Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Make A Play Kitchen: Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

We recently made a play kitchen for our little girl and what an experience! We wanted to do something that would look nice without the $200 price tag of other wood play kitchens and without the plastic of the $99 made-in-China play kitchens. Here's how we did it along with some tips and ideas on designing your own play kitchen based on our experience.

Note this is not a step-by-step tutorial. We assume that, if you're interested in making a play kitchen, you or someone you know has basic carpentry skills. This is more of an overview for the planning stages that will help you design a play kitchen and be happy with the end result.

  1. Use found materials whenever possible. Visit second hand stores, garage sales or local junkyards to find items for the play kitchen. The hardest thing to find is usually the cabinet that will form the main structure. Old kitchen cabinets or desks work well for this. If you can't find anything suitable, some crafty people have used inexpensive Ikea furniture, but a sturdy piece of plywood will work too so long as you have power tools and know how to use them. (Our kitchen used scrap wood from a painting facility that would have been put in the landfill if we hadn't taken it.)

  2. Make stove burners out of paint can lids or stain wood circles (from a home improvement store) and use those.You can also paint burners on the stove top. Some DIY play kitchen instructions suggest using CDs, which, while attractive, could pose a shattering hazard.

  3. Use a small stainless steel mixing bowl for the sink and a second hand or new (cheap) faucet. Glue both in place with a product called Liquid Nails.

  4. Design the oven door to swing open to the side instead of folding down. Play kitchen oven doors that fold down end up being climbed on and they aren't designed to hold a child's weight. (Ask me how I know!)

  5. Incorporate real kitchen elements such as an egg timer. Glue in place with Liquid Nails glue. (Before gluing anything, lay all the accessories out to be sure they'll fit.)

  6. Obtain handles and knobs from places such as Target, Home Depot or Lowes. You can buy wooden wheels at craft stores to make oven knobs. Don't attach the wheels too tightly, keep them loose so they'll spin.

  7. Be sure to add enough storage space for pots,pans,play food and other accessories. No one likes a small kitchen, even if it's a play kitchen.

Mistakes we made building our play kitchen.

1. The depth was not big enough. We went with 12" when we really should've gone with "16 or "18. With just 12" there's not enough counter space for pretend food prep. In our experience, the best dimensions for a play kitchen are: 26" high (not including back splash) x 30" wide x 16" or 18" deep. The height should be adjusted for your child's height.

Alternatively, look at the dimensions of your dream play kitchen and use those.

2.The oven door fell off due to kids climbing on it. Definitely do a door that swings open to the side. I know I already mentioned this, but it is a huge safety hazard which exposes nails. I don't want anyone to make the same mistake.

3.We used small nails to attach the back and the back fell off as a result. To fix it, we drilled in screws, which is what we recommend using in the first place.

4.Not enough food storage. I would add a shelf over the top of the kitchen for extra storage. While we did an okay job building in enough storage, we're a hair short on space.

Overall, though, our play kitchen has held up and still looks as good as the day Daddy made it.

Have you ever made a play kitchen? Did I miss anything?

1 comment:

  1. i like it! great ideas, thx for sharing.