Charlie’s One Piece Play Kitchen

Who says Christmas can’t come before Halloween?! It sure did for Charlie! After a visit to IKEA a couple of weeks ago, Charlie found a love of play food and utensils. She had a blast banging the pots together and “peeling” her banana. My mom convinced me that 14 months isn’t too little for a play kitchen. So I raided Ana’s website and decided to go with the One Piece Play Kitchen plans! For just under $100, it’s so much better than a plastic kitchen from the store that would fall apart before Charlie started kindergarten.

It’s seriously such a cute kitchen. I love that it’s one piece, so I didn’t have to build separate components. You have a lot of room for customization too! I decided I wanted a large refrigerator and overlaid doors, so I switched that up from the original plan, as well as raising the shelf to line up with the top and add space for pegs.

It only took a few hours to build, but the devil was in the details! I started this project on a Wednesday and finished it up on Saturday, catching a few hours here and there to work on it.

My main goal on this project? CHEMICAL FREE! I used solid pine and nixed the backer board (even though I bought PureBond 1/4″ ply for it, I decided to save it for another project) along with wooden pegs and knobs. But the real clincher here was how I finished out the wood. I didn’t want paint to chip or scratch off, or stain to release all those nasty chemicals. So what to do? DYE IT! I bought one bottle of liquid RIT dye in teal, and it was more than enough for this kitchen.

I poured the undiluted dye into a bowl and used a rag to wipe it on. In the future, I’ll dilute the first coat instead of using the concentrated dye. It was so hard to get into all the crevices!

See all those gaps? Ugh. And it was slightly patchy in areas where more dye accumulated. So I grabbed some q-tips and dyed all the raw crevices.

Fifty three years later (ok – more like two hours) I was finished with the first coat.

The other great benefit of stain? It has virtually no dry time. It’s practically immediate. I had about half of my bottle left, so I added about 1/2 cup of water. It was SO much easier to apply when it was diluted! I could squeeze the rag into the corners and cracks and the dye would seep in, then I could wipe off any excess. The second coat only took about 30 minutes. So dilute your dye!

I let the dye sit for about an hour, then did a top coat with Mod Podge. It’s non-toxic and perfect for a chemical-free project! I painted the backsplash with chalkboard paint. Ready for the rest of the details?

Here’s the oven side. We have two shelves on the side with cute little braces for future toy appliances. I think she needs a coffee pot and a mixer for sure! I have five pegs on the backsplash for hanging her pots and pans. Those burners?

Cork coasters painted with chalk paint. I need to get some chalk and draw the swirlies on them!

The knobs were an impulse buy. I wanted them to spin, so I didn’t want cabinet knobs. These are just closet dowel rod holders painted with chalk paint and screwed in through the pre-drilled holes. I used 1 1/2″ kreg screws (the heads are rounded and don’t have sharp edges) and left a tiny gap so the knobs spin freely. I plan to add an arrow with chalk or a paint pen.

The oven “glass” is frame replacement glazing (aka plastic) from Hobby Lobby. Hubs drilled holes first then attached it with cabinet screws. I’m going to run a bead of hot glue around the edges so there are no cutting risks. It shuts with a cabinet catch.

I think the sink may be my favorite section. I started with a bowl from Goodwill that took up nearly all the “counter space”. I didn’t see a faucet that I liked, plus I didn’t have much room. So I decided to go with a wall-mounted option and do a spigot!

So stinkin’ cute. The caveat is that the handle was a really boring bar. Luckily I found a replacement handle with the iconic vintage appeal. I toyed around with painting it for half a second, but decided I liked the red with the black and teal. So it stuck! For the curtain I just stapled on a red bandana, which was a perfect fit.

I tweaked the plan a little to add a shelf in the oven instead of both of them in the sink section. I wanted a place for Charlie to bake her cupcakes 😉 Plus there’s more space to fit cups and boxes and other future play food.

The refrigerator is also a lot of fun. I thought about using plywood and priming it with magnetic paint, but that stuff is $20 a quart. So pricey! Besides, I wanted a little flash and bling on this kitchen. So I grabbed some 16″ roof flashing that is screwed into the frame. Again, I’m running a bead of hot glue around the edges to prevent any cut fingers. You could also use a cookie sheet or other sheet metal from the hardware store.

We used another cabinet latch to keep the door shut. Oh, and the handles? Those are just dowels.

I grabbed a 4 foot long 3/4″ dowel and cut both handles at 12″. Then I cut 1″ sections to attach them to the doors. I pre-drilled both sides of the 1″ pieces and through both sides of the handles, and screwed in a 1 1/4″ screw the handle and the door. Those suckers are solid! And at $3 a dowel, it’s a big money saver from the long $8 handles from IKEA.

Of course you could always just use pretty knobs or handles.

Charlie totally loves her kitchen. It’s a bit on the bigger side, but that means she’s got room to grow into it so it will last her for years. Plus it will be something great to pass on! This sucker is so solid that it will be a great toy for many years to come.

This was a bit of a pricier project than I tend to take on, but the total cost was under a hundred bucks. There are even more ways to save if you want to build yours. Lumber was only about 50 dollars, so if you can scavenge for good deals on the details you’ll be able to knock this out affordably. Here’s where all that money went:

Lumber: Home Depot and Lowes – $54.67
RIT Teal Dye: Hobby Lobby – $3.79
Dowel (handles): Home Depot – $2.98
Replacement Glazing (plexi): Hobby Lobby – $3.27
Sink: Goodwill – $1.99
Cork Coasters (burners): Hobby Lobby – $2.77
Pegs: Hobby Lobby – $1.47
Closet Rod Holders (knobs) – $5.76
Spigot: McCoys – $8.29
Spigot Handle: McCoys – $1.29
Metal Flashing: McCoys – $2.75 worth of an $11 roll. I plan to use the rest for some magnetic frames

Total with tax: $96.82

Not bad at all! Now to figure out what to build for Christmas…

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