It all started with a simple search on Craigslist for a play kitchen for Marcus. He's very much into pretend play these days and I wanted to help him use his imagination as best I can. The play kitchens I found on CL were either too expensive, too large or too unsightly. Another search on the web lead me to a handful of sites which featured DIY play kitchens made out of cardboard! This was the perfect solution because I was looking for something temporary, inexpensive (or better, free), and customizable. Within the next hour, I was headed out the door on the hunt for cardboard boxes.
One trip to the grocery store, a few empty boxes from home and I had all of my building blocks. Good thing I'm a bit of hoarder when it comes to paper and craft supplies otherwise I wouldn't have been able to put the kitchen together so quickly and so easily.
I started by piecing the boxes together as the fridge, sink, stove and cupboard. After setting that up, I wrapped the boxes up in kraft and white newsprint paper for a unified look. The only exception to this was the fridge and sink where I cut the holes for the doors and sink before covering them.
The fridge was made out of a diaper box which was just long and narrow enough. Rather than just drawing on the handles, I layered a couple of cardboard pieces together and wrapped them up and stuck them to the doors. And because the fridge sat a bit low on the ground I put it on top of another piece of cardboard box so that Marcus wouldn't have to bend down to use it.
For the surface area of the sink, I covered it with some left-over shelf liner, which coincidentally looks like granite. If there was anything that stumped be about this project, it was how I was going to make the faucet. Turns out, I just dug into Marcus' toy basket and started playing around with the wooden blocks until I got something that resembled a faucet and held the pieces together with Velcro and twine. I added a kitchen sink skirt to cover the existing hole with one of my favourite checkered fabrics. It actually doubles as an apron, but Marcus was moving too fast and too interested in other things to model it for us! I framed two pages of a thrifted book to add some fun and colour to the neutral palate and stuck them to the 'backsplash'.
A bankers box laid on it's backside makes an ideal stove and oven because the lid opens (or falls) just like an oven door. We put in a cardboard shelf to act as a rack. I used a toilet paper roll cut in half as the oven door handle. The knobs were made from individual bottom sides of an egg carton and glued to cardboard. The stove elements were made of cardboard as well, with string tied around them for texture. At first, I thought I was going to add a clock to the stove but decided that a colourful graphic element would like nice. And so it turned out to be a rectangular shape covered with origami paper.
The shelf is pretty self-explanatory. Not much going on with that piece except that I was happy to line the shelves with vintage ledger paper. And the cupboard beneath the shelf, has a nifty panel detail made of cardboard on the doors.
The accessories were my only expense for the play kitchen. For under $3, I got a couple of enamel cups, a woven basket and a mini baking tin. The rest of the props I already had or got from my mom's kitchen! The kitchen took me four nights to put together. After Marcus was down for the evening, I had set to work for a few hours and then hid the boxes away in another room so that he wouldn't find them until the big reveal.
Marcus was intrigued by his new kitchen. He touched all of the handles and knobs, took out the plates, cups and utensils and put them back in their places and also found new places for them to sit. He opened and closed the doors. He even made swishing noises while washing the dishes and his hands in the sink. He 'drank' from cups and 'ate' from the bowls.
He pretended that the freezer door of the fridge was a microwave. "Beep, beep, beep...".
This was such a fun project to put together. I got to channel my inner-kid and couldn't help but create a space that I wouldn't mind cooking in too.