I have the best mom. Seriously.
Here she is:
And one of the reasons why is because she keeps stuff. Lots of stuff. Some stuff I'd rather forget, but mostly good stuff (hello old high school notes about ex boyfriends!). One of the best things she held onto was the play kitchen my brother and I had as kids. Lucky for me, I had her first grandchild so "Dibs!" (sorry, not sorry Marty). Included was a sink, a stove/oven, fridge, and cabinet/cupboard combo. Also a few flies and lots of dust, an unexpected bonus.
That said, I was a child of the 80s... and this play kitchen is a child of... the worst of the 80s? As far I as I could tell two of the four pieces were just stained plywood, and the other two had about 7 coats of a lovely mint paint, topped with some sort of brown stain, topped with another 300 layers of varnish. There was a lot of sanding.
As you can see, I took some artistic liberties in my childhood to increase the realism of the play kitchen with my stovetop settings, hot and cold faucets, and I had even drew on an electric coil in the bottom of the oven. My brother added less practical touches like stickers on the fridge, and carving his name on the base of the sink. Thanks bro. My Milwaukee Sander and MultiTool were life savers here, I went through so much sandpaper it was insane. The paint varnish combo gunked up the sand so fast I could maybe get 1/2 a square foot sanded before I needed a new sheet. Also, thanks to the humidity I was covered in a sandy, dusty minty paste every day for weeks. I considered installing a garbage disposal in the shower drain. ew.
After sanding all of the layers upon layers of paint off, I used a paint sprayer to apply two coats plus touch up of Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel in white. I also took the hardware, mostly hinges and screws, and spray painted them black. The easiest way to do this is by poking your screws through a piece of cardboard to keep them "heads up" for easy painting!
I love how it all turned out! It took a lot of sweat, some blood, and quite a few weeks, but I hope she will treasure it, get lots of play out of it, and if I'm lucky maybe her own kids will play with it one day.
From here I'll go piece by piece, and the oven will get its own post because there's just a lot going on there!
Before sanding the fridge I took off the old door pulls and filled and sanded the holes. One of the big changes I wanted to make was consistent hardware on all of the pieces to pull it together. Here is what I used from Amazon, Pandora - Square Pull Bar Handle Stainless Steel For Drawer Kitchen Cabinet Hardware. Of note, some of the pieces were missing screws (you get what you pay for, I guess) so I had to go buy more. Chances are good when ordering low quality stuff like this from China your hardware is built with the metric system, so check there for replacement machine screws!
Since magnets are a no-go on a wood fridge I used little 3M hooks. Shout out to Amy and Andy, and their pup Mak making an appearance on Harley's fridge! On top of the fridge is a small cake stand I found at TJ Maxx, similar to this one, and these little Antsy Pants Felt Cupcakes from Target.
Lets go inside!
On the doors I attached the plastic baskets from Target suction cup bath baskets - I removed the suction cups and just put a few screws through the holes. I stuck motion sensor lights in the freezer and on the shelves so when Harley opens the doors the lights turn on just like a real fridge!
Onto the fun stuff - here's all the yummy food and treats on the inside!
Melissa and Doug Frozen Treats Set
Melissa and Doug Favorite Condiments
Melissa and Dough Let's Play House Fridge Favorites
Target Antsy Pants Eggs
One of the first things we did to the sink was adding some upper shelving. I considered adding a pretend microwave like the Ikea DUKTIG but decided against it. We used 12" wide shelf MDF boards from Home Depot, built to the same height as the other cabinet, filled and sanded the holes and painted. We also removed the original hardware here, and filled and sanded those holes too.
I removed the original piece of countertop as well, to cut a new hole for the sink, and holes to put the new faucet through. One of my favorite parts of the sink is the countertop, which I wrapped with marble contact paper!
Harley has marble countertops.
The sink is a mixing bowl - be sure to get one with a lip on it so it doesn't fall through! I put a bead of silicon around the edge and put weights in the sink while it dried to hold it in place. The faucet is mounted using the same mounting nuts you'd use to install it on a real sink.
Once painted, I used Tic Tac Tiles Subway Tiles as a backsplash on a thin sheet of underlayment wood cut to size. I added stuck on lights that have a dim setting for that perfect kitchen mood lighting. I used the same style pulls from the fridge on the doors under the sink.
A few of the little details from the kitchen:
OXO Food Containers
Magnolia for Target Hand Towel
Antsy Pants Bowtie Pasta
Antsy Pants Ravioli
and some Vital Protiens Collagen so she can make her coffee like mommy!
Cabinet and Cupboard
The cabinet was redone very similarly to the kitchen sink. I removed the linoleum countertop and trim, and wrapped it in the marble contact paper. I used the Tic Tac Tiles again on the backsplash, as well as the same tap lights. I also replaced the door and drawer hardware with the same pulls I used on the fridge and sink.
Mother Hubbard's Cupboards (ha!) are pretty empty right now, but Harley plans to ask her grandma for some dishes for Christmas! (Mimi, are you listening?) I found this cute, perfectly sized little cutting board at TJ Maxx for a few bucks.
Okay, lets be honest, this is one of those 3x3 cube storage shelves that you can pick up at any big box store, but mine is from Home Depot. The wire baskets are Threshold by Target, the small size, and I thought they resembled cute grocery store shopping baskets! I also liked how you could see the contents when they were on the shelves, and I have the food somewhat organized by food group.
One of the most fun things we shopped for was the small appliances. These are all secretly located in some Pottery Barn's, not sold online! Fortunately Terry travels to DC for work a lot, and they were in stock at one of the stores in that area.
Blender Toaster Hand Mixer
Tea Pot (shown in the next section)
Pots and Pans Hand Tools
Mini Cooking Set
The melamine dishes are from Wal-Mart, and I actually bought them for our camper, but they fit in so well with the play kitchen I had to sneak them in for a few photos. There are more Antsy Pants Foods donuts, hot dogs, sandwiches, pears and strawberries, as well as the fruit basket and veggie basket from IKEA.
Last but not least - the pièce de résistance...
I call this my masterpiece because the most thought and effort went into planning and wiring the oven and stovetop to make it as realistic as possible. I used this blog post from Mom Writes Life as inspiration, so I can't take all the credit, but here's how I did it! A future post will go into greater detail of the electronics.
Each knob turns a burner on and off, and the center knob turns the oven lights on and off. I cut a window in the original oven door, and screwed a sheet of acrylic on the inside so you could see the oven lights working from the outside. I also mounted one of the motion lights on the oven ceiling, so the light would turn on when you put food in - just like a real oven!
Originally the oven shelf was a wood board, so I replaced it with a white wire shelf that I cut using my multitool from an old Closet Maid shelf I had sitting around. I zip tied it to the shelf supports because the back edge where I cut it is a little sharp, so I didn't want it to be removable.
How CUTE is that little Le Cruset stoneware dutch oven? This is also from the Pottery Barn play kitchen section. My dutch oven is green, so of course Harley's needed to green like mama's!
Here it is all together!
You can use so many of these tips and ticks on your own play kitchens - whether your build your own, bought it, or renovated something awesome for your kiddos! I'd love to see photos - tag me on Facebook or Instagram if you do - @PearlsNCotton