DIY Play Kitchen, from a reclaimed cabinet

Mostly thanks to Pinterest, this idea popped into my head. I became obessed. And I saw pictures of how other seemingly normal, non-carpentery people like myself have DIYed a play kitchen. So, that means that I can, too, right??

Here is mine and Viddy’s story, pictures (I’m not a photographer, no judging on my phone photos), tips and suggestions for doing a play kitchen from a cabinet. If you choose to take on a project like this, I hope you have patience, and lots of gas in your car to go to the hardware store.

I scoped out cabinets. After perusing pinterest and google images I knew what I wanted and needed. But I had to FIND it. I searched on craigslist for end tables and cabinets and even microwave stands trying to find something that would work for me. I wanted to alter it minimally. Finally I went to ReStore – the Salvation Army of home appliances, hardware – cabinets and lights and doors and windows and molding and tables and chairs and everything else you need. And I found it. I found the ONE. And they were $10 each. SCORE. Also at ReStore I found a small metal bowl for my sink, wood handles for my oven, and a faucet. The faucet didn’t have the little thing that moves the drain up and down, so it was discounted. But what did I or Lulu care about a drain thing?

(photo of the original cabinets, when it finds its way from the interwebs to my email)

My next stop was Home Depot. I bought some MDF board for the countertop. It was sturdy, cheap, no splinters. I also bought primer, red paint, cream paint, sand paper, wood putty, painters tape, the cheesey sticky cloth stuff to take off dust, Magnetic paint ($$), foam brushes, foam rollers, trays.

From Target I bought the black inside sink flat dish rack that I used as an oven rack and the touch light that I painted red with nail polish for an oven light.

From Amazon I bought magnet closures (also available at Home Depot) for the oven and replacement oven knobs.

Michael’s supplied the high gloss paint sealer for the oven and stovetop, scrapbook paper and Modge Podge for the back of the fridge/cabinet.

Honestly, with the paint and hardware and time – this wasn’t cheaper than buying a play kitchen. I could have gotten a Fisher Price play kitchen from craigslist for less. Maybe much less. But it wasn’t what I wanted. And this kitchen was my post-school, entering new job, stressed out of my mind therapy. And it cost less to do this than pharmaceuticals and therapy. (Now I’m happy and well adjusted to working, FYI). I know and read about some people who did this whole project for $20 or something because they had the cabinets, paint, hardware, etc. But that wasn’t me.

Viddy, my kind, loving, patient, supportive-of-my-crazy-ideas husband, did all the drilling and hardware support. He is a man who loves him some power tools and any chance to use them.

So, the actual steps I took. More or less.

1. Detached the doors and took off the hardware

2. Sanded the whole dang thing (next time I would skip this – especially on particle board and just prime with a primer that is made to do that)

Doors off and sanded. The circles for the stove were my original idea, but I changed my mind and hand painted the stove top later.

Doors off and sanded. The circles for the stove were my original idea, but I changed my mind and hand painted the stove top later.











3. Prepped the wood – Viddy cut out the sink hole and faucet holes, placed a board in the middle of the cabinet to separate the oven from the cabinet. Filled in the holes I didn’t want with wood putty, I also used wood putty and wood glue to fill in some holes and cracks in the bottom of the cabinets.

4. Put the faucet in. Viddy took off some of the unnecessary thing we didn’t need from the faucet. Like the pipes. Then bolted it in place.

5. Sanded some more. Really. Sanding is a pain in my toosh. Actually my lower back.

6. Vacuumed off the dust and pollen (Oh. This project started outside in my screened in porch until the great pollen dusting happened). Wiped everything down with those yellow sticky cheesey cloth things.

7. Painters tape. I covered the faucet in painters tape. Funny – it never occurred to me to take the painters tape off after I was really really done painting. I waited until it was good and try and then tried to peel it off. Like, it had been a month. Ha. I peeled off paint. And then I had to retouch that paint. So, when you use painters tape peel it off sooner. Amateur mistake.

7. PRIMED. I started with spray paint. Mistake. I learned that I LOATHE spray paint for things like this. Try and get an even coat? Deal with wind? Fumes? Thumb fatigue? Spray paint bites – probably because I didn’t do it right. Foam brushes and regular paint – that saved my sanity and thumbs. At this point I also used the Magnetic paint on the front of the cabinet/fridge – probably about 5 layers worth. Weird stuff, really thick and hard to stir. Anyone need magnet paint for anything? I have about 1/2 left.

8. More wiping down with the yellow sticky cloth things.

9. More Paint. At least two coats of the cream and red both. I used two sample sizes of the red since I just did two cabinet doors, the tall cabinet door, and the countertop.

10. Drilled holes for the stovetop knobs (whoops, should have done that before painting…). The knobs turn. Viddy glued 1/2 wood dowel into the knobs, put them in the holes, drilled a small hole through the dowel and put zip ties through those. The result is knobs that turn! Low tech solution.

11. Modge Podged the scrapbook paper on the inside back of the cabinets.









play kitchen fridge painted











12. Put the doors back on, put the oven door on with the hinges on the bottom. Wood glued the countertop on. Put in the shelves. Put the sink in.

13. Detail Painting. I painted the burners freehand (I wanted a flat surface to use as countertop space) I traced out the circles and painted with a small foam brush. I also painted the oven “window.” I painted the inside of the oven the same black. Then I covered it all in super high gloss to give it that enamel look – I guess this part – the inside of the oven, happened around #9 actually. Who’s counting?

play kitchen oven











14. One last clean and then I put felt pads on the bottom and brought it inside!

play kitchen stove top









play kitchen open

Teddy really likes the kitchen, too










Lulu LOVES it. She plays with it almost every day. She doesn’t quite get the oven yet, but she’s happy to play with her play food (Thanks Mimi!) in the sink and pretend wash her hands. I figure as she gets bigger I could attach locking wheels to the bottom to raise it a few inches, or use 2x4s.

This whole thing took me about 6-8 weeks. I worked on it in the evenings, here and there. It’s not perfect. I know where all the imperfections are – where I had to retouch paint more times then I should have because I didn’t know what I was doing. But, my daughter loves it and what else matters?

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