7 Jan 2013

DIY Play Kitchen - Part 1

I started writing all about Fin's play kitchen and the post took on a life of it's own.  This project was such a labour of love, and to me, it's the small details that make it so cute.  So, I'm going to divide it up into 2 posts (or you will be reading all day). Today will be the actual making of the kitchen, and later this week will be all the pretty stuff.

I purchased this desk from a garage sale way back in the summer for $15.

I had actually gone through the whole garage sale and didn't find anything I was interested in, but as I was driving away I saw this on the sidewalk.  The door and drawer looked so much like a fridge to me that I actually parked again and bought it.  (then I sweet talked Mr. Swell into going to pick it up for me with the truck).  And yes, that's our monitor on the top....I don't lie about only doing things while Fin naps.

It sat in our garage for quite a few months before we finally had the time to work on it.  I knew that the left side was going to be the fridge, but couldn't quite decide what to do with the big open space.  We had tossed around making the whole thing an oven, or making it half oven and half microwave, or even just making it all open shelving.  In my mind a play kitchen wasn't any good if it didn't have an oven, so we had to figure out how to make one.

I removed the extra little shelf on the top, the keyboard tray and lower rolling shelf (what would that have been used for anyway?).  Then we cut a piece of plywood to fit in the opening and attached it using some L brackets.

The right half of the partition was destined to become the oven.  To create the oven door, we took another piece of plywood (that we had left over from another project) and cut it down to size.  Then Mr. Swell used his jig saw to cut out a window.  We used the palm sander to get everything nice and smooth.  

I hauled out my go-to white paint, Benjamin Moore Advance in White Dove, and gave the whole thing 3 coats of paint.  Now, here's the honest to God truth.....

I know I should have primed.  The desk was veneer and I didn't even scuff it up before painting....sanding really would have been a good idea.  But, it was November, and it was cold in the garage so I wanted to spend the least amount of time in it.  AND we were out of primer, which would have meant a trip to the hardware store (lazy, lazy, lazy).  AND I had about 2 square feet of working space to paint this sucker.

Ya, I totally could have moved the car out...excuses, excuses.  Anyhow, all of those factors added up to me not priming.  3 nights in a row I traipsed out to the garage to paint a coat.  Advance takes 24 hours to dry between coats, and since the garage was a wee bit cold (even though I had our heater on), I gave it the full 24 hours each time. 

After a week of curing, I had a nice white half desk/half play kitchen. 

Sorry for the bad photo....blame it on the overstuffed garage!  Please take note of the socks and flip flops....ya, I don't know either....they must have been handy at the back door....

The next step was to attach the plexiglass for the oven window.  I bought a pre-cut piece of plexi at The Home Depot for just under $5.

Mr. Swell used his drill to drill holes in each corner.  He started with his smallest bit and then worked up in size until the hole was big enough.  By starting small we figured we would eliminate some of the risk of the plexi cracking.  One of our corners did break off while drilling, but we had a big enough screw head to still hold it on.  We then just screwed it onto the back of the oven door. 

The oven door is attached at the bottom with 2 door hinges.  To keep the oven door closed, we attached  2 magnetic door closures at the top of the oven door. 

Once the oven door was finished, we moved on to the sink.  For the sink basin we used a silver mixing bowl from the dollar store.  We did look at a few stores to find one that had a big enough lip,  and were eventually able to find one.

Before doing any cutting we flipped the bowl over and traced around the lip.  (let's play a game...who can find the baby monitor in the pic below??)

Then Mr. Swell used his jig saw to cut just inside of the line we drew.

We then just laid down a small bead of construction glue around the edge and popped the bowl in.  I was crossing my fingers the whole time that it was going to fit, and thank goodness it did.  I wasn't keen on having to look for a bigger bowl if the hole was too big.  I guess I shouldn't have doubted a man and his jig saw.

The most frustrating part of the sink was the faucet.  Not because of how difficult it was to install, but because of how stinkin' expensive it was.  Why are faucets so much money?  I will never understand. We went to the re-store and they wanted $50 for an old plain bathroom faucet (you know, the kind with the clear plastic knobs and the scrolly H & C...).  I stalked Kijiji for weeks, but everything was still too expensive.  We finally gave up and decided to buy a new faucet.  We bought an Uberhaus kitchen faucet at Totem during one of their 10% off events.  It ended up being just shy of $25, which was good when it came too faucets, but pretty darn expensive when it came to play kitchens.  

We removed the tubing, etc from the bottom of the faucet and then just screwed it onto the top of the kitchen, from the bottom.  I do like that it is actually a kitchen faucet (and not a bathroom faucet) , and that it swivels (bonus, since Fin is still a little short to reach the sink bowl without swivelling the faucet).

The last step before moving the whole thing inside was a bit of spray painting.  I thought the fridge door was looking awfully white and needed a little tszujing. I taped off an area and then sprayed it with 2 coats of chalk board spray paint.

A girl needs a place to write her menus down, right?  Or scribble on, which is more like it these days.

See that yellow handle?  I used the handles that came with the desk for the fridge, and then bought a new matching handle for the oven.  They were all silver to start with, but that was booooring.  So, in true Kelly fashion I gave them a couple coats of sunshine yellow spray paint.  

By this point it was actually starting to look like  a kitchen.

The best part it yet to come.  It was truly everything after this point that made me so happy.  The fun stuff that I LOVED shopping for.  Check out Part 2 here.


  1. I cant wait to see the reveal! I love what youve done so far.

    I made one too, so I completely understand how much fun - and how much WORK - it is:


  2. I cant wait to see how it turns out!

  3. Looks great! BTW, FYI on drilling into plexiglass or anything else that might splinter, etc. -- Cover the area to be drilled with Tape on both sides and drill through. Make sure the tape is really stuck to the area. And remember to take the sticky gunk off your drill-bit later!

    And Im also loving that vintage Vanity-Desk next to the Fender... :-D

    1. Thanks for the plexiglass tip! Now that you say that, I do remember seeing that somewhere before...goes to show you how when we are in the middle of something we just plow ahead. That vanity turned into thisL http://www.aswellplacetodwell.com/2012/11/milk-paint-dressing-table.html

  4. Looking fab, cant wait to part 2

  5. Very cool! I think that lower shelf that rolled out was probably for a printer or something...

    1. Ya, thats what I figured too, but it just seemed like it was in such an odd place. If I was using it I am sure I would keep pumping it with me knees!


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