Making a Play Kitchen

This Christmas, a little girl in my life receives a play kitchen of her very own, handbuilt just for her. It was a fun project and I thought I’d share it (and the pictures, of course!).

The inspiration for this project came from, I’ve built one of her other projects in the past and have plenty more on my lengthy todo list. In fact, for this project I bought her “handbuilt home” book on Kindle and used that, although an earlier version of the instructions is freely available here.

It’s made from wood, mostly MDF with pine for the smaller pieces. My local B&Q has a magical sawing machine and will do a number of cuts for free … however I hadn’t really done my homework and ended up doing a set of spatial calculations with unit conversions in the middle of the aisle – classy! However then I had a good start on correctly-dimensioned pieces and straight edges so it was worth the hassle. Next time I will look up online what sizes the wood comes in and do the maths in advance.

I haven’t done much woodwork before but I do know the key element of this skill: measure twice, cut once. Also I didn’t build this on my own, my co-conspirator was husband Kevin who is on much better terms with our circular saw than I am. This was such a fun project to share, especially with Kevin; we’ve been together so long that sometimes I forget that we were originally lab partners on an engineering degree at university – and we’re still a pretty good team when we get our teeth into something!

The two units begin very similarly – then one has a hole in the top for a sink (large dog bowl!) and the other has a door on it and hotplates. The sink unit is simplest, cut a hole for the sink before attaching the top to the unit. I did not know that we also needed a tap but luckily Uncle Kevin sorted that out while I was travelling! The sink skirt was a bit of a challenge, I have a sewing machine but I’ve never sewed ruffles before and the directions even in the book version of the instructions are a bit vague. Still, I think it was worth the effort and I got the very cute cupcakes fabric from the market in Leeds.

The second unit is the cooker, and it has more accessories. The cooker knobs are transistor knobs from maplin, attacked to free-rotating bolts put through from the back. The hotplates are actually plain coasters from a company that does laser-cutting of shapes, sprayed black and glued down. The door was very nicely done, here’s a photo showing the inside:

The door is made with pocket hole joints (I have a pocket hole jig, I can make literally anything now!!) to make the basic shape. Then we (Kevin) routed the inset for the “glass” which is actually the clear perspex piece of an A4 clipframe, and we screwed the perspex into place. I suspect this will be the first piece to get trashed as it won’t withstand little feet standing on it. The oven door handle is just a long cupboard handle (which sticks out handily enough to stop overextending the hinges at the bottom of the door. We put a ball catch on the top and it seems to work very nicely.

I also bought a cute teatowel with buttons on and made two smaller teatowels out of it, which was quite easy as I just kept three good sides and folded the other side over twice and sewed along there. The tiny washing up sponge was a normal size one cut in half. Also Ikea are doing a play kitchen this year so some the toys came from there – I did wonder at one point why we hadn’t just bought her that though :) They also did soft food, I think cuddly food is less annoying for adults to step on than plastic food.

At 16 months, I wasn’t sure if Emmie would quite know what to make of this kitchen immediately, although I hope she’ll play with it for many years to come. However we delivered it at the weekend and I think she understands:

Merry Christmas!

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