exactly what I had in my thanks for sharing your tutorial!

  20. I agree with all the comments; nothing could beat that kitchen...made with love and totally pink from her obviously favorite Auntie ;) What a lucky little girl to have such dedicated, thoughtful and completely cool people in her life ;)

  21. OI Emily, coloquei sua reforma no meu blog e espero que não se importe. O seu blog é lindo!

  22. I love this!!!


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