October 3, 2011

DIY Toy Kitchen Tutorial- (How To Be the Coolest Mommy on the Block)

Okay, I've been anxious to tell all of you what I've been making for the girls' second birthday.

And now that it's done, and it's been tested out by my children, and many "Ooh!"s and "Aah!"s have been exclaimed, it's time for the big reveal.

It's a toy kitchen!

It's a toy kitchen! (I know, the title gave it away.)
It was a lot of work, but it's nothing that just about anybody with a screwdriver, electric drill, and a little elbow grease can't manage.  Best of all?  This thing is CHEAP!  I went way over budget, but only due to a serious lack of planning.

First of all, you start with an old TV console.  Back in the very recent past, TVs were big bulky things that played cassettes (also very bulky) via large awkward contraptions.  This whole set-up took a LOT of space.  In fact, contraptions like this old TV console were ubiquitous.  Chances are you know somebody who still has one, trying to figure out a good way to fit their much sleeker flat screen TV (which plays NetFlix via a wireless connection) somewhere in there, while the rest of the space is dedicated to junk mail.

This contraption is a future toy kitchen.  I got this particular model at a local thrift store- the Howard Brown Brown Elephant.  It cost a whopping $18.  Of course, you can find free ones in alleys and on the internet as well.  I love that the initial investment in my kids' new toy kitchen supported a good cause... and Howard Brown is definitely a good cause!

$18 at the Brown Elephant

Once you have your outdated behemoth of outdated furniture, you're ready to begin!  First things first... take measurements!!!  This is VERY important, and one of the reasons I went over budget.  Measure BEFORE you take it apart, because if yours (like mine) has all sorts of finicky bits that make it look nice... you'll have to take that into account.  Measure the space that you'll turn into an oven if you'll need a new oven door, measure the space that you'll turn into a fridge (if you're making a fridge).  This project is VERY flexible!  I've seen it done with microwaves added instead of windows, with full length fridges or no refrigerators at all... all sorts of options!

I chose to save the super cute cabinet doors, which meant basically building in a new cabinet.  Also, this meant getting a new piece of wood for the oven door (and the rack in the middle!).  I also got wood for the cabinet shelves, but I still haven't installed them.  I kind of ran out of time.   >.<

Once you've measured, it's time to take it apart.  This is the easy part.  It's so satisfying!  One minute, it's a TV console.  The next minute, it's a bunch of pieces of wood that don't really correspond to a recognizable object.  SAVE ALL YOUR HARDWARE!

Sand everything!

Now, SAND IT!  This part sucks.  It's monotonous, it's tiresome, and it feels like it's never going to end.  Trust me, it's worth it.  I skipped sanding a bunch of parts, and ended up having to remove paint and sand, and then re-paint.  (Another reason I went over budget.)

Once it's sanded, it's time to make sure you've got all your pieces.  For me, that meant a new piece for the refrigerator door, an oven door, a piece of wood to form my new cabinet, a piece to hide the sink bowl, the wood for the back of the unit, any extra shelves, and all the miscellaneous odds and ends that the kitchen will require.  In this case, an old faucet (we had one from when we moved in- our kitchen came with a broken faucet that I held on to), a small bowl for the sink, some lids from cans of mixed nuts, some water bottle lids, a poster frame and poster sized photograph (got a coupon for those!), a curtain rod, an extra piece of wood to support the window from the back of the kitchen, a few hooks, and a little shelf.  I also got magnetic primer for the refrigerator door.  Oh, and hardware.  (Another place I went over budget- I got twice as much as I actually needed.  Forgot to count the stuff that came WITH the console in the first place.)

Starting to look like *not* a TV console.

Next, paint!  Paint!  More paint!  I had this bucket of paint lying around from when we moved in.  I'd used a tiny amount for faux finishing the hallway, but I'd only spent a dollar on it then.  It was a pre-mixed and abandoned bucket at Home Depot.  They usually have a few of those.  I spray painted the future knobs, put 5 coats of magnetic primer on the fridge door, and painted the unit, shelves, and everything else.  I used aluminum paint for the rack (another thing I went over budget for- should have just gotten some good acrylic at the art supply store!), and black spray paint for the knobs.  For the fridge and oven door, Rustoleum gloss white.

That hole was a pain in the butt.

Next, final modifications.  That means, cutting holes and and attaching new elements.  This was the hardest part.  I cut the hole for the sink by hand with a keyhole saw.  Because I'm that hard core.  I recommend using an electric saw, if you've got one handy.  If not, It didn't actually take that long.  It just didn't feel too great once I was done!  I went ahead and attached the sink at that point, because I REALLY wanted it to look like I'd done a bunch of work... and actually have it show.  I used caulk to attach the sink bowl to the wood.

With all the new parts in place, it was time to attach all the modded out old parts!  And the little detaily bits!


And then.... voila!  Toy kitchen!  I used a photograph of my favorite place on earth, Guppy Lake, where my parents live.

Grandma made the apron.  :)

I had told Grandmommy and Aunt Engineer (and a few other folks) that the girls wanted toy food for their birthday.  So now?  Totally stocked!  It's amazing!  I'm totally jealous.  I wish MY kitchen was so well prepared for fun!  :)
Hooray kitchen!

There are a few things still missing.  I'm going to add some cup hooks to the bottom of their little shelf, so it acts as a pot rack.  I'm going to install those shelves in the cabinets.

Here are the toy kitchens that inspired me- take a look and see if you get any new ideas for your own!  If I can do it, so can you!
From DiggersList Blog
From Sutton Grace

There are more out there, but those were my biggest inspirations!  Good luck!


  1. That is AWESOME. :) Yep. You totally rock on the mommy front, and I'm sure your daughters will agree. :)

  2. Awwww, that is precious! And WOW! You definitely do ROCK on the mommy front (to quote above comments). I love it....wish I was your daughter :)

  3. Looks lovely! The homemade gifts are the best kind aren't they? We make an extra-special gift for every birthday.

  4. Handy mama! You rock!

  5. Holy. COW. This is freaking incredible. You are so talented, I could never do this. Major kudo's. That's so special.

  6. Cute DIY kitchen! Handmade gifts really are the best kind.

  7. Holy Smokes Mama! That thing is awesome, well done and without the $300 Pottery Barn Kids price tag! Cute!

  8. Wow, you are pretty amazing! I would have never thought to do that let alone have the skills to pull it off. Seems like it was fun to make and your daughters will have a great time with if for a long while.

  9. I always wanted my girls to have a toy kitchen but hated the pink plastic ones and the wooden ones were about the price of a mortgage payment. You are so very smart and cool and your girls are going to be amazing, no doubt! :)

  10. Thats awesome...you are so creative....just came over from MBC, love your blog When u get a minute visit me at www.captaincooksblog.com
    Thanks for the ideas!!

  11. That's really cool! Looks more realistic than the one we bought and probably spent way more money one!

  12. I'm speechless. You gave me a knock-out. Only a very creative mind can do this. Great job and thumbs up.

  13. This is a fantastic piece of work! I'm breathless. You're really a supermommy :)

  14. This is the best DIY kids toy kitchen that I have ever laid my eyes upon. You didn't even have to start entirely from scratch. I'm pinning this onto my online boards so I can make it for my child one day.



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