DIY Play Kitchen

I am not sure now how it all began, but I think it was when I was looking for storage ideas and came across the website www.ana-white.com. I found free plans for all kinds of things that were supposed to be easy and for beginners. I spent some time looking around and came across play kitchens. I had already decided on getting Graham a kitchen for his second birthday, but I wanted something nice. I didn’t want plastic and wood play kitchens are expensive. Finding one the right size was another issue. So I decided to make one. How hard could it be? It wasn’t long after that my sister-in-law sent me a link on pinterest for entertainment center kitchens. Okay, even easier right? I sent the link to a friend and one day she sent me an email about a piece of furniture she found for $25. She got it for me and this is what I started with:

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Not an entertainment stand, but it had potential. It needed a lot of work to be converted so I came up with a plan. I thought about it all the time for days. One day I missed my exit on the beltline because I was mentally trying to plan it out! I would get ideas, look at it, change my mind, think about it some more, make some drawings, think some more, etc. Eventually I made a decision and came up with the plan. I wanted a fridge so I decided to add one onto the side more for storage than anything.  Plus what kitchen doesn’t have a fridge?

The first step was to remove the doors and front pieces. At first I felt really bad about taking apart such a nice piece, but as I worked I found lots of little nicks and scratches so then I wasn’t feeling so bad about converting it. Graham was really interested in helping with his tools. It only took a hour or two to get all the front pieces removed.

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After removing the doors and front pieces.


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Next, Casey cut down the legs for me and I removed the middle shelve. I used the shelf to divide the microwave and oven section from the sink area. At this point I had no idea how to use the circular saw and was pretty nervous about it. Casey showed me how to use it and I started cutting my boards for the fridge. I am not sure if you have tried to cut boards without a guide, but it isn’t easy. Towards the end of the project when we had about 2 things left to cut I came across a guide at Lowe’s. Duh. Seriously. Duh. If we had been smart enough to get one or make one in the beginning it would have saved me a TON of time sanding and re-cutting boards by the smallest amount so they would fit. While my early boards were measured correctly most weren’t perfectly straight and were off just enough that the fridge and freezer doors didn’t fit correctly. A problem I decided to deal with later. So I continued on the main piece removing the top, bead board backing and adding on the microwave area. The plans on Ana’s site said to nail the piece together and use wood glue so this is how I started. The first piece I did was the 1×2 on the top of the microwave. I quickly learned that I am not good at hammering and I thought the piece was going to fall apart each time I hit it. I didn’t have a nail gun and buying one was going to be expensive so I decided to go with pocket holes. I had read about the Kreg Jig for pocket holes on her site and it was going to be about $40 to get one. I liked the idea a lot better because there would be no nail or screw holes to fill in later. It took me a little practice, but quickly figured out how to drill the holes. It was at that point I realized our two clamps were not made for this type of work. They were small and moved easily. Not to mention I had to assemble several large pieces and Casey was out of town. Having worked on a previous project we quickly realized that one person trying to hold while the other one works isn’t the best plan either. So off I went to Lowe’s to buy over $60 worth of clamps. Yes, $60 for 4 clamps. Two large Bessy clamps and two right angle clamps. When Casey came home and saw the big ones he made a comment about those cheap plastic clamps and was dogging them. By the end of the project he was talking about how great they are, the best clamps, so glad we have them. So they were worth the money for sure and will be used a lot. At this point I had purchased $100 worth of new tools for the project. So much for keeping it cheap. I also started filling in the holes from when I took the piece apart. As you can see from the pictures below I attached the microwave door which I later had to remove and re-size…. many times.

Learning to use the circular saw.


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Putting the fridge together minus two shelves I had to sand to fit.


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Fridge frame done.


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Main piece with microwave area and filling in holes to sand later.


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So, at this point the fridge doors didn’t fit. We sanded and sanded them until they fit and I think the freezer door I actually re-cut the tiniest amount so it would fit. It was also really wobbly and not level since the boards weren’t cut properly. So I decided to focus on the main section for awhile since there wasn’t much left to do with the fridge and sanding was taking forever. By the time I cut the pieces for the oven door I had the guide so I was able to get them pretty square, but the wood around them wasn’t square. I had to mess around with all the surrounding pieces a lot to get them somewhat level so the oven door would fit. We didn’t account for the the space the hinges would take so we had to move things around some resulting in the microwave door needing to be sanded a lot. Luckily we already had an electric sander. After many nights in the garage I finally had the pieces together. Casey cut the hole for the sink because I was too nervous to do it. Plus if he messed it up I had someone to blame other than myself. The sink is a dog bowl that I got at the pet store. The faucet is from the Habitat Restore and was $5. We cut the hole for that too and when we did we realized the drill was hitting against a 1×2 in the back which helps keep the unit together. Remember this piece as it will come up again later…. Now she was ready for sanding.

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Graham helping cut the holes for the sink and helping me sand. He loves tools.
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So it looks like it is pretty close to being done at this point, but it would be weeks until it was completed. One thing I learned is that you can’t sand too much. Well, you probably can, but when in doubt sand a little more. I did a lot of sanding and then I had to prime. I didn’t want to assemble the piece until it was sanded, primed and had a first coat of paint.

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At this point I had about a week to get it done. It didn’t really matter if it wasn’t done on time, but I wanted it done. I had to give myself a deadline so I would just do it. I spent every night working on it for hours. A couple nights before the big reveal after the first coat of paint we were putting it all together and I had clamped the top to hold the piece steady while we added the sink shelf.  When I removed the clamp the paint came off with it. In big pieces like a balloon. I have painted a lot of stuff in my life and I have never once seen something like this. Needless to say I was about to cry. Luckily, it was only the top that didn’t adhere correctly. This night we also realized that the microwave door was once again not fitting and in need of sanding as was part of the oven door and a few spots on the fridge doors. It was not a good night.

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The next night we managed to get all the doors, hinges and pulls on. It is amazing how long it takes to do the most simple task. The hinges on the fridge and freezer door weren’t easy and I recruited Casey to put all the doors on for me. There are just certain things men can do better. I don’t have the strength to screw something straight! When we went to put the faucet in I realized that I couldn’t screw on the plastic pieces to hold it in place because of the 1×2 in the back that I mentioned earlier. So we tried gluing it which lasted about 2 days. The sink is not glued down in case it gets filled with real water or other real things that need to be cleaned out. Now it was up to me to re-prime the top, paint another coat on the whole thing, attach the backing and add all the details. Oh, and we decided to screw the fridge to the main piece to make it steadier. I think it was a great idea and really made the piece come together. Of course that also meant cutting the top of the main piece, but it was worth it.

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The burners are those plastic wall covers you put on the wall to prevent holes when you bang the door into the wall. I looked everywhere for something to use for the burners and nothing was the right size. I came across these in Home Depot and they were the perfect sizes. The large ones are 5 inches and the smaller are just over 3 inches. The knobs are wood knobs that are primed and painted. The burners and knobs were painted with spray paint first, but I didn’t like the look so I put some acrylic paint over them. I tried three different things on the knobs and finally decided on the HI MED and LO. So I painted the knobs several times. I painted the black on the oven door by hand with acrylic craft paint and also the buttons and time. The time on the microwave is the time Graham was born. Here’s hoping if we have another child one day he or she is born at the same time. What are the chances….

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I decided to add push lights to the oven and microwave which has been a huge hit. He loves to turn on the oven and microwave. Thank goodness my mom can sew because that is one craft I have not mastered. She made the sink curtain for me and also pot holder, an apron and chef hat.

I have been collecting kitchen stuff at consignment sales for the last year so had some great stuff to stock the kitchen.


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The oven shelf with baking cookies.


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A fridge FULL of food and some condiments in the freezer.


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Making pizza.


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The apron mom made for him which he has yet to wear. I am going to put on an apron when I cook so he will start wearing his too.


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Here is everything we bought for the project. It took just under two months to finish.

Furniture $25
Wood for fridge and pieces added to the main piece, we used the cheapest wood available $52
Oven pull from Lowe’s $5
Microwave pull from Lowe’s $1
Fridge handle from Wal-Mart online $5 (a super good deal for one this size, it was on sale)
Freezer handle from Home Depot to match the one from Wal-Mart $6
Four hinges for fridge and freezer $15
Four hinges for oven and microwave $4
Four magnet catches for doors $5
Four knobs from Home Depot $5
Stove burners from Home Depot $11
Two tap lights from Target $6
Faucet from Habitat $5
Sink bowl from Phydeaux $6
Two spray cans of primer $11
One quart of paint from Home Depot $13
Hooks for oven mitts and apron $3
Plexiglass for oven door $2

Total for Kitchen $180

Kreg Jig and screws $47
Four new clamps $64
Square cut guide $12
Sandpaper $12
Wood filler $3
Gorilla glue $3

Additional supplies that we can use on other projects $141

So we spent almost as much on tools and supplies!  Grand total of $321.  Lesson here is when you see plans and websites where people make awesome things for $30 don’t believe them.  They clearly already have a wood shop full of supplies, scrap wood or have found super awesome deals.  Have I learned my lesson?  Of course not.  Already planning the next project.  More details to come in a few weeks!

4 Comments

  1. Gary Scott

    Lindsay . . . you are AMAZING !!

  2. Morgan

    Lindsay you rock! That is the cutest thing I have ever seen. I am almost motivated to give it a try… by the way you look super tough with the saw.

  3. You are Super Woman!
    I admire you and all your talents!!

  4. Amanda

    This is just magnificent…I love all the details, the time you chose and the color you chose. So worth every cent. Great work!

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