About 10 seconds after I knew I had a little girl, I knew she was eventually going to have a play kitchen. It’s one of those things on the list of “things I didn’t have but always wanted” (a really cool play house is, too). This past winter when I saw how much all of the kids loved to play with the kitchen at the ECC, I found myself wondering how we could get our hands on one. It’s not as simple as just running out to Toys’R’Us when you live on Nantucket, and besides that, I wanted to avoid an ugly plastic monstrosity and am on a tight budget. So, when I found out that Mr. V’s family would not be returning to the island this summer, I was really sad…but I was also quick to ask after the wooden play kitchen they had left behind. I lucked out, and it was still in their old apartment; so in May, we brought this home:
Not really my style, but you can’t beat free! I figured we’d slap some primer and paint on it so it wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb, and all would be happy in our dining room. Problem was, it was missing the sink bowl.
And since the hole was oval, replacing the bowl was near to impossible. I tried reaching out to the manufacturer (outside of the US) or sales people (in the US) and had no luck. I sent the dimensions of the hole to my mom who looked all over for a Tupperware or metal or some other bowl that would fit the hole. No luck. Finally, I realized that it wasn’t going to be as easy as placing something inside the existing space and that I was either going to have to attach something underneath or change the shape of the hole, which led me to googling images of play kitchens that people had built.
There are some really, really amazing play kitchens out there. But the second I saw this one, with an apron front sink, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And not only did I want to fix the sink problem, I also wanted to add storage space and decorations to make it more country/vintage looking. I drew a picture, and I talked to my friend Tiago, who is a carpenter, to see if he could help me cut the wood. I posted a “wanted” on the REX for scrap wood and, when I had found enough, we planned for an afternoon of carpentry. I figured we would get everything cut and then I would figure out how to put it all together later.
Tiago was amazing. Not only did he cut everything, but he also put the entire thing together perfectly. He measured and remeasured, did all kinds of fancy things like adding shims and using finishing nails — things that I never would have been able to do, certainly not as quickly. He managed to make two small pieces of bead board look like one. Tiago turned my simple sketch into reality:This play kitchen is a work of art; right down to the apron front sink.
He built it out of a pine, assembled it with wooden pegs instead of nails, and then used a router to round all of the edges and corners. The itty-bitty drain, strainer, and stopper, I found at Marine (our hardware store) for $14.
I am so incredibly proud of this gift we’re giving Nora and so, so thankful for the wonderful generosity of our friends and neighbors who made this possible. Something like this would probably cost hundreds of dollars, but I spent much, much less. Here are the details: The play kitchen and all of the wood were given to me for free.
The oven rack is part of a bed side rail that someone gave me when we took the side off Nora’s crib. It was too big because it was meant for a twin, so I cut it in half and saved the other half “just in case”. I spray painted it silver, which cost $4. All of the other paint we already had leftover from other things; I just bought a few painting supplies for under $10. I bought the oven handle ($8), hooks ($7 total), corbels ($15), clock arms ($1.50), wooden circle ($5) and fabric (the most expensive part…about $20) for the curtain (details here).When it all came together, we built Nora a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, upcycled play kitchen for less than $75!
I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this turned out, and Nora is pretty excited too…Especially once she discovered that she could give Baby Lulu a bath in the sink! I know Nora is going to get many good years out of this and, someday, I hope to see my grandchildren playing with it too.