Handmade gifts are a really important part of our holiday tradition. I like to give things from the heart, and I feel really good about gifting something I've labored over. Don't get me wrong. We do lots of store-bought presents as well, but the gifts I pour time and energy into always make me feel the proudest!
When the idea for a handmade kitchenette came about, I was immediately intrigued. I had several questions: Can we make a kitchenette that is functional so a child can actually play with it? Can we make it sturdy enough that I don't have to worry about it falling on my kids? Even if I think it is cute, will it appeal to little ones? After Emma and I did some sketching and planning, this is where she came in and used her superpowers. The hard part was done for us since we had found this little rolling cabinet. It was the perfect size and we felt that with a few minor additions, it could become the kitchenette we were planning for. First we cut a peg board down, so that it was just tall enough to fit two play pans. Emma secured the peg board by creating a frame in the back of the unit with wood planks. She then added a shelf to the top of the pegboard and the side of the unit. This was done by screwing in a small plank of wood we cut to fit the unit. The wooden triangle pieces were then secured with liquid nails. She also removed the handle from the top drawer and added four wooden knobs with more liquid nails to be the oven controls. After we painted she also added two hooks on the other side of the unit for hanging play towels or aprons.After Emma got the structure all put together, it was my job to paint and make it look like a play kitchen. I started with orange and white paints as my base and put a few coats on the whole thing. Once it was all painted and dry, I masked off a portion on the door to be the "oven window". I painted that with chalkboard paint, and then used some of my extra chalkboard paint on the oven knobs as well. The last step was creating the "burners". I picked up some 6" round wooden plaques. I first used my grey paint to cover the bottom side of each plaque. After the paint was dry, I used a compass to draw circles onto contact paper. I affixed the contact paper to the plaque and painted white between the contact circles. Once the white paint dried, I pulled the contact circles off and touched up the lines with a paint brush. I used gorilla glue to glue the "burners" down and put 3 coats of clear varnish over the entire "stove top". One of my very favorite parts of this kitchenette is that the door and the drawer from the original cart are still functional. The "oven door" opens up so they can "bake" their food, and the drawer is great storage. One of my biggest concerns was that the kitchen would be sturdy enough for real kiddo wear-and-tear. I'm happy to report that I have NO fears of this unit being top heavy or coming apart. It is extremely sturdy. (hooray!) We are technically saving it for Christmas, but when I brought the kitchenette home to photograph, my kids went crazy for it. They played with it non-stop until bedtime, and then it magically disappeared into our basement until Christmas rolls around. I'm excited to pull it back out on Christmas morning and watch my 2 year old enjoy playing with that old rolling cart-turned-colorful kitchenette. It's a good feeling. xo. Katie (& Emma, too!)