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How to make a toddler play kitchen

Finished Play Kitchen

Olivia gets stuck in, taking the sink out and isn't playing how I thought she would!

Olivia loves IKEA’s play kitchen and has to be torn away from it any time we visit a friend who has one. I would dearly love to buy her one, but it’s really expensive, so inspired by a few photos I found online, I decided to make her one from an old cupboard we picked up for £10 in a junkshop. I thought I’d share with you how I did it, in case you want to do something similar.

Play Kitchen - cutting holes

I took the door off and started sanding it down

First of all, we took off the door and the hinge. It was hanging off so this was easy. Then I sanded it all down, bar the inside. It was light sanding – this cabinet is made from veneered wood panels and was varnished, so I just wanted to take the varnish off.

I then painted it all with a primer for wood. I had a good white wood paint for the whole unit and did two coats of it overall. As well as painting the cabinet, I adapted the door which had four inset panels to make it into a hob. There was originally a cushion as a seat at the top, so we took that off, cut the door to size and slid it in. I painted it all by hand, really carefully, to make it look exactly like our SMEG oven hob, and I stuck on four plastic knobs to look like dials along the top. In hindsight, I wish I’d put them lower down – if this was really a hob, she’d burn her hands reaching over to turn the hob on – but nevermind…

Play Kitchen - sink in

Sink and hob in, there's a lot of painting, sanding and curtain making to go

Matt cut a hole for the sink (we used a jigsaw for all the cutting), which is a lovely metal mixing bowl we had in the cupboard. It’s one of our favourites, but we do have a lot of mixing bowls so I figured we wouldn’t miss it too badly. We’re looking for a tap to fit into the back to complete it here.

Matt fixed some dowel rods in to use as curtain rails too, and having bought a set of tea towels from Next, I cut them down and sewed them into curtains. All this involved was running a wide hem down one side of them, having measured them up and made sure the drop was right. Once I’d remembered how to thread the sewing machine, it was easy.

Play Kitchen - with knobs on

Painted with knobs stuck on the top. Taps still to come!

To stock the kitchen, I’ve put lots of colourful pots into a box, food pots that we used to use to freeze portions of puree for Olivia when she was a baby, but that are now way too small. She likes playing with them and they’re really colourful. I also bought some tins from Home Sense to use as food tins – they have gingerbread men on them and are really sweet – and filled them with a selection of crocheted vegetables and fruits. I also crocheted some doughnuts for her too – they are really sweet!

Crocheted fruit and veg

A selection of crocheted fruit and veg that I made to go with it

Next up I want to find some pots and pans for the hob – I might just get those IKEA ones, which are great after all – and some drawer liners or patterned wallpaper to cover up the wood on the shelves inside and make it a bit more boho. I think adding up everything, it will have cost about £35, which is about a third of the IKEA kitchen. And it’s more individual too. I’m hoping that Olivia will ‘cook’ at it and play with it while I’m cooking beside her in the kitchen, instead of playing with the cat food and picking up bowls and other breakable things that I don’t want her to touch…

About Laura

Laura Dixon has written 55 posts on this blog.

Travel writer, hotel reviewer and general fan of baking, bakeries and cakes.

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  1. Congratulations! A brilliant idea well executed.

  2. Really lovely idea, I am sending it to my niece who has a very ‘helpful’ three year old

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