All the yarn things…right to your inbox. Sign up here.

The Secrets of How We Built Our DIY Play Kitchen for Under $90

by | DIY, Home, Kids

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

So, you know how I like quick and easy crafts?  Well, this post is not one of them.  This post will be epic, long, and chock-ful of what I hope to be super useful information for you! Because why should you figure out how to build a DIY play kitchen from scratch when you can learn from me, right?  Here we go.

First, the story. LM likes to get into things – dishwashers, drawers, cabinets – so I decided I wanted to get her a play kitchen so she stays out of MY kitchen.  But they’re EXPENSIVE, even on Craigslist. And then Drew reminded me we had our old tv stand hanging out in the garage, primed and ready for … something.  Why not a play kitchen?  And hence, the journey started.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secret #1: Don’t worry about how awesome all the other DIY play kitchens are.  Yes, I know it’s odd that I should start with that, when here I am hoping you’ll be inspired by my DIY play kitchen, but trust me. I was paralyzed by the creativity of so many other play kitchens and wanted so many features that I didn’t know where to start. But, this project is YOUR project, so get to a quiet space in your head and make it YOURS.

Start with your base cabinetry.  Are you starting with a tv stand or a nightstand or a desk or a table? I started with a tv stand. I wanted a fridge and an oven with pull down doors. I realized that drop down doors wouldn’t work in the space that we had, and are my kids really going to care whether there’s a dishwasher or full size fridge or microwave?  NO. I can get a gorgeous fun kitchen just by using what’s already in front of me. It was a serious relief to let all that pressure go and just make the best of out what I had. Uh, way easier and less expensive too!

Here’s the before picture.  Actually, the you can catch a true before pic in our old living room, but here’s the cabinet after taking the doors/knobs off and getting it primed with one coat of white paint.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secret #2: Depending on your piece of furniture, you’ll want to sand it down really well. Drew had done some light sanding, but it wasn’t enough and I had issues with the paint sticking later on in the process. Don’t make my mistake.

I guess I should state here that this play kitchen, like any other project in this engineering household, had to meet certain restrictions. We wanted to spend as little as possible, within reason, and have it be lightweight, functional, and moveable. Let’s go through those restrictions step by step.

Moveable

This is the easy one. Casters. We bought 6 casters – 1 for each corner and 2 for the middle. You really only need two braking casters (which are more expensive), but we accidentally bought 3.

Secret #3: Know how thick your internal and external walls are, so you know what length screws to buy. That will save you oodles of trips to Home Depot for $1.18 bags of screws and bolts.

Lightweight

This one made us think a little bit. A lot, actually. The backsplash, back wall, stove, and inner shelving were modified for weight.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Backsplash

Secret #4: Hand drawing the backsplash. We bought a 12 inch by 1 inch by 6 feet piece of pine board and secured it to the top of the cabinet. It is secured using wood glue, straight metal brackets and possibly screws from the inside drilled into the bottom of the panel (not positive if Drew ended up doing the last bit). The backsplash was clamped in place overnight to let the glue dry.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Then came the decision of how to make it LOOK like a backsplash.  My options were:

Option Pros Cons
Real glass tile beautiful glass is heavy!
the real thing expensive
requires specialized tools
requires grouting
Smart Tiles – plastic tile sheets made to look like tile mosaics, found at Home Depot each sheet is less than 1 sq ft. $7 to $10 per sheet
lightweight multiple designs online, but not available in store
adhesive backing
Bead board paneling gorgeous country kitchen style 4ft by 8ft paneling ($20) is too much when I want to cover 5 sq ft.
3 dimensional heavy
interlocking bead board similar to hardwood floors – interlock only what you need – less waste
$12 for wood pack – inexpensive wood is heavy!
$21 for vinyl pack – lightweight too expensive for my budget
decorative vinyl $17 for tin panel look not sure about tin panels as backsplash
adhesive, easy to install
contact paper/shelf liner inexpensive (under $10) cheesy designs, except for the cork and “stainless steel”, but didn’t want that look
adhesive, easy to install
hand painting (WINNER!) inexpensive – less than $4 for a silver paint pen not 3 dimensional like a real backsplash
lightweight – no additional weight
any color I wanted

 

Yup, the winner was hand drawing my bead board backsplash.  I primed and painted the pine board with ChalkPaint by Annie Sloan in Old White. For the lines, I bought a silver Sharpie oil-based paint pen ($3.25) and drew a vertical line every 2.5 inches down the length of the board. Then I went back with a Stabilo fine-point pen* in a silver color and drew 2 thin lines on either side of the paint pen line, to give it depth. A quilting ruler lay on its side on the cabinet and I used a metal ruler to draw the lines themselves.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

To finish the look and to hide the paint/taping issues I had, I bought a 5 foot length of base shoe molding and fit it between the backsplash and the “countertop”.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Back wall

This is the only part that we haven’t finished yet, but the plan is to just cover the back of the cabinet with poster board. Drew had already bought metal supports to cross-brace the whole piece so I didn’t want to buy more materials for the back.  I have plenty of poster board on hand at home, and the only purpose is to prevent toys from dropping out the back.

Stove

Here’s another fun bit, the stove.  This is where my Silhouette Cameo came in handy. After debating for days about how I wanted to make a stove, and whether I wanted it to be gas or electric, and did I want real working lights or make a grate similar to my pallet wood coasters, I had a eureka moment and decided to use foam.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secret #5: 1 piece of black craft foam ($1, Michaels) + 1 piece of 11×14 plexiglass ($5, Home Depot) + leftover white vinyl and a few drops of super glue made up my stove top. Since I was conforming to the 11×14 plexiglass, I designed and cut out 4 rings out of the white vinyl – they were 4 inches in diameter with an internal offset of 1/4 inch. The rings were peeled off and stuck onto the foam, which had already been cut to size. Add a few dabs of glue and pop the plexiglass on and you’re all set! Not quite a gas stove, but not the electric coils either, since the coils aren’t really visible until the stove is on and the coils light up.  I know, picky picky, what can I say?

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

For the knobs, I bought 6 wood disks at Michaels – they were 2-1/4 inch in diameter and $1 each. A bit of a splurge there, but they were 1/4 inch thick and I wanted the thickness. 2 of the knobs were sawed in half by hand and all the pieces were painted individually. I probably put on 5 or 6 light coats of yellow acrylic paint.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

I added in some fun knob details with my Silhouette. I designed a little gradient with a LOW and a HIGH indicator, cut it out of white vinyl, and transferred it to my wood disk. I know there is such a thing as “transfer paper”, but I just use clear Contact paper*. After getting the design off the cutting mat, peel away the backing and extra vinyl, and place onto the wood disk. Carefully peel away the contact paper (Secret tip: I peel away at an extremely steep angle, using the Silhouette scraper to keep everything in place as I peel).  Then carefully weed away what you don’t want, and you’re left with the stove knob indicators.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

On the 4 disk bases, we drilled a hole slightly larger than the #8 screws we used to secure the knobs to the cabinet.  I used #8-32 by 1-1/2 inch long philips flat head machine screws for the knobs. The package comes with matching nuts, but I also got a package of washers to keep the knobs slightly off the cabinet surface. In hindsight, I probably could have used longer screws so that the knob can be secured but still turn freely (see Secret #3 – I was pretty tired of running to HD at this point).  As it is, it is possible for the knob to unscrew if you tried hard enough, but it’s not so easy that the kids have figured it out.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

To finish, I added a coat of Mod Podge to seal everything down because the vinyl didn’t stick very well to the wood. Plus, the MP gave a bit of a shine. Then the disks were attached to the cabinet and the half-circle tops were super-glued to the disks.  Secret tip: Don’t use wood glue here, use super glue. LM took the knob off on her first try when I had just used wood glue.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Functional

This play kitchen is a toy, but I wanted it to look good, so I went a-scouring for as much real stuff as I could.

Secret #6: Pick up an old faucet from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I know, you might not have one around here, so you may need to resort to garage sales or Craigslist, but if there’s a ReStore in your area, find it, and GO. I found my brand new, complete in box, not a fingerprint to be seen, faucet for $10. It even had the little spray nozzle for the side. Score! And even better, the set didn’t come with unnecessary tubes, so all we had to do was drill a few holes, set the faucet in, and screw the bottoms in place. Easy peasy.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

The sink is a mixing bowl I found at HomeGoods for $7. Drew drilled a hole in the top of the cabinet and then stuck his jig-saw in the hole to cut out the hole for the sink. The mixing bowl has a lip on it, so we measured the hole to be just less than the full diameter of the bowl so it pop right in.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Instead of building a shelf, we grabbed an unused Ikea Grundtal bar from the garage to hang assorted buckets and utensils. The Grundtal system was from my old craft room that now had no home. Which brings us to…

DIY Play Kitchen on a Budget

Secret #7: Look in different and unexpected places for items you can use, without having to buy new. I looked through my own craft stash, the stuff in our garage and debated retiring items from our kitchen. It’s the best way to save money and still have a real-looking play kitchen!

We re-used paint that we had on hand, which saved us a ton of money. Old or lesser quality paints were used as primer, while the more expensive Benjamin Moore Advance paint was used as the top coats. I had originally wanted a white kitchen, but the money savings of using our existing paints won the day, so now the kitchen is Kendall Charcoal gray with Palladian Blue counter-tops and cabinet interiors. The backsplash is painted with Annie Sloan Old White.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secret tip: Even if your piece of furniture doesn’t have a real “countertop”, paint the top surface a different color to give the look of a countertop!

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

I painted the front of one of the cabinet doors with chalkboard paint that I had on hand, and replaced the drawer knobs with extra blue ceramic knobs from D Lawless Hardware that I had used on my hallway table.

Secret tip: Use chalkboard paint or whiteboard paint or magnetic paint to add a bit of different color/texture/functionality!

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

The interior shelving caused a few headaches. The movers had lost the actual shelves that went in the cabinet so we were shelf-less. It wasn’t a big deal, since I wanted a rack for the “oven”, but I still needed some sort of divider for the other cabinet and couldn’t figure out what to use. Options were: baking racks. dishwashing drying racks, sink protector racks, plastic bins, plexiglass, wire baskets and MDF. For each of those options, I considered weight, cost and size, and nothing came close to what I wanted.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secret #8: Interior shelves for the oven and fridge were 16 inch deep Closetmaid shelves. I bought a 4 foot length of 16 inch deep white Closetmaid shelving and a pack of small end caps for a total of around $10. Drew cut the shelf into 15 inch chunks (width of interior space) with a hacksaw and we capped all the ends with the little plastic toppers. The shelves sit on the plain old shelf rests that the movers did not lose (how they can lose the shelf but not the tiny shelf rests is beyond me). To be more stable, it’s probably better to install some wood shelf rests in the cabinets, but this is our semi-temporary solution.

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Here’s a somewhat complete run-down of the materials I bought and what I had on-hand:

Whew! I think that’s it! Drew and I went through rounds and rounds of discussion and debate, weighing different options for every detail of this kitchen, so if we can spare you some legwork, we’re happy to do it.

Before & After of our diy play kitchen. I'm also sharing tips and tricks to make this project functional, lightweight and inexpensive! via www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Oh yeah, and the kids love it. Of course. And it keeps most of their play food, dishes and utensils from being permanently spread out everywhere!

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Secrets of how we built our diy play kitchen for under $90 | www.1dogwoof.com

Even though the Silhouette was only a small part of the project, it was an important part, so see the links below to see how else you can get organized with your Silhouette machine!

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

Today My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration!

Organizing With Icons Butterfly Labels Customizing Your Erin Condren Life Planner Weekly Layout Organizing Your Craft Supplies with Labels Weekly Menu Box Peg Board Entry Way Order In Kid Land A Fun Way to Label Binders Sugar and Spice Looking Oh So Nice Turning a Plain Cabinet into Something Beautiful DIY Cash Budget Envelopes Flour and Sugar Pantry Container Labels Personalized Hair Bow Organizer Organize your Refrigerator DIY Vinyl Decorated Coupon Organizer 2015 Blog Planner Designed For Dragonfly & Lily Pads Laminated Labels with Your Silhouette The Secrets of How We Built Our DIY Play Kitchen Creative Way to Dry Winter Mittens Organizing Canvas Toy Bins with Labels Kids Closet Storage {with Rubbermaid Drawer Dresser and Vinyl Labels} Cute Gold Binder Labels {2015 Organization} Easy Vinyl Storage Organization and TWO Free Cut Files Personalized Ring Holders Upcycle for Organization Organizing Makeup with Style: A Monogrammed Makeup Case Vinyl Tupperware Labels How to Make a Chalkboard Clipboard Christmas Card Memory Book Simple DIY Holiday Storage Labels DIY Vinyl Frame Calendar with {FREE CUT FILE} Ribbons & Tapes Upcycled Organizing Box Print and Cut Pantry Labels

1. Please Excuse My Craftermath… // 2. Simply Kelly Designs // 3. Daily Dwelling // 4. Ginger Snap Crafts // 5. Our Southern Home // 6. Sowdering About // 7. The Moberg Family // 8. Decor Adventures // 9. Pineapples and Pinecones // 10. Patina Paradise // 11. The Thinking Closet // 12. It Happens in a Blink // 13. Adventures in All Things Food // 14. From Wine to Whine // 15. Practically Functional // 16. Dragonfly & Lily Pads // 17. unOriginal Mom // 18. One Dog Woof // 19. Creative Ramblings // 20. My Favorite Finds // 21. Create it. Go! // 22. A Prudent Life // 23. Where The Smiles Have Been // 24. Barb’s Life // 25. Everyday Paper // 26. Pitter and Glink // 27. Peanut Life Adventures // 28. Feto Soap Blog // 29. Our Rosey Life // 30. Two Purple Couches // 31. My Paper Craze // 32. TitiCrafty // 33. Lil Mrs Tori

41 Comments

  1. Karen

    Wow! If I had built my kids a kitchen, this would be what I’d want it to look like. Like you, I agonized about how to make one, but I just gave up and bought one instead. I can’t believe you painted that backsplash! It all looks so good! And I like how you incorporated the Silhouette into the little details.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thanks Karen! I was so ready to give up and buy one, but just thinking about this thing taking up space in my garage when my poor car sits outside…ugh. Glad it’s in the house being used again 🙂

      Reply
  2. Morghan

    Love this! Your first piece of advice is so key! I’ve been looking for the perfect piece to do for my niece and I can’t seem to find it because I keep thinking about all the great kitchens already out there and the “before” pieces they used. Love the casters and the lightness of yours. Definitely adding those to the ideas list!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      I can’t even imagine how paralyzed I’d be if I didn’t have a piece already there to start with. There are so many options! I say go with whatever is cheap and in good shape and just wing it :-). And yes, put wheels on all the things!

      Reply
  3. Marilyn

    OMG this is utterly amazing! You and Drew did such a wonderful job! 😀

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thank you so much Marilyn!

      Reply
  4. Kerri KC

    All I can say is AMAZING!! That’s one lucky little girl!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thank you!

      Reply
  5. Bethany

    This turned out soooo cute! I love it! Can I come over and play? 🙂

    Reply
  6. Drew

    When the kids out-grow it, I’m totally converting this to the functional outdoor kitchen, complete with running water and a real electric hotplate.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      With pizza oven?

      Reply
  7. Jennifer @ Brave New Home

    What a special kitchen! I love your first tip. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with all the other DIY kitchen ideas out there.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Seriously, right? Total over-analysis and paralysis. And then a “quick” project becomes the “project that sat in my garage for 9 months”! So glad I was able to just push through on this one 🙂

      Reply
  8. Randi Sowders

    I love this so much!!! It makes me want to make my own for my daughter even though she already has one! haha

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thanks Randi! I’ve always said “I want to make my own” whenever I see them on the internet, so it’s such an honor to hear that come from you. Thank you so much!

      Reply
  9. Michele @ Our Rosey Life

    All I can say is WOW and HOLY COW! I’m totally not showing my kids this post, because they will want to trade in their kitchen for this one.

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Thanks Michele!

      Reply
  10. Valerie

    Thanks for the the “this is not a quick and easy craft” disclaimer. Wow! You and you husband put a lot of work into this play kitchen, and it’s awesome!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Ha, yes, always good to know ahead of time that this isn’t quick or easy, right? But still worth it!

      Reply
  11. Marty

    Super helpful blog here! I will definitely recommend this to a few people I know who could use it. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Kristine Manley

    Amazing! This play kitchen is wonderful. As a child, I had an EasyBake Oven, but it did not compare to this one. Love it!

    Reply
  13. Kristine Manley

    Amazing! This play kitchen is wonderful. As a child, I had an EasyBake Oven but it did not compare to this one. I’ll share this post.

    Reply
  14. Julieane Hernandez

    Wow! I really enjoyed reading your article. Great kitchen transformation for only $90. At first when I saw the title, I wouldn’t believe it, but when I read the entire article. I was like “holy cow!” I was amazed!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Haha, thanks Julieane. It helps when you have stuff around the house. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Mindy Jollie

    Wow, this play kitchen looks really amazing! I especially like the little chalk board on the left side. It is neat to see that this play kitchen is so well built that you would be able to make it into a functioning kitchen once your children outgrow it. I am not very good at DIY projects though so I might just buy a professionally made kitchen for my daughter to play with.

    Reply
  16. Anthony

    Thank you for the tips, I have saved this and will try your guide.

    Reply
  17. Yeshi

    This could be something you and your partner could do on the side to make money.

    You’ve done beautiful work and other people love it to. Just saying!

    Reply
    • ChiWei

      Haha, thanks!

      Reply
  18. JaclynSmall

    I have checked your website and i have found some duplicate content, that’s why you don’t rank high in google’s search results, but there is
    a tool that can help you to create 100% unique articles, search for:
    Boorfe’s tips unlimited content

    Reply
  19. Sophon

    Wow, you are so detailed! That’s very helpful. Your play kitchen looks amazing! I am dedinitely gonna take this on. I know my little ones will love it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *