by Margaret Cabaniss
While we’re on the subject of homemade kids’ toys, I had to share The Cutest Play Kitchen in the History of Play Kitchens that my sister’s husband put together as a Christmas gift for their 15-month-old son, Stephen. Seriously, just look at it. Is that not the sweetest thing? (The kitchen, I mean. I already know Stephen is adorable.)
I have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love a good play kitchen, but it’s just as rare to find one that isn’t plastic, garish, or outrageously expensive — sometimes all three at once. I’d seen posts where people had built their own play kitchens from old cabinets and such (like this one at Young House Love), but this model ended up being even simpler: Amy found a post at Apartment Therapy on how to build a play kitchen out of Ikea components; Joe cut, painted, and assembled it; and with a few extra accessories, Stephen now has the cutest little Scandinavian minimalist kitchen on the block.
The plan itself is endlessly adaptable, and Joe and Amy made a few tweaks of their own. They started with this Rast nightstand for the base, which they already happened to have on hand (but at just $15, it would be easy enough to pick one up), then Joe used a jig saw to cut a round hole in the top for the sink. Instead of sticking with the lower shelves in the original plan, he put a vertical divider in the middle of the shelf to make the right side an oven, and the left a cabinet/mini-fridge.
On the oven side, Joe attached four pieces of wood to the interior walls to serve as the oven rack holders; the rack itself is just a ¼-inch piece of hardwood plywood, cut to rest on top of the braces. (Hardwood plywood has a smoother finish than regular plywood and is slightly more expensive. In this case, Joe just happened to have some on hand that was left over from a previous project.)
Next, he cut a ½-inch piece of plywood to the width of the shelf (and roughly double the height) to serve as the back to the entire unit. One final piece of ½-inch hardwood plywood was cut to fit the front of the shelf for the doors, then cut again down the middle. The fridge door was attached with hinges on the side, while the oven door was hinged at the bottom.
After making sure all the pieces fit, Joe painted the base, doors, and backboard white; the oven interior (including a corresponding square on the backboard and the inside of the door) gray; and the oven rack black. Once everything dried, he re-hung the doors, putting in magnetic latches to hold them shut, and screwed the base onto the back.
With the major components assembled, all that was left to do was add a few pieces of hardware (mostly from Ikea) to finish it off: a metal dog bowl for the sink, cabinet handles for the oven and fridge door, a double towel bar and S hooks for the pot rack, some black coasters for burners, and a few leftover cabinet knobs for the range controls. Add in some pots, pans, utensils, and play food (also from Ikea), plus some wooden condiment bottles and sliceable food from Melissa and Doug, and Stephen’s kitchen is now fully stocked.
Stephen loves it, of course; even his older brothers like to get in on the action. Amy and Joe have talked about adding other details — a sink faucet, maybe, or a square of chalkboard paint on the back to scribble menus — but the simple lines are kind of nice, too: As it is, it’s small and unobtrusive enough that it can live happily in Amy and Joe’s living room without taking over the space, visually or otherwise. And the fact that they already had most of the necessary materials on hand (heck, even if they hadn’t) made it far less expensive than even the most simple play models out there. Wins all around.
Images: Margaret Cabaniss