Tried and Tuesday: Our DIY Play Kitchen Experience

Our DIY Play Kitchen ExperienceHave you been on Pinterest?

Have you seen the adorableness out there?

Have you been intoxicated by the pinnings of people with WAY more time on their hands, WAY more space available to them, and WAY more resources at their disposal?

Of course you have.  That’s why we PIN, right?  We don’t actually DO These things…

or do we?

The Pickle turned two in March.  So for her two-year birthday, I wanted her big gift from Mommy and Daddy to be a play kitchen.  With all the plastic food and cardboard cereal boxes.  With an oven that opens and closes and a sink that really turns.

What I did NOT want was a storebought kitchen.

Not after I saw the Pinspirations, anyways!

No, I’m the type of person who sees something and thinks, “I can do that.”

Even if I can’t.

Even if I don’t have the time. Or the money.  Or the tools.  Or the space.

I can do that.

Why buy one when… I can do that!

So, as you can see.  I did it.  And it was quite an adventure.


First of all, a girl gets something in her head and she has a hard time getting it out.  For weeks I stalked Craigslist in search of the perfect piece of furniture.  I knew exactly what it had to look like and exactly how much I was able to spend.

After all, I had to do this cheaper than a play kitchen to make it worth my while.

So when I scored this little beauty, begged a friend to drive me ALL THE WAY across town in her van to pick it up, and then made her help me heave it inside, It was on.  The Pickle was getting a kitchen, like, now.  And it was gonna be UhMazing.  The guy wanted to give it to me for free, considering how far we drove.  But I paid.

Ten bucks.


We don’t have a lot of space in our tiny two-bedroom apartment.  So I worked on it off and on for the better part of three months… in our living room.  It didn’t help that in the middle of those three months my Grandma passed away and I spent three weeks in Kansas.  One evening on Skype with my husband he turned the camera around and showed me the cabinet and asked when the &^%$ I was gonna get it out of his living room?! (he probably didn’t say that… but he did have to live with it, inactive, for three weeks)


The year before, my daddy had bought me a drill.  Yeah… I’m cool like that.  But beyond a drill and some sandpaper that our neighbor gave me to borrow (that I still haven’t returned) that was all we had.  But I was not deterred.  A girl on a mission can do a lot with a drill and sandpaper.

The ShelfSo for three months I worked, bringing my vision to life.  I moved shelves.  I added a divider.  I built a shelf.  I constructed an oven door.  On one of my multiple trips to Lowe’s I texted my husband and asked, “can I PLEASE buy a handheld jigsaw?!”

He said yes.

When it came to installing the faucet (which I will explain later) I could NOT have done it successfully without the help of our apartment’s maintenance guy who just happened to be walking by the afternoon that I was trying to put the faucet in.  He let me borrow a tool that looks like a short, fat, metal tornado.  It attached to my very cool drill.  And do you know? I drilled holes an inch and a half wide into that sucker!  If for no other reason, you should make a diy kitchen just to feel hardcore.  But seriously, I didn’t even know that tool existed.


Some things I did not get so lucky with, though, and I had to get creative.  Like, I didn’t use a thick board for the back.  Just the cardboard backing that comes on an entertainment center.  So how do I mount a shelf and a “window” on cardboard?  My answer was to screw a board across the back and carefully attach those items into it through the cardboard.

Then I stared for hours at tile, laminate floor squares, granite-like paint.  Nothing was fitting in my budget and nothing was getting me excited about a countertop.  Until I caught a vision of a “butcher-block”.  Of course!  Lowe’s had stick-on laminate tiles with a wooden design for .88 apiece.  They were perfect!


Then there was the sink.  I looked everywhere for something that would work.  Once, at Big Lots, I spotted some silver metal mixing bowls that were great, but they were completely out of the size that I needed.  Then my brilliant mother-in-law recommended a dog dish (and then asked why I didn’t just let them BUY the Pickle a kitchen).  Boom!  My $5 Target dog bowl is beyond perfect.  (Cutting the hole, on the other hand?  Not so good.)

As for the faucet?  I read blog after blog after blog.  I sought people out online.  I searched EVERYWHERE and could not find these cheap faucets that everyone else supposedly had just lying around.  Until someone told me about the Habitat ReStore.  Do you have one of these in your town?  If you don’t have one, you need to be the one who makes a move to get one.  It is like Goodwill, but all proceeds from sales go to support the ministry of Habitat for Humanity.  Even better than that, though, they accept secondhand home and buildings supplies.  Half-used cans of paint.  Ripped out cabinets.  Old ceiling fans.  Appliances.  Tools.  Electrical, plumbing, and drywall materials.  Anything you could think of to work on your house… or build a Play Kitchen.  If only I had known about this place sooner!

So after an hour of roaming through the store with a wiggly toddler who was running out of cheeseballs, I finally asked the man, “Do you have any faucets?”  SURE we do… as he led me outside into the late February cold.  Outside, on the ground, half-filled with ice and water, were about 25 dejected sinks.

Yeah… not faucets.

I said sinks.  Whole bathroom vanity tops.

And screwed into the top of almost every one of those… was a faucet.

After much debating and much trying to figure out how I was gonna get the faucet out of the sink, I finally chose a small bathroom sink with a cute little faucet that was all in one piece (not a spout and two separate handles).

With no other option, I simply hoisted the entire thing into my cart and took it to the front where I inquired about the cost.

“That one…” he looked at it, “Oh, how about five bucks?”


“The whole thing,” I asked?  “All I need is the faucet.”

“Well, just bring the sink back and we can sell it seperately.”

Finally, I had everything I needed… AND the kitchen sink.

Everything except one very important piece.


I fretted for weeks over this one.  First of all, what in the world is going to stick to cheap pressboard covered in a laminate veneer?  Nothing.  That’s what.  Read the tutorials… they go something like this:  Buy a sander.  Buy a primer.  Buy a paint.  Buy a polyurethane coating.  Let it dry for a month.  And it MIGHT not scrape off.

So I went to my ultimate source of all things paint related- my sister in law.

She had recently dabbled in the art of refinishing furniture using something called Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Do you know it?  Amazing, isn’t it?  Amazing thirty-six dollars a quart, amazing.

Lucky for me, my sisinlaw knows my tightwad heart and she referred me to some excellent tutorials for making my own chalk paint.  There are a few methods out there.  I chose plaster of paris.  And four samples of Valspar from Lowe’s.  They were three dollars apiece.  Please, if you have a small project, don’t ever buy a large can of paint again.  These are AWESOME.  And cheap.  And chalk paint lasts for miles.  And… on second thought, buy the can.  Then you’ll have something to donate to the Habitat ReStore.

So I read my directions.  I make my PofP paste.  I mix it in with my paint.  And right in the middle of the living room, I paint theHot Pads and Aprons monster in La Fonda Fiesta Blue and Whipped Strawberry.  And in real life,




There is a final step to chalk painting.  It was the only downer of the whole thing.  It’s called waxing (it stinks).  This is probably something my Grandma did to furniture all the time, but I have never in my lifetime seen it done.  Apparently it’s a pretty good thing, though, because I waxed that puppy top to bottom, front to back at LEAST two times, if not three.  (that was done on the porch)  And it has not scratched once.  If you’re looking for the answer to painting cheap furniture, chalk paint and wax is the only choice.  Trust me.  I have a toddler.  And a play kitchen.


Once it was painted and waxed (the night before her birthday) all I had to do was put it all together and add a few special touches, like a chalkboard and the matching hot pads and oven mitts I made for her!  The next morning, my husband brought our little two-year old downstairs, still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, and showed her her beautiful, brand new play kitchen!

And she immediately asked to watch Daniel Tiger.

Our DIY Play Kitchen Experience


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