For Maggie’s first birthday, we gave her this little kitchen. She’s forever opening doors, pouring things to and from bowls and cups, and sorting out bits and pieces so we figured she would love it. And it’s proven to be an awesome toy for not only her, but for Hank also. When we were talking about a play kitchen I wanted to make sure that it was two things — functional and beautiful. We wanted to make sure it would look great no matter where in the house it ended up, but also that it wasn’t so modern and “designed” that the kids wouldn’t be interested in playing with it. So this is how it all ended up, and I’m pretty happy with it so far!
For about a split second, I considered building a kitchen for her from scratch, but I just couldn’t muster up the guts for that. So we decided to get one with a really great base and customize it from there. We got this one from Teamson Kids and it was a perfect starting point. I liked that it came with fixtures that were already gold, so I wouldn’t have to use spray paint on it (I could just imagine the spray paint chipping off and making its way into Mags’ mouth). I also liked that it had a little counter space, lots of doors to open, knobs to turn, and an actual functioning ice dispenser, which has turned out to be her favorite thing about the whole kitchen. What it was missing for me were shelves, a backsplash, and a little sophistication. But that was all easy enough to achieve. Read on for our step-by-step hack of this little play kitchen, and our favorite kitchen accessories (which our kids also love).
- play kitchen
- mdf board
- hobby wood for shelves
- wood glue
- paint and paint brushes
- spray adhesive
- black paint pen
Step 1: Start by cutting (or having your local hardware store cut) your mdf board to your desired width and height for a backsplash. Our kitchen came with a refrigerator that was a separate piece but we wanted it to look like one large unit, so we cut the mdf to the width of the oven portion of the kitchen and the height of the fridge portion.
Step 2: Cut wood for your shelves. Cut two long boards the length you desire. Cut four isosceles triangles a little less than the depth of your shelf. Glue and screw the triangles to the bottom of your shelves.
Step 3: Paint the shelves if desired.
Step 4: Cover your mdf with wallpaper (you could also paint, but be aware that mdf can tend to soak up paint and bow a bit). We covered our mdf with spray adhesive and just applied the wallpaper right to that, rather than actually applying with wallpaper glue. Saves lots of time and headache! Fold the excess paper around the back of the mdf to create clean edges. (We used some leftover wallpaper from our actual kitchen wall!)
Step 5: Screw the mdf into the back of the kitchen unit, keeping it flush with the floor.
Step 6: Screw the shelves into the mdf board from the back at your desired height. Use clamps to help keep them in place as you screw them in if necessary.
Step 7: Add any other details you liked! I didn’t love the red temperature marks on the oven knobs so I used a black paint pen to paint over them. I also didn’t like the display over the ice maker, so we cut a sheet of magnetic paper to size and glued it in place there instead. Now Maggie uses it for magnets.
That’s all we did! It was really a quick, simple way to hack this little kitchen into something special. We filled it with lots of kitchen tools and play food which Mags and Henry just love. See our list below! xoxo
Hape Garden Salad Wood Play Kitchen Play Set
Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit Set
Melissa & Doug Fridge Play Food
Hape Play Toaster (with Knife, Butter, & Honey) or this one in white
Melissa & Doug Scoop and Stack Ice Cream Set
Hape Mixer with Flour & Sugar
Melissa & Doug Felt Food Sandwich Set
P.S. Photos of Mags on her birthday (the day she got the kitchen) and then last week. There’s only four months difference! Cue all the mom tears.