Back as promised to share some of the details of Liv’s new kitchen!
I might be as excited about this project as she is (maybe even more so) because it was a bit of a labor of love. As Kevin comments to everyone that checks it out “and it took twice as long to build the little version than it did to build the big version”. Smirk, but true, true ;). Mine may not be as practical or useful or anywhere near the size of our actual kitchen (which Kev really did whip up in about three months), but I’m still pretty smitten with it.
It all started when I began to collect little bits of mini kitchen inspiration way back when Liv was waaaay too small to even know what a kitchen was. I just knew that one day I wanted to build one. It was that inner kid imagination – the channeling of building mini anything (which I did all the time as a wee one) to be as realistic as possible. Did you ever build your Puppy Surprise stuffies a pretend house in your desk at school? Every girl in my kindergarten class would be raising her hand. Or how about a lair for your GigaPet? Or the perfect dollhouse? Those were the days.
My version of an adult dollhouse (and I guess that makes Liv my little doll):
Inspiration in hand, I thought I might try and convert an older media unit into a cool kitchen. Or perhaps a left over set of garage/kitchen cabinets. Anything rescued and transformed from a thrift store or the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store would be awesome. But since I had a very specific spot in mind for the little kitchen (the end of our island in our kitchen), measurements never quite worked out. And the prices weren’t super either.
Enter a little trip to Ikea for browsing and the TROFAST toy storage unit which checked out in price and size. The price for the pine version was a little on the heavy side, while the white particle board version was more my budget. But I was worried about applying paint to the particle board (and it lasting a while without chipping) and so decided to play it safe with the pine.
(We have fun at Ikea.)
Assembling was tons of fun in that special Ikea way (har, har). Here I am at Christmas time tackling this beast. As with most Ikea products, I’m pretty sure I had to assemble twice and disassemble once before it was put together correctly :).
When choosing a color, an orangey-red kept coming back to me again and again. I finally color matched a pomegranate illustration from one of my favorite Rifle calendars that hung in the kitchen at the time (but with actual paint and not spray paint, wouldn’t that have been nifty?).
That burnt orange is definitely a favorite accent of mine in our mostly green kitchen. It pops up here and there.
The counter is from the VIKA desk collection at Ikea and fit the storage unit lengthwise perfectly. No chopping required. We did have to cut it down about 3″ or so in the width but for $5.99 you just can’t beat it. Five months into life it’s experiencing some wear and tear which is a bummer (but what can you expect from particle board).
The TROFAST shelves (which were made to fit the little slots of the toy storage unit) covered the front of each compartment of the toy unit near perfectly so we converted one into a door that opened like a cabinet and one that opened like an oven door with two hinges each.
The oven door itself was cut to add a little window so you could see inside of the oven, then we lined it with clear plastic from an Ikea frame.
We drilled and installed three little silver knobs (from the hardware store) so that you could ‘turn on’ the stove.
Speaking of stove, creating the range was as simple as taping off a square on the top of the countertop and spray painting it silver. I’m a big fan of using garbage bags as mini drop cloths for projects just like these, they’re easy to reuse for an entire project but you can throw them away (with all of your empty paint cans and trash in them) when you’re done. I’ve taped off the entire left hand side of the counter with a trash bag here.
The Junkman on Etsy is my go-to guy for unusual wood cuts and he came through for me with two sets of plywood circles, one 4 1/2″ and one 5 1/2″. I spray painted the larger circle black and topped it with a silver spray painted smaller circle, and then a small wooden X shape in black again to complete the burners.
But that was actually my May stove top fix. I actually attempted to use furniture moving discs (from Joann’s) initially:
Peeling paint + pretend food consumption = bad. Bummer. The newer solution is 10x better! and cuter:
I stole the sink idea from most play kitchen builders that have gone before me: measure a metal mixing bowl (with a lip) to size, cut out to fit in your countertop. The lip on the metal bowl should keep it in place.
I found the bar sink on either Amazon or eBay, can’t recall (but both are great for tracking one down) for $15 ish.
Let’s talk about the oven for just a second. I painted the inside of the third compartment of the TROFAST unit black and we cut down one of the TROFAST shelves into four skinny pieces to hold the oven racks.
A little wood glue (be sure wipe off the excess that squeezes out) ensures they’re stuck in place.
I added a little push light to the inside of the oven just for fun, though I’m sure it’s going to run out of batteries soon since Liv loves to keep it on all. of. the. time.
The oven racks themselves are from a two-tiered cooling rack that I found on Amazon and cut the legs off of, I then glued (with a glue gun) the racks directly to the little black shelves.
The backsplash was a recent addition. As the little kitchen sat in its spot, I kept picturing something that would give the cabinet unit a little height and a fun backsplash kept coming to mind. I trolled eBay for a bit and found this lovely green, mustard yellow and orange 1″ tile and was able to talk the seller down to a pretty sweet price (I can’t really imagine this tile in someone’s modern bathroom or kitchen… but it’s perfect for my little one!).
Using a piece of plywood cut to size as my base, I adhered, grouted and sponged my tile into place.
We had left over grout around the house but if you’re not wanting to buy a bulk bag from a home improvement store most craft stores sell small bags for mosaic projects. A little water plus a little grout plus a sponge brush (my favorite tool for small projects and if you don’t have actual tile tools lying around).
Use thin set (or even glue ;)) to attach tile (with mesh backing) to plywood. Apply a generous amount of grout to your tile surface while also really pushing that grout into the cracks between your tile (watch it as it begins to dry so that you can catch cracks in your grout and add a little more).
Use fingers when necessary.
Then begin to slowly wipe away the grout from the tops of the tile pieces while the grout is still wet. A sponge, towel or even paper towels can be great for this.
I then added the backing to the back of the kitchen (not the countertop, which is particle board, but the actual pine unit):
Last but not least are the TROFAST storage bins and the dowel + curtain that we assembled with iron-on hem tape for the door to the middle unit:
The cute floral fabric is a remnant of mine from my fabric bin, but I’m almost positive it’s from Joann’s. The dowel worked out well because it fit perfectly into the top notch of the toy unit (the notch for those green bins) that was already built into place.
The only missing component? One happy little chef:
And one happy momma who is so happy with how it turned out.