Monday, July 30

Sweet & Simple Play Kitchen Plans

Kids love toys. And moms love beautiful toys. So this post is for all the parents out there just as much as it's for the kids! Today we're sharing plans for this sweet and simple little play kitchen. 

Any parent knows how easily toys can overrun a home. Part of that comes from the number of toys (which is why we do a toy purge several times a year to help keep the clutter down), but sometimes we overlook how much the style of toys impacts our home. We know toys will be left out during the day. No doubt about that. But when those toys are easy on the eyes, they feel more like part of the decor and less like a mess. In fact, some toys are so pretty we leave them out full time! We have a set of wooden dump trucks from a yard sale that live on the window seat in our living room. They get played with because they are right there in front of the boys, and I don't mind seeing them out one bit!

But let's be real, not all of our toys are so simplistic and beautiful. Not by a long shot. We have a whole herd of beloved PJ mask toys that get just as much play time as this kitchen. But we've found any step we can take in that direction (especially with larger pieces like a kitchen) helps make our house feel more calm and put-together. Even with a play kitchen in the dining room.

Yep, we're keeping this guy right in the dining room that opens up to our kitchen. I recently read the book Design Mom (so good! I got it at the library or you can buy it on Amazon) when I came across the idea and knew it would be perfect for our family. So I started looking for a play kitchen that I would love just as much as my kids - which meant it needed to have some fun features with a simple style and beautiful design, plus a small footprint.

But after a little searching, I wasn't finding the kitchen of my dreams for the price I wanted to pay (which was not a lot).

By building my own I was able to get the perfect size and give it all the features I thought my kids would get a kick out of. Like an oven (with a window!) that fits their wooden baking sheet:

The oven is 11 3/4" wide and just fits our Melissa & Doug cookie baking sheet. If you have a specific item you'd like to fit make sure you measure the item ahead of time!

I also found little bread pans at Dollar Tree that are a perfect fit for the oven. The boys have loved real pans for their play, plus we can store some of the food in them. 

The other side fits taller items like their beloved wooden mixer.

The backsplash has hooks for pots and spoons, and a green thrift store flower pot is perfect for wrangling the rest of the utensils (plus it makes their kitchen feel more realistic since we use a crock for spoons by our stove).

I used thin plywood for the burners and a metal bowl from dollar tree for the sink (Go ahead and buy a back-up sink or two. If it gets lost or damaged you can just pop in a replacement.)

One end has a few nails for hanging other items like a dishtowel (I'm planning to make matching oven mitts with a second towel). The boys also have a small wooden cutting board and felt basket they've started hanging there.

All that fun is wrapped up in a neat little package that takes up just over 2' x 4' of floor space!

Keep in mind this is a small kitchen. We took the "if it fits, it stays" approach and ditched a few food items that didn't make the cut. They still have plenty to play with and everything stores away neat and tidy. Basically we all win. Our food and dishes have all been collected over the last few years and, much like the design of the kitchen, we tried to stick to beautiful felt and wood pieces that look great and will stand the test of time. And the test of four little boys. It still feels weird to type "four boys" instead of three!  

Here are our favorites that all fit into the kitchen:

Ready to make your own? Here's what you need:

1 sheet 3/4" plywood
1 - 1x2 @ 10'
1 - 1x3 @ 4'
scrap of thin plywood for burners (or you can use the scraps from this project)
8x10 plexiglass AND small 1/2" wood screws (optional for oven door)
2 sets of small hinges
2 cabinet pulls (we used wooden ones)
1 magnetic cabinet clasp
metal bowl or baking dish (for the sink)
nails or cup hooks
wood glue
wood filler
1 1/4" wood screws
finishing nails
Kreg Jig and 1 1/4" pocket hole screws (optional but makes a prettier finish)
JIGSAW - I used a jigsaw for several  parts of this project. You can definitely build it without this tool, but you'll have to skip a few features like sink and glass oven door. 

Overall dimensions: 26.5" wide x 33.5" tall x 19.5" deep

Measure twice, cut once (seriously, though). Use glue in every step (be careful to clean up any drips, because they will mess up your finish at the end!). Read through all the instructions before you begin and double check everything as you go. Use 1 1/4" screws unless otherwise indicated. Pre-drill and countersink all your screws. Be safe, have fun, and let me know if you have any questions!

Cut List:
(A) 1  -  plywood @ 22 1/2 x 11" (back)
(B)  2  -  plywood @ 12 x 11" (sides)
(C)  1  -  plywood @ 24 x 12" (bottom)
(D)  4  -  1x2  @  18 3/4"  (legs)
(E)  1  -  1x2  @  22 1/2"  (trim)
(F)  1  -  plywood @ 12 x 11" (divider)
(G)  1  -  plywood  @  11 3/4 x 11 1/4"  (shelf)
       1  -  plywood  @  10 x 11 1/4"  (shelf)
(H)  1  -  plywood @ 26 1/2 x 14 1/2"  (top)
(I)  1  -  plywood @ 13 1/4 x 14"  (backplash)
(J)  2  -  1x3 @ 12"  (sides)
(K)  1  -  1x3 @ 11 3/4" (top shelf)
(L)  1  -  plywood @ 11 1/2 x 10 3/4"  (oven door)
(M) 1  -  plywood @ 9 3/4 x 10 3/4"  (door)
Thin plywood scraps cut into 4" circles for burners

Start by attaching the back (A) to the sides (B). Use a Kreg Jig to make pocket holes along the sides, top, and bottom of the back board (A), and along the top, bottom, and sides of the side boards (B). Use pocket hole screws to connect the boards, making sure the pocket holes are facing in. If you don't have a Kreg Jig, just drill through the side boards into the ends of the back board with regular 1 1/4" wood screws. Don't forget to countersink them!

Next attach the bottom (C). Start by drilling pocket holes along the front edge of the bottom board for later, but make sure they are on the bottom of the board so they'll be hidden underneath. Then attach the board using the pocket holes around the bottom of the back and side boards. Any time it's a pocket hole, make sure you use the pocket hole screws. Ok? So I'm not going to type that for every step. You guys have got this!  If you don't have a Kreg Jig, flip the whole thing over and drill through the bottom board into side and back boards with regular 1 1/4" wood screws.

NOTE: if you have a larger drill you may not be able to fit inside the cabinet to use pocket holes on the top later. If you're worried about space, go ahead and attach the top with pocket holes first and then attach the bottom with regular screws, following the instructions in italics above.

Next attach the legs (D). Line them up with the top of the cabinet and keep them flush with the inside face of the side boards. Attach them using the pocket holes along the front and back edges of the side boards. Don't forget the glue! If you don't have a Kreg Jig, just drill through the front of the legs into the side boards with regular 1 1/4" wood screws. I don't mind using this method especially for parts I plan to paint, like these legs. Once you cover the screw heads with wood filler they will blend in pretty seamlessly when it's painted. Just know that if you are planning to stain your wood, the wood filler never takes the stain quite the same as the rest of the boars so you'll have a small discolored circle anywhere there is a screw. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of. :)

Attach the trim (E) across the bottom of the cabinet, keeping the top edge flush. Use the pocket holes underneath the bottom board for a seamless finish. If you don't have a Kreg Jig, just drill through the trim board into the bottom board with regular 1 1/4" wood screws.

Next is the divider (F). Drill pocket holes along the top, bottom, and back side of the divider. Attach it into the cabinet using the pocket holes along the back and bottom of the divider. It should have a space 11 3/4" wide on the left and 10" wide on the right. Make sure the divider is straight by measuring at all four corners! If you don't have a Kreg Jig, drill through the back and bottom of the cabinet into the edges of the divider.

Now you can attach the top (H). Ignore the fact that the shelves are already in for this pic. I realized the hard way that the top has to go first if you are using pocket holes. Oops! So go ahead and center the top on the cabinet, then attach it using the pocket holes around the top of the back, side, and divider boards. I found it helpful to flip the whole thing upside down for this step! If you don't have a Kreg Jig, you can drill down through the top into  the front, back, and divider boards with regular 1 1/4" wood screws. Keep in mind what I said above, that if you're planning to stain the piece (or leave it natural like I did) the wood filler will never quite match. Again, no biggie, but you have been warned. :) Your other option would be attaching the top with finishing nails and glue. You won't have holes to fill, but I would be careful not to lift this project by the top when you move it because they may not hold this much weight!

To finish the top, I used a jigsaw to slightly round the corners. Then I cut out an opening for the sink. I used a metal bowl from dollar tree (you can use any small bowl or pan with a lip). Just turn your sink upside down and trace around the top of the bowl where you want it to go. Then cut slightly inside that line with the jigsaw. Set your sink in the hole and admire your handiwork! 

NOW install the shelves (G). I only did a shelf on the left so we could fit taller items on the right, but I included measurements for both up in the cut list. So do what you will! I actually installed my shelf with finishing nails, by nailing through the sides and back into the edges of the shelf (because nail guns are so fun!) but you can also use pocket holes around the back and sides of the shelf, if your drill is small enough to work in that space.

If you con't have a Kreg Jig, you can also drill through the back and sides into the edges of the shelf. If you want your two shelves the same height, it may be easier to buy a longer 1x2 and cut small support pieces to attach to the sides like this:

Go ahead and sand down this unit before you install the doors. It's easier than working around them later!

Now you need to make the doors. And I just want you guys to know that I couldn't find my good glasses so I had to wear these old scratched goggles that I could barely see out of. Ok? This is my excuse for what comes next.

I cut this super wonky window in the oven door. My bad, guys. But you know what? It still works perfectly. If there's one thing I do with this blog, I just really want you guys to know that it's okay if things aren't totally perfect. Don't sweat it, ok? And I totes left the door just like this and moved on.

Anywho, to make the window just draw out the shape you want on the door and cut it out with a jigsaw. I drew it up with the measurements below, but when it came time to cut it out I just traced my 8x10 sheet of plexiglass on the back side of the door, then cut the opening about 3/4" inside that line.  You can skip the window completely if you don't have a jigsaw.

Go ahead and sand down both doors before you install them. Don't forget to sand around the window opening!

Center the plexiglass over the back side of the window opening and attach it around the edges with the small 1/2" wood screws.

Then you can install your doors! Center the door in the opening and use two hinges per door. I made the left door swing down like an oven and the right door swing to the right. You can install magnetic cabinet latches to help keep the doors shut if you'd like (especially for the oven door so it doesn't fall open onto little toes!).

You're almost done! You stop here and call it a day for a more minimal kitchen, or keep going to add the backsplash like I did.

Start by rounding the top edge of the backsplash (I). I folded a piece of paper in half and cut a curve along it, then traced that onto to the board to make sure it ended up even. Cut along the curved line with a jigsaw. Drill pocket holes along the bottom edge of the backsplash (make sure you assemble this section with these pocket holes facing the back).

Drill pocket holes along the bottom edge of the backsplash sides (J) and both ends of the backsplash shelf (K).

Use the pocket holes in shelf (K) to attach it to the sides (J) about 1" down from the top of the sides. If you don't have a Kreg Jig, just drill through the sides into the ends of the shelf board with 1 1/4" wood screws.

Then attach this shelf unit to the backsplash board. Line up the bottom edges and use finishing nails to nail through the back board into the shelf frame. Don't forget the glue! You can also use wood screws for this step. I don't recommend a Kreg Jig here because holes from nails or wood screws can be hidden on the back of the backsplash.

Sand down the backsplash unit.

Use the pocket holes along the bottom of the backsplash and sides to attach it to the kitchen countertop. I centered it over the oven door. If you don't have a Kreg Jig, you can use finishing nails angled in around the base of the backsplash pieces. 

Finally, you can add burners (if you want to).  

I cut circles of thin plywood about 4" wide (I traced a sandpaper disk from our palm sander, but anything about that size will work!). You could also use scraps of thicker wood, or just paint the burners directly on the countertop! I used two sizes of kid's cups to trace rings onto the burners then painted the rings.

If you haven't done it yet, go ahead and fill any holes with wood filler. This is a great step to get the kids involved with!

Let the wood filler dry, then maker sure everything is sanded really smooth. I keep saying it because it's true - sanding makes an enormous difference in the finish of your final product! Don't skip it! I like to start with a 60 grit paper, then 120, and finally 220.

Ready for paint!

You can paint the whole thing or keep it simple and natural. The play kitchen I saw in "Design Mom" had green legs and I loved it. Because seriously: green 4-eva. So I pulled out two quarts of leftover green paint from our forest gallery wall to test on the legs.

I chose the green on the left because it perfectly matched the little pot I found for their utensils. I let the boys help paint the legs (I did the parts near wood I wanted to keep raw).

Then I used the same green to paint the rings on the burners.

The last step was adding a few nails in the backsplash and on the side for hanging things.

All done! Get ready for all kinds of homemade cookie soups and fish pancakes. Yum.

If you're looking for other handmade toys that are simple and beautiful, check out our play apron and oven mitt tutorial, wooden treehouse, rag doll pattern, peg doll camping set, altoid tin toys,  and  Jaime Costiglio's Handbuilt Holiday Series!

Speaking of handmade toys, these boys take after their momma! We got the cutest library book called "Hank Finds and Egg" and the boys had to get out some clay and make little toys to match the book.

Look at these tiny little campfires and beds and eggs. I can't even.

Have you ever made toys? I'm always looking for Christmas ideas (because #itsnevertooearly) so tell me your favorites!

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