Recently I had been thinking about getting JJ a kitchen set to play with, since he's starting to out-grow the bells and whistles kind of toys and instead he's now gravitating toward simple toys that he controls and can pretend with. Of course, I am loving this, because nothing starts up a migraine for me like those beeping, bopping, booping toys. I didn't want one of those crappy plastic kitchens that makes noises and breaks and needs batteries and is awful. I wanted a nice solid piece of furniture that would last JJ and potential siblings through years of imaginative play. And I wanted to do it for a fairly cheap price and get it used, if possible (cheaper and greener).
So back in September Jim and I scored a kitchen set off Craigslist for $60 (originally about a $250 set). It had a fridge and a stove, and was solid wood (made by a company in Monroe, NC--just up the road from us). The only problem was the finish of the wood was tired and the paint details were wearing away. While I like the look of wood, we have a lot of wood furniture, and I didn't want it competing with that stylistically. I decided to paint it white, and fill in some of the details after. This is where the adventure started.
I decided that he needed to have a sink, since one of his favorite activities is turning the faucet on and off. So I was going to convert a printer cart to a 3rd piece as a sink. 3 big pieces of furniture for a play kitchen? That seems like too much. This is a lot of furniture for a kid's kitchen. (ignore the octagonal table in the front--no updates on that front yet)
So I decided to re-purpose the stove top and make it the sink/faucet/counter space, while still keeping the oven underneath. Awesome plan.
For the fridge, I decided to add some chalkboards on the front so JJ could make grocery lists, menus, etc. (or so I can write him sweet notes each morning--whichever, right?) But then the painter's tape didn't hold up so well while I was painting, and the paint bled through and created a weird border.
So then I was bothered by 2 things:
-The ugly paint job on the chalkboards (and also the fact that I mis-taped and made the right side an inch narrower than the left. So I decided to add a chalkboard ledge and hide the ugly paint job.
-The oven opening like a cabinet and not like an oven door. It just looked like a sink cabinet with a bunch of knobs on the front. That didn't make sense. So I decided to make a door that would open horizontally with a plexi-window and a handle.
Post-original makeover, pre-final makeover picture:
I also wanted to make him a little hot plate, so when it was time to cook mommy something delicious, he would have the right tools. I found a cute towel at Target, used paint and accessories that I already had, and tada! An awesome kitchen for my little man!
Notice that the oven is lit from within? A little tap light from my kitchen desk did the trick there!
JJ ready to cook up something yummy!
Kitchen set: $60
White primer: $0 (already owned)
Glossy White Paint: $7
Spray paint for hinges, handles, trim: $0 (already owned)
Chalkboard paint: $0 (already owned)
Wooden circle for hotplate: $4
Trivet for hotplate: $0 (paid with Amazon points. Otherwise, $10)
Bucket, utensils, plastic food, numbered bins: $0 (already owned)
Stainless bowl: $8
Black plastic buckets: $4
Wood for oven door: $3
Hand towel: $3
I only wanted to spend $100 total, but it turned out way better than I thought it would, and I bought more accessories than I had originally planned for, so an extra $9 is no sweat. Also, I learned how to use a jigsaw and a miter saw during this project, so I think that the experience alone is worth $9. I now feel like I can build anything that won't actually have to support human weight (once you get into that kind of stuff, I feel like I still need some supervision).
I think it's way better than anything I could buy out in the world today. The IKEA kitchen for $100 is nowhere close to as awesome as this. Can't wait for years of fun with this set!!!
Another project I'd been thinking about for a while is how to get JJ more jazzed about using his train set from IKEA. He has a lot of fun with it, but gets frustrated/annoyed by the track portion. He can't yet fit the pieces together, but easily takes them apart if we do it for him. I had thought about getting (or building) a train table, but that only elevates the problem, not eliminates it. So then I thought about just screwing the tracks to either a table or a board and having him play on that. After dealing with the kitchen for a solid month, I wasn't too inclined to make/buy another piece of furniture for JJ to play with, so I was leaning toward train board. Then I saw a similar project on Young House Love, and I was sold! I can totally do something close to that! So I bought a pre-cut board at Home Depot for $8, spray painted it (with spray paint that we already had in a bunch of different colors) to look like space--because Space Train is totally a thing.
Then Jim and I screwed the track to the board (from the bottom, so the screws wouldn't show), and I covered the bottom in felt, so it wouldn't scratch the coffee table or floor. And it's a total hit!
JJ's favorite part is rolling the trains down the hill, then making them go through the tunnel too.
Felt: $0 (already owned)
Spray Paint: $0 (already owned)
Screws: $0 (already owned)
Then finally I bought a nice Lane coffee table for our front living room, but it had an ugly laminate top (original) on nice legs. So I decided to paint the top and tighten and re-stain the legs. I think it turned out pretty great, even though the top paint job was a little sloppier than I would have liked.
Legs with no top
Project finished! On the right side of the pic, you can see how well the table legs match our awesome chairs (which are still sporting Peanuts sheets until the end of the month).
So that's it for now. I've been busy! I've got a lot of plans for the house, but it's all a work in progress. No timeline!