Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DIY a personalized play kitchen, for super cheap!!!

My son absolutely loved "testing" the play kitchens in stores. He would mock what I did in our actual kitchen and sometimes it was quite difficult to persuade him to walk away. So instead of dishing out the hefty price for some of the more "extravagant" play kitchens, I decided to create a personalized one just for my son, because heck yes!

Let me say this right now. Finishing this project was not a quick one, only because I was incredibly picky with the colors, furniture pieces, and finishing touches. I went out searching at garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores, to find the pieces I felt were best suited to create a kitchen that would suit my son for years. I ended up going with an old wooden filing cabinet (yard sale $3) and a small rolling microwave/TV stand with a shelf on the bottom (Goodwill, $5). Then, I decided on a color scheme. I wanted something bright but not crazy, so I chose to go with green accents. 

My first step was to partially disassemble the filing cabinet. I simply took off the front wooden panels and threw away the bars on top (which hung the files in place), leaving the actual drawers to remain sliding out. Due to the filing cabinet being semi deep, I wanted my son to be able to see all his "groceries", so the slide out feature was a necessity for this kitchen. After the filing cabinet was ready, I simply grabbed a cheap small $2 can of "oops" paint at Home Depot, (I guess they wanted eggshell, not bright white. I don't know, but one man's trash is this momma's treasure.) and began painting the entire outside and inside white. Anywhere that was visible, was painted. Once it was completely painted with one coat, I let it air dry for a couple hours, then did about 1 more coat. I wanted to keep some of the wood texture visible, without overlaying the paint. I purchased two 2oz. Craft Smart Outdoor Acrylic Paint from Michael's (it needed to stand up to a toddler) in green, found HERE. I proceeded to paint both the pull out drawers green on the inside, giving it a pop of color, and allowed it to air dry with the filing cabinet overnight. 

The next day, I reassembled the filing cabinet and faced my first dilemma. I wasn't sure if I wanted to create traditional "fridge doors", as I was concerned my son would slam them too hard. So I went IKEA and chose to purchase the Variera Drawer Mat, found HERE, to use for the "fridge doors" and to use for the backing of the "stove/oven" (TV stand). The entire roll of Variera, is 59 1/4" long, so I had plenty to measure and cur for this project. It ended up working out perfectly, with very little left over. I simply screwed the plastic drawer mat on the top of both corners, to the filing cabinet, one square for each drawer, with a very small frame screw. (Any bigger of a screw and I think the wood would've cracked.) For the back of the TV stand, I simply nailed it all around, with small nails. Again, small enough so the wood won't crack. 

The main foundation of our personalized kitchen has been completed! Now for the details and extras. 

Inside the filing cabinet on the back of the drawer, I used thumbtacks to hang Dollar Tree click lights. You know, the ones where you press them to turn on and off. They also turn off by themselves after a while. I did this so my son would be able to have the feeling of a fridge light. Like I've said before, it's the little things people. 

For the oven/stove, I sketched out 4 "burners" and used left over white paint to make 3 of them appear "off". I had some red Craft Smart paint from Michael's left over from a previous project, to paint 1 burner to appear "on". (You can find the red paint HERE). To create the "faucet", I purchased a letter "J" (mine happened to be on sale for $1 at Michael's, which happens often), turned in upside down, painted it white (they do come pre-painted), and glued it on using some Gorilla Wood glue my father had. This made for the perfect faucet look. To create the illusion of knobs for both the "sink" and the "stove top", sticking with my green accents theme, I purchased a pack of 6 green kitchen knobs from IKEA (found HERE), for only $1.99. (I haven't seen the particular one's I chose in stores recently, but they do have multiple options in color.) I just screwed these bad boys in the with the given screws and now my son can "turn on" the sink and stove top. For under the "sink" and "stove", I used a small tension rod in white, and created 2 curtains out of 2 green fabric place mats I found in IKEA's clearance section for 50 cents each. On the side of the TV stand, I screwed in 4 hook screws (found at Lowe's, but any small hook screws will do) to hang my son's cooking utensils and pretend cutting board. 

And there you have it. One personalized kitchen for a simple boy who loves to pretend cook. When I showed the finished project to him - he was apart of it, he just didn't know what I was doing - he was so happy. We added his little microwave that actually spins the food, beeps, and lights up (Toy's R US - Just like home, brand), all his utensils/plates (found at IKEA), his grocery collection, his mini cooking pots/pans (also IKEA), and a little muffin tin on top of a mini "rack" I found in an IKEA clearance bin as well, to create the idea of an oven. I even hung up a Dollar Tree shower storage, to hold his salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, dust pan, broom, and hand towel. You know, the essentials to any good kitchen. To commemorate the finishing of his kitchen, I sewed/cut a chef's apron for my son, out of a men's Dollar Tree t-shirt. Simply cut out the outline, leaving the neck portion completely intact, and use the extra fabric to sew on "strings". 

Overall I think it turned out awesome. You may be wondering, "but what about the sink?". Well, I didn't want to cut into the actual TV stand, as I was worried the wood wouldn't hold up. So I made it like a "above counter" sink. It makes it more unique I think. My son's happy, this momma's happy, and my wallet's happy. So basically it's a win all around, what's more awesome than that?!

I hope this truly inspires you to create your very own masterpiece, instead of paying big bucks for something that wont last forever. You can find a TON of inspiration on Pinterest. I've seen so many people make amazing play kitchens from old entertainment centers. I find that my son tends to treasure the things he helps make, rather than the toys he buys in stores. So why not make a couple memories and save some money while you're doing it!

Happy cooking!

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