Friday, January 20, 2012

Entertainment Center to Play Kitchen

I am still a little girl at heart. It makes me laugh that now as an adult, I can still get excited over cute play dishes and food, despite the fact that I get to "play house" cooking and doing dishes everyday.

Three years ago, when Michelle and I were at IKEA, we just couldn't say no to buying all of the toy pots and pans that they had there. I was probably 3 months pregnant with my first baby, and Michelle wasn't even married yet. So, basically we were indulging ourselves as a tribute to our childhood, knowing that it would still be years before they would actually be played with.


Then, I had my first baby girl. I was so excited to start giving her all of the fun things that I was imagining for her. Ana White posted plans for a cute play kitchen that I was ready to start building for my six-month old even though we were living in a tiny two-bedroom apartment at the time. Then reality set in, and I realized that there was no need to rush things. Over the next year or so, I started filing away all of the cute play kitchens that everyone in blogland was making for their children. I was particularly inspired by this cute kitchen that was built from Ana White's plans.

I also found inspiration from all of the re-purposed play kitchens that I saw. There are so many creative and resourceful people out there turning nightstands, cupboards, and old entertainment centers into toy kitchens. After all of that, I knew how I could create a play kitchen with the look and feel that I wanted in an economical and resourceful way. 

In the spring of 2005, I was a newly wed and my parents' neighbors graciously gave us an old entertainment center that they were no longer using. Over the next six years, that little enertainment center was well-used. We handed it off to some friends when we moved, only to rescue it from the rain and weather when they abandoned it two years later. We used it again for awhile as an entertainment center until we upgraded to a television that wouldn't fit on it. Then it was used as storage for miscalleanous items until it was  passed off to my younger brother to use in his college apartment. This time I told him that I wanted it back when he was done with it because I had a project idea for it. So, in May of 2010, when we bought our  home, I ended up with the "little entertainment center that could" once again. This time it sat in my garage for a year until I was finally ready to give it the makeover that it deserved.

Unfortunately, I can't find a before picture of it, but the one below is pretty close to what it looked like, except that mine had doors on the long part of the L, a back, and was a little more dated.  Also, the tall part of mine was one piece with adjustable shelves, and the long section didn't have a divider.

I really wanted to finish the play kitchen for my 2-year old's birthday and came pretty close, but I got stuck on trying to make the fridge doors work, so she received all of the IKEA dishes and felt food with no kitchen to play with it in. I kept planning on finishing it, but I was pregnant again so it kept getting moved lower on the priority list. By this time, it was almost Christmas (6 months past the birthday deadline) and I was super motivated to get it done for the holiday. With some help from my husband, we finished it just in time. It was actually kind of embarassing how close I had been all along, just letting it sit when it probably would have only taken 2-3 hours to finish it up. So I finally had an inexpensive (probably around $40 for supplies) homemade play kitchen for my girls. 

My two-year old loves it, and has already spent hours baking  cupcakes and making lunch. There are still just a few spots that need touch-up paint, and the right fridge door still doesn't close all the way, but overall I am pretty happy with the way that it turned out. I have been saving some random plastic containers here and there that I am in the process of making labels for so that she has more food for the refridgerator. I can do another post on some of the details later, but some of my favorite things are: 
  • The faucet was salvaged from a family member who was getting new ones
  • The oven racks were only 50 cents each, a two-pack of cooling racks from the dollar store
  • The shelf to hold spoons and dishes
  • There is plenty of room to store dishes, food, and other treasures
  • The bright colored fabric in the curtain to cover the cupboard

Linking to this party at Design Dazzle. 


  1. I can't tell you how much I love this project :) Like you need another idea...but I took one of the big boxy entertainment centers and turned it in to a dress up station. would also make an awesome puppet theater. Just sayin' :D

    1. Micki,
      Thanks. That would be really fun to add a dress up station to my playroom, and I know that my little girl would love it.


  2. That is just adorable! Thank you so much for sharing that at the Sunday Stop Party! Look for it next week when I feature it and you!!! Great job!

  3. Mandi,
    You were featured at The "Sunday Stop" Linky party.
    Come by for a visit and pick up a featured button. Hugs,

  4. Stopping over from your feature at Joy2Journey to tell you that little kitchen is AWESOME!


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