Play kitchen sets are a time tested toy that will delight most kids on Christmas morning. However, a completed toy kitchen can be costly – especially if you’re going the eco-friendly route. A less expensive option is to make your own play kitchen. You don’t need a ton of carpentry skills either. It’ll help if you know how to use a screwdriver and paint brush, but overall, there are many DIY play kitchen ideas out there that even a newbie crafter can make.
Below are some tips…
As with all homemade gifts, you should start early – and by early I mean yesterday – if you’re planning on giving the play kitchen on a specific holiday or birthday. Also, as with all homemade crafts and gifts, you can be sure that there will be hiccups in the process. You need to give yourself time to think problems through, fix them and find suitable eco-minded or used supplies.
Be safe when choosing used furniture to makeover:
Various used furniture can be amazingly transformed into a DIY play kitchen – for example, entertainment centers, bookshelves, tables, dressers, desks and more.
Used is awesome because it’ll lower your costs and it’s eco-friendly to boot. However, while some used furniture flaws can be overlooked and fixed, such as color, scratches and hardware, other issues may pose a much bigger safety problem. Before you buy used furniture make sure….
- It stands up safely and isn’t wobbly or ready to fall on a small child.
- It’s free of major problem areas like extremely loose parts such as legs or super rough splintery edges. Minor rough edges can be smoothed, but if an entire piece is splintery, move on.
- It’s free of chipping paint (unless you’re going to refinish and repaint it).
- It’s smooth with no rough edges or splinters; minor rough patches can be sanded out.
- It’s got drawers that easily slide in and out. If you’re not an experienced carpenter/fix-it-upper type, drawers can be a tough fix.
Also, make sure anything you attach to your kitchen is age appropriate and firmly attached. The last thing you want is for your toddler to start munching on play kitchen knobs.
Making your own DIY play kitchen means that the materials you use are up to you and you can use recycled goods too. To ensure your homemade play kitchen is as green as possible, do the following:
- Be aware of eco-safe and not so eco-safe materials used in play kitchens.
- If using any sort of plywood, make sure it’s as eco as possible. Some kind of plywood are way safer than others.
- Look to thrift stores or consignment shops for used furniture that can be adapted into a play kitchen OR broken down so that the parts can be used.
- Use organic fabric or used/scrap fabric for textile sections of your play kitchen.
- Use low-voc paints and glues.
DIY play kitchens can be surprisingly as expensive as a store bought child’s play kitchen. Luckily, there are lots of ways to save money on this project.
Set a budget: Homemade craft projects have a way of whirling out of cost control if you don’t set a budget and stick to it, so be sure to create a basic project budget before you start then find a tutorial that fits said budget.
Make a list: Jot down what you need for the perfect play kitchen. A list keeps you on track, organized, and helps keep your spending in check. Split your list into three areas – must haves – wants – and dream items. Must haves is anything you actually seriously need to build with. Wants are extra additions you’d like to include and dream items are very cool extras you might want to add if you have money left over.
Go used. As noted above, thrift stores, garage sales and your own home can be a treasure trove for inexpensive DIY play kitchen supplies. You can score used furniture for under $50 whereas wood from a building center can cost a lot more. Before you shop anywhere scour your own home for goods such as a piece of furniture you don’t use, scrap fabric, leftover paint or wallpaper, excess tiles from that home makeover you did and so on.
Go free: You can score lots of cool freebie items that will work well for a play kitchen. For example, as a kid, I built a DIY dollhouse and home building stores were always more than happy to give me their old, outdated wall paper books for free or for like a dollar. You can use wall paper samples for all kids of design stuff. Old paint chip books work too. Check freebie boxes at garage sales during the summer and ask if your friends have any leftover craft items they’re giving to Goodwill. Again, your own home is the best source of freebie play kitchen materials. For example, with a simple coat of paint and some glue, you can makeover old canisters or turn old curtains into an apron or shelf ruffles.
Ask the relatives to chip in: If you’re making a DIY play kitchen, let all your friends and family know so that they can get your child some cool play food or play kitchen dishes for the holiday. This cuts your costs when it comes to outfitting your finished kitchen with accessories and cooking supplies.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew:
Some DIY play kitchens are designed for newbies and some for more advanced crafters with wood cutting skills. Choose a play kitchen project that matches your skill level. Keep in mind that cutting holes in heavy duty used furniture, such as for a play kitchen sink is not easy.
If you pick a project that’s too tough, it’ll make you miserable and there’s a chance you won’t finish in time for the holidays. Below are some tips and tutorial choices…
- Read through a tutorial step-by-step to ensure you have all the space and tools required before you start.
- Consider bartering services with someone who is crafty if you need help.
- If you don’t have a wood shop, but would like to go the wooden route, you can work this out. Most staff at home building stores will cut wood down to size for you, so long as you’re buying the wood there.
- Talk to an associate at a home building store. Sometimes you can get lots of tips this way or even find a weekend workshop that relates.
Easy DIY play kitchens
- Plans for a sturdy cardboard play kitchen
- Another simple cardboard kitchen
- Redesigned furniture kitchen – easy if you have something to cut wood with
- Fairly simple shelf + table kitchen
- Super cute and simple design – made from an old side table/dresser.
- Crazy straight forward and easy flat style play kitchen idea.
- VERY easy little stove for a toddler. Don’t love the plastic, but do love the idea – I’m thinking you could use a thrift store wooden box instead of the plastic bin.
Intermediate DIY play kitchens
- Kid’s Play Kitchen
- Tons of play kitchen tutorials here
- Entertainment cabinet style play kitchen
- Bedside table play kitchen
- Ikea kitchen
Advanced DIY play kitchens
- A very professional design that will require some mad decor skills and an eye for little details.
- Vintage design
- Redesigned corner desk into play kitchen
- Wooden play kitchen
- Tall play kitchen
- Lovely play kitchen
If you feel like you can’t manage a DIY play kitchen, there are a few excellent low-cost, but still eco-friendly play kitchens out there you can purchase. See the links below.
- Affordable PlanToys Green Play Kitchen Center
- Most affordable green play kitchen sets
- A few affordable options in the ultimate play kitchen guide