Last Christmas, I was trying to think of a DIY present I could make for my 14-month daughter. I wanted to create something that both my husband and I could help make, and that would incorporate materials we already had at home. It was also really important to us to make something that would allow for creative play as she grew. We decided on a play kitchenette!
Creating the kitchenette
Once we had decided on a kitchenette, we started scouting out Pinterest and DIY blogs to gather inspiration from other people who had created a similar thing. There was a multitude of fancy options and before long, we decided that the more simple the better. My husband sketched the design based on some lumber that he had leftover from other home projects and incorporated a sink, an oven, and a cabinet with a shelf for storage. I wish I could give more of a recap of the actual building, but that was all him. (It sure helps to have a handy husband!)
I had fun scouring secondhand stores to find elements that would be fun in creating the illusion of a kitchen. We went to our local Habitat for Humanity’s Rebuilding Center
and found things like cabinet handles, towel rack, the soap dispenser that we turned into a sink, and knobs that I used as the dials on the stove. Most of these things were under a dollar each. I just had to look at them with new eyes!
Filling the kitchenette
Next came time for the play food, dishes, and utensils! We were gifted some play food by friends whose children had outgrown their play kitchenettes. In addition, as my daughter has grown, I have had fun making simple food out of felt, like tea bags, fried eggs, and pasta. Some of her favorite things to play with have been things I have found in our recycling bin, like egg cartons, baking powder tins, spice containers, and chip tubes (like from Pringles). These are wonderful to add because they are free, keep things out of the waste stream, and It doesn’t matter if they get a little too loved in play!
For utensils and dishes, we bought some from Ikea and I continued to find others at thrift stores. Another time we were served tea while on a flight, and I saved the little plastic cups. When we ordered a personal size pizza, we found out that its box fits a play pizza perfectly. I started looking at everything through the eyes of our play kitchenette and was surprised in all that I found right in my own home.
Building on what we started
All in all, the kitchen was a smashing success that has delighted my daughter for hours and will continue to grow with her. We installed a chalkboard that she will be able to use in the future to write out menu offerings and I am constantly thinking of new things to add based on her interests and developmental level. While it would have been much easier to go out and buy a play kitchenette, this was a great chance to use my imagination to create something meaningful together with my husband that my daughter would love!
I hope this has inspired you to go out and make your own DIY kitchen setup for your little one!