Monday, October 15, 2012

Play Kitchen Reveal

Josh and I have been working on this super fun project for Penny for about a month, and it is now complete! It turned out so flippin' cute, and Penny thinks it is about the greatest thing she's ever seen. We started with this:

And some piles of things like this:

And now we have this!

The most fabulous play kitchen a Penelope could ever ask for! And the best part? Want to know the very best part? With the exception of two bolts, every single item used to make this play kitchen was obtained secondhand, found lying around our house, and/or diverted from being thrown away. Not only is this kitchen literally green, but it is oh so green. Gotta love that.

Ok, let's tour the kitchen, shall we? As we tour, I will fill you in on how/where we obtained each component. The entertainment center was purchased from Craigslist for $10. It is solid cedar, which was what sold us–solid wood would be sturdy and conducive to remodeling. Plus, I just love cedar with its fancy anti-moth properties and its fabulous smell. With the trend of hanging TVs on the wall, entertainment centers are a dime a dozen out there in resale land. The white and yellow paint were left in our basement workshop by our landlords or previous tenants. The green paint was obtained for free at a paint exchange program. Periodically, our town designates paint exchange days where you can drop off old paint to be properly disposed of, and anyone who wants some paint can take some for free. The chalkboard paint on the burners was leftover from a chalkboard project we made for Penny (watch for it in an upcoming playroom tour).

Penny has a two-burner stove with knobs that turn and a cute little oven. The burners are painted with chalkboard paint so that she can draw on flames or hot coils or whatever she wants. Drip marks and spills even! I especially like how Josh cut the edge curvy for some aesthetic interest and gave her a little shelf to display her teacups and saucers.

The stone backsplash tiles were obtained from a local small business that supplies all kinds of green products for homes. These tiles were store samples that were discontinued and were going to be recycled. My mom gave us the hinges a few years ago thinking that we might be able to do something cool with them some time. I think she found them at an auction or antique store. Good foresight, Mom! The plexiglass on the oven door was in our leftover/remnants arts & crafts bin. I like to save scraps and materials that look like they might come in handy for a craft project–they just go in a bin in our storage room until we can find a use for them.

Most of the remaining fixtures were purchased from building supply exchange stores. The Habitat Restore is probably the most well-known store of this kind, but there are a few other local (non-chain) ones in Chicago. Check out your city–this is becoming a popular thing. Basically, you can donate leftover/old building supplies that you no longer want, and the store will sell them at a deep discount. Some things are even new in the packages. You get a great deal, and materials are diverted from landfills. It's a fabulous concept. I would love to see more stores like this–especially craft exchange stores! Wouldn't that be cool? The wood pieces for the window frame, the stove knobs (wooden drawer pulls), the oven door handle & fridge handles (metal/antique drawer pulls), towel hook (see below), green tiles, tile grout/caulk, sink faucet (half of a door knob!!), sink faucet handles (antique ceramic drawer pulls), and hooks for the teacups and curtain rods were all purchased this way. Some things took some extra creativity, and I spent a some time looking at different materials from many angles before I realized how I could use certain things. Like the door knob turned faucet–I was looking for an actual faucet, which the store didn't have, but then I noticed that this door knob would definitely work. Same with the blue sink knobs. To give you an idea of prices on this kind of stuff, the tiles were 10¢ each, the knobs and towel hook were 25¢ each, and the door knob/faucet was $1.

I made the bar of soap from materials from my scrap bin–a strip of green felt and stuffed with tiny scraps that are too small for anything else. The curtains were made from fabric gifted to me by my mom when she was downsizing her sewing supplies. And the sink basin was just a metal bowl with a cool stamped pattern from Goodwill.

 I think these sink knobs are oh so charming and much cuter than if I had found actual sink handles.

That towel hook is just screaming for a cute dishtowel and oven mitt, which are on my sewing to-do list. The fridge/freezer combo is very spacious and has plenty of room to hold the oodles of felt food I will be making for Penny. So far I've made strawberries, bacon & eggs, pancakes with syrup, tea, and a fun cookie set (details to follow). Felt food is super fun to make–it can mostly just be freehanded, and felt doesn't fray, so little-to-no hemming. Bonus.

 It also makes so much sense to start saving clean food boxes and containers for play. I know you can buy little play food boxes, but why not use the real thing? Especially because they get crushed in about 12 seconds. It's even better when they are your child's actual favorite foods and boxes they recognize.

Once I knew we were making this project, I started to keep my eyes open for small metal and wood cooking utensils and vessels at thrift stores. I amassed quite a collection in a short period of time, all secondhand and super cheap. I think it is so much more charming to have a collection of actual cooking utensils in metal and wood than mini plastic replicas. Also greener. And you all know how I feel about plastic.

And it all fits so nicely under the sink: 

Who's ready for a cup of tea? The stainless steel teacups and saucers are actually espresso cups from Ikea. I had bought them for Penny to actually use as cups, but they just look so cute in her play kitchen.

My favorite felt food I've made so far is this cookie set from The Mother Huddle. It just turned out so sweet and is a lot of fun to play with because kids can really simulate the steps involved in baking. These will make great Christmas or birthday gifts for little ones. I have started to collect cookie cutters so that I will have some ready when I need to make a gift. Simple shapes like hearts, stars, and circles are the best.

I actually had to slow down on making felt food because I have no self-control and want to give Penny whatever I've made as soon as I'm finished. But I really want to save some things for Christmas and her birthday, so I'm on a felt food making hiatus until I can get my impulses in check. In the meantime, I need to start working on Christmas gifts for nieces and nephews!

I am so excited to see what Penny's budding imagination does with this play kitchen. It was a labor of love and the very best kind of toy in my opinion: green, no batteries, and inspiring imagination/creativity. Last night when she was playing, she got a cup, filled it with "milk" from the faucet, and handed it to Daddy. A milk faucet–love it.

I hope you enjoyed the kitchen tour. If so, please leave some gushing comments. Josh has been harassing me daily wondering when this post was going up because he can't wait to read the comments. Love you, dear. ;)


  1. So cute! Nice job Josh! What a perfect idea

  2. I love that the two of you joined forces to create something so wonderful for her. It's even more special because of the time and care you took into putting it together for her-rather than just lining up at the store and putting it in your shopping cart. A one-of-a-kind! I would have loved this as a little girl! I can't wait to see the other felt foods you have put together.

  3. Cutest kitchen I've ever seen. Penny is a lucky girl! Nice work!

  4. This is absolutely adorable! I am amazed at how much you're able to accomplish with your little one. How do you do it?? P.S. Ben wishes to extend a secret handshake to Josh.

  5. This is so cute, and extra special since it's handmade and green! What a lovely idea (not just for girls either!)

  6. This is great! I've never seen one made from an entertainment unit before. Smart idea! Just starting to think about building one ourselves and love your faucet idea!

  7. Adorable! Fantastic job! Love the contrast of the before and after :), I can't wait to finish our kitchen for Liv!

    Morgan @ PDB :)

  8. Very creative! You two are very good example of proactivity-nature-friendly incredible parents. Be sure to write "made in our home with love" cause with those materials used, this kitchen will last a few generations. Way to go!