For Christmas this year our big present to Jules was her very own play kitchen! A couple of weeks ago I gave a sneak peek on instagram.
DIY play kitchens made from up-cycled nightstands and media centers have become very popular in the past few years, so there is a lot of great inspiration out there!
In November I started to keep my eyes open on Craigslist and local thrift shops for a set of decent nightstands I could turn into a play kitchen. I knew if I didn’t find anything in time I could build one from scratch, but I liked the idea of the added character an old nightstand could give the play kitchen. For our space I wanted two separate pieces, an oven and a sink/food storage area, because I plan to keep it in the dining room most of the time. We spend much of our time there so I knew Jules would get the most use out of it if it were out in the open. However, when we have people over and pull the dining table away from the wall, we’d need to move the play kitchen. I figured having them separate and petite would make it easier. Before too long I found this solid (so I thought) wood side table at Goodwill for $20. The width was right, but it was way too deep. I made sure the back looked good and solid too (instead of having a flimsy piece of wood stapled to it) and decided I’d cut it in half. The drawer side would become the sink unit and the back side would become the oven unit.
Cutting it in half was really easy. I used a combination of our circular saw and jig saw (for right by the edges where the circular saw wouldn’t reach).
One thing I hadn’t thought about was the fact that when I cut it in half, I would need some new feet for the back of each unit (the former middle of the side table).
Easy fix, though. For the new feet I found some 1×3 scraps, traced part of the curvy leg pattern on it, then cut it out with a jigsaw.
I attached the pieces with some pocket-hole screws and the play kitchen had back feet. I also added a piece of 1×2 perpendicular to the 1×3 to give it extra support. Kids can be hard on furniture and I didn’t want it falling apart.
This is pretty much where I stopped taking progress pictures, but I have lots of close-ups of the finished product that will help if you’re making your own play kitchen. From here I had to
- shorten two of the drawers (since they were only going half of the original distance)
- cut holes for the “sink” and faucet
- add a shelf and hinge the top drawer front to act as a door (with the sink going into the top drawer space, a drawer would catch on the sink, so with a shelf much of that space is still useable)
- cut a oven door opening
- make an oven door (I cut a groove in some 1x2s, glued and nailed them together, and glued/caulked plexiglass in place
- add backs to each unit
- make stove burners
When I had the play kitchen put together I primed then painted the body of each unit with a soft blue-mint color (Tranquility by Valspar) I had a test pot of from when Valspar was giving away free samples last year. I chose to paint the oven door and the sink unit drawer fronts white. I thought the two-tone look would be nice plus I wasn’t sure how far the 8 ounces of the colored paint would go.
First up, let’s look at the oven.
I made Jules two “gas stove burners” out of craft wood from Hobby Lobby. I bought a two-pack of 4.5″x4.5″ wood for the base, a four-pack of 1/16th inch balsa wood that I cut into circles, and a piece of 1/4″ square dowel.
I carefully cut notches into the dowel so it would rest over the lip of the larger circle. Before assembling and gluing the pieces together I painted the base part silver and the square dowel pieces black.
Looking back I should have glued everything together before painting because the pieces would have stayed adhered better. I’ve had to re-attach a few already.
When I cut out the space for the oven door I discovered that what I thought was solid wood was actually a veneer, meaning the screws for hinges didn’t have much to grab on to. To help with this problem I cut some spare lattice pieces to frame out the opening. This helped make the exposed edges look nicer and gave the hinges some substance to hold on to.
To make the oven door I made a basic frame out of 1×2 lumber. I used my circular saw to cut a groove into one side and assembled the frame with glue and my brad nailer. I cut a piece of acrylic to fit. I put a bead of caulk around the opening, pressed the acrylic in place, and smoothed another bead of caulk over the top. After letting it dry, the acrylic isn’t going anywhere. Multiple kids have stepped on the center of the open oven door and nothing has happened yet.
I also added to the oven some magnetic closures for the oven door and a large curved stainless pull (clearance purchase from awhile back) across the front of the door.
Next I had to find some wire racks to serve as oven racks. The inside width of the play oven is 15.5 inches and every cookie cooling rack I could find was 16 inches or more. The only smaller one I found was a two-pack at the Dollar Tree. Unfortunately, it was only a foot wide, so it was too small. To fix this, I pulled out my stained glass materials and soldered two of the small cookie trays together so that they made the proper width. If you don’t have soldering material on hand, I think even wrapping duct tape around some of the wire parts would keep them together well.
Another thing I added to the play oven to help make it more “functional” was a $1 LED puck light from the Dollar Tree. I hot glued it to the top of the oven (the adhesive it came with wasn’t strong enough to keep it from falling off). I can still take the light off to replace the battery while the base of the light stays glued in place. It’s hard to tell there’s much light in this picture, but it’s easy to tell in real life.
Okay, next up is the sink/storage unit. This piece has a bit of sentimentality to it. The faucet (no longer functional) was in my in-laws house when they first built it, the stainless bowl my parents have had for as long as I can remember, and the satin nickel cup pulls are left over from when Dylan and I fixed up the kitchen in our first house. Something from each family!
I got the “towel bar” from Lowes…it’s really just a stainless pull from the hardware section.
I used spade bits to cut holes for the faucet and a jig saw to cut the sink hole. I just flipped the bowl upside down, traced around it, and cut about 1/8-1/4″ inside the line to make sure the lip of the bowl would rest on the cut out.
The top “drawer” is really just a shelf now. With the sink bowl keeping the drawer from being functional I decided to ditch the drawer and add a shelf inside instead.
The other two drawers are functional, though, and store lots of play food Jules was given for Christmas from Grandma and Great-Grandma!
There she is, our newest piece of furniture! I look forward to seeing Jules enjoy this kitchen, as well as future kids and grandkids! I hope it holds up over time!