Wooden play kitchen, improvised.

We’ve gone through a few play kitchens over the past few years. Our first play kitchen was a plastic Little Tikes Family kitchen garage sale find that served it’s purpose, was big and bulky and was, well, plastic.

Then I found a very cute, very cheaply made retro looking kitchen on clearance. In this picture, it looks quite nice.

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But, not barely a year old, the knobs were falling off, the faucet handles constantly loosened up too much, one of the door handles fell off and a few of the burner pieces were loosening up and threatening to fall off.

Yes, you get what you pay for, I do know that. But the funny thing on that one was the original price tag was $100. I’m so glad I paid a fraction of that price otherwise I really would have been upset. I thought about putting more money into it and replacing the broken things, but then I thought, that’s more money I’m putting into something that realistically has a life span of only 2 more years. And my 6 year old was having to kneel down to use it when she felt like playing with it.

And, no matter how durable the plastic toy kitchens are, I’m not going back. I am trying to go a more natural route with some of our playthings (legos, a few playmobil toys and marble runs aside). After all the recalls on lead painted toys, I made an effort to make toys last Christmas and get rid of bags and bags of plastic toys. It was hard, believe me, because I love toys, even if they are plastic. But, I wanted to do it. Better to be safe than sorry. And we had way too many anyhow. So it was helpful to scale back.

I got rid of the cheap plastic food, and replaced them with a small set of wooden cutting food and some fabric foods I have made like this:

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But I learned something when I purged the plastic. I learned about why I should move towards good quality wood and handmade toys. They just feel better to the touch and they are good for the environment too. Yes, I know I just recently bought a plastic marble run and it goes against these thoughts, but I don’t know of many wooden versions with gears, which was one of the main reasons I bought a plastic one.

So, all this talk about wooden vs. plastic playthings brings me back to my original point. The improvised wooden play kitchen.

I have been scouting around for quite a while for something I could re-purpose into a play kitchen. I had a really hard time justifying another purchase of an expensive but lovely wooden kitchen like these at Nova Natural Toys. While beautiful, I just couldn’t justify the expense for something that may have only about 2 years worth of play value left.

So instead, I decided to look for substitutes. Something I could change back from a kitchen back into functional furniture. So at a local consignment shop I found a hand painted wood beside table that will be converted into a refrigerator with a door and a shelf, and a hand painted cabinet that will be converted into a stove/oven combo with the addition of a shelf. The cooktop was Alex Toys and purchased at a discount store that I had picked up with the intention of using it on top of something like this cabinet. And the bonus is that my 6 year old no longer has to kneel to use it as it’s taller.

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The interior (hubby promised to make me some shelves for both).

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And the top (I love the fact that we have a drawer for the utensils). I don’t like the fact that we still have plastic cookware, but maybe for one of their birthdays. I’m thinking of this set.

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You don’t necessarily even have to find a cooktop like that one. You could further improvise by painting burners on or recycling old cd’s. A few drawer pulls can be used as knobs. Kind of like this play kitchen at Family Fun.com

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6 Responses to Wooden play kitchen, improvised.

  1. KatieMae says:

    WOW! Big up – excellent job Mama!

    I really need to hunt Freecycle & Craig’s List to find similar pieces for a nice play kitchen. We also have a big plastic kitchen set that cost me $5 at a garage sale… and I covet the ones from Nova Naturals too… but neither is realist, long-term, so I hope whatever we make for our kids looks as nice as yours! I love it!

  2. growinginpeace says:

    Thank you! I’ll post pics when hubby adds shelves too.

    I’ll go and measure it so you get an idea of what to look for. Nothing stinks worse than buying something that’s too small or too big to be useful.

  3. Hans says:

    wow, that is so neat. I really like it🙂 Wooden toys and little kitchens rock. I really love how kids don’t need much, their super creative minds and fantasy make up for it all. That’s kind of what most parents that are plugged into the “Walmart industry” forgot about.

    Tha fabric foods look really fun too… a night well spent on the sewing machine.

    Cheers, Hans

  4. growinginpeace says:

    Thank you Hans. Good luck with your toy block business. I hope you do well. I may have to see if I can add to our block collection. I bet they would look stellar if I used the all natural beeswax polish I have on them.

  5. Brillant, brillant idea for a play kitchen. You’re a genius with the sewing machine. Great way to improvise and reuse. I’ve been inspired. Thanks for sharing! ~Sako

  6. growinginpeace says:

    Thank you Sako. I don’t know about being a genius with a sewing machine, though🙂. The fabric fruits/veg came from a 1980’s McCall’s Holiday pattern 7274. The first photo (picture with the donut, eggs, bacon and pop tart, etc…) came from ideas I found online and were hand sewn with felt and embroidery floss. Come to think of it, I should post the tutorials for the donut and some others that are in progress.

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