Monday, July 1, 2013

DIY Play Kitchen

This is my first time posting a "How To" so bear with me!

I got a lot of comments on this play kitchen so I thought I would go into some of the detail that went into making it.  (Please excuse the picture quality - the lighting in the basement is not great for photos).

First off was selecting pieces of furniture that I could modify.  While I'm not opposed to starting from scratch, finding cast off furniture is a lot cheaper than buying all the materials new.

My parents had recently purchased a new refrigerator and it was taller than their old one.  The old "above the refrigerator" cabinet no longer fit and I asked if I could re-purpose it for the play kitchen.  Had I not been given this cabinet, I probably could have found one at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for pretty cheap.

I knew that I wanted to turn the cabinet into the sink and range.  I also knew that I wanted a refrigerator as part of the kitchen.  So I hit up craigslist to find an old TV stand.  It didn't take long to find the perfect one - and it was only $10!  So now I had my two major pieces to start with. 

The next step was to go shopping for some of the parts I would need to make it really look like a kitchen.  Besides the faucet (that my mom picked up for me at Construction Junction), I bought everything else on one shopping trip with Samantha.  I was impressed with my finds.

I started at the Goodwill store because I like finding good deals.  I bought the two baskets, "dish rack" and bowl for the sink there.  We also hit up Marshall's (dish towels), Michael's (burners (trophy plaques), oven knobs (wood discs), shelf material (thin plywood)), HomeGoods (oven rack), and Home Depot (handles, oven window (plexiglass), hooks, backsplash material (hardboard)).  Fortunately these are all in the same shopping center right in a row - I didn't even have to get back in the car between stores. 

Once I brought everything together, I laid it out to see how it was going to come together.  This really helped me to visualize how I was going to modify everything to make it work together. 

I was still missing some critical pieces (counter top, etc.) at this point but I knew it would come together in the end.  I disassembled everything and then started marking and cutting.  There was one night with a lot of sawdust while I cut apart the doors for the refrigerator, cut a hole for the oven window, cut out the top of the cabinet for the sink, cut shelf pieces, and cut pieces of square dowel to hold the shelves.

Most of the cutting was done with the miter saw (dowels), circular saw (doors, shelf material), and jigsaw (oven window, sink hole).  I'm just glad Chris watched Samantha while I was making all the noise and dust!

Once the dust settled (literally), I started to make measurements for the pieces I needed to attach.  The first challenge was how to divide the sink/range cabinet.  I used some square dowel attached to the front and back to hold a thin piece of plywood in place. I tried to take pictures of this but it's not easy to see - you'll just have to take my word!

The next step was installing multiple square dowel pieces to hold all the shelves in place.  I pre-drilled to avoid the dowels splitting and then used drywall screws to attach them.  I also used a small level to ensure that the shelves would be level when installed.

Once these first cuts were made and parts were installed, it was time to start painting.  I sanded everything well so that it would accept paint.  Then followed that with primer and paint.  Most of the paint I used was from the "Oops" paint section.  So I got two full gallons of paint for $12 (dark purple and white). 

Hardware was installed next - hinges, handles, etc.  I then made a "toe kick" out of some 2"x4" material.  This raised the whole kitchen off the floor enough to make it easier to use.

I was still without a counter top so I decided to use part of an old door we had lying around.  I made it large enough to add some "counter" space next to the stove.  I cut it to size and then cut out the holes for the sink and faucet.

It still needed a few finishing touches.  A piece of plexiglass was used in the oven door, the stove burners were attached, and the backsplash piece was attached.  The majority of the details were just painted or drawn on with the exception of the "window" which I drew in PowerPoint.   


I also wanted the knobs on the stove to turn so I used some round disks and some small pieces of dowel.  I used the Dremel to notch out an area on the dowel to go over the screw head and then just glued them onto the disks (after they were installed).

And what kitchen would be complete without a place to write down your store list.  I painted an area with chalkboard paint (and I will add a ledge for chalk when she gets old enough to be trusted with it!). 

The only thing left was to stock the kitchen with all the play food and equipment and let her play!

Samantha plays with this every day (for a long duration) so I consider this project a success!!


  1. Wow! What a cute project, very inventive to provide hours or imaginary fun!
    Dee Dee

  2. Wow! That is seriously an awesome project, you've covered every fun element in a kitchen for the little one to get creative in. so great!! thank you so much for linking up to the before and after party!

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