Dec 302011

A few days before Christmas I decided to make one last project for the kids. I had seen years ago, before I became a blogger, that someone had turned an entertainment center into a play kitchen. I held on to two entertainment centers throughout the years for just that purpose. I had only one problem.. I didn’t budget for this project.

Clif and I challenged ourselves this year to a Christmas budget of $100.00. We had 14.25 to spend on each child, to “enhance” the gifts we made. The money for Patrick was used to buy cars for his playmat, the money for Jade was used to purchase a few odds and ends for her kitchen, Sage as well since she would also play with the kitchen. The money set aside for the older girls bought jewelry making supplies to go with their jewelry boxes. There was no money for a play kitchen.

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Clif had one more challenge for me, knowing that I work better under pressure, he suggested we make the play kitchen from items we found in the house. This isn’t the first “free” or nearly free play equipment project we’ve done, but I thought surely it would be the toughest. I looked at him like he was crazy, and then set about scrounging for supplies. I keep a large amount of crafting materials in the house at all times, but I really didn’t think I had anything I could repurpose for the play kitchen. I was wrong.

Make A Play Kitchen

The lids from two ranch dressing bottles became the kitchen stove knobs. I hot glued the knobs onto wood skewers and left the skewers long enough to turn naturally. Two holes were drilled near the stove and they were installed.

I painted the whole entertainment center with “oops paint” which I hoard in a small corner of the garage. This particular paint cost me $1.75. The entertainment center was a gift from Clif’s mom 6 years ago. It lived a full life as an entertainment center and I’m convinced it was destined to become a play kitchen.

We removed two shelves and lowered a third to make the individual compartments. The shelves were secured with pocket screws so we literally did nothing more than remove the screws and lower the shelves. We didn’t even use a level, it was too cold to go to the barn and get it. We just eye-balled it from a few angles and screwed the screws back in. Clif cut the sink hole using the table saw.

I decoupaged scrapbooking paper onto the sink cabinet. The border around the stove in later photos is also scrabokking paper. I used Elmer’s school glue as my decoupage medium. Later I coated the whole kitchen in several coats of Polyacrylic. I had the Polyacrylic left over from our DIY kitchen job.

The sink? It used to be a storage tub in the well house. I know, I know.. I kinda cheated by going “out” of the house, but we NEEDED a sink!

The stove burners are Crisco lids. I glued white printer paper inside them to make the colored marker show up. I drew on top with orange permanent marker. I glue those cutout cardboard pieces inside to support the lids and beef them up so they wouldn’t be flimsy.

At this stage in the project I was cursing myself. Why, of WHY, didn’t I think to paint the “stove” BEFORE we installed it? Painting it after was a challenge. I used acrylic paint I had on hand and several coats of polyacrylic to seal it. The countertop next to it is a piece of linoleum that we received free. I’ve also seen peel and stick tile used, and paper cut to squares to make tiles.

The door and stove was made from a re-purposed cabinet door insert. We saved the kitchen cupboard doors from out kitchen remodel thinking we might need them. Whew thank God for foresight! I also sewed curtains for the play kitchen. The curtains are operable, but they are strung on a strap, not a curtain rod. I didn’t have a spare. The wooden stars cover the strap ends so you can’t see them. The curtain rod under the sink? A spare piece of 1/4 inch PVC.

So there you have it, an entertainment center turned into a play kitchen, with items found around the house. The darker areas on the paint are where I put two or three coats of polyacrylic. I wanted to make sure that those areas were coated well to prevent scratches. You can’t see it in person, but my camera flash picks it up nicely.

All in all the project took us two days. We are looking for an additional entertainment center to complete a second for the local Battered Women’s Shelter.

The only problem we had with the unit is that the oven door, looked like a good place to sit to the smaller kids. We took the door off and will reinstall it later. If you had to purchase the paint and some odds and ends you could complete this project at home for $30.00. I’d say that’s money well spent! On a lark we rearranged the furniture in the play room, not only did the kids get a play kitchen, but a play house as well. What do the kids think of the play kitchen? See for yourselves!


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