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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Baby changing table transormation into Play Kitchen--unabridged

About one year ago I came across the blog "Out of the Crayon Box". This amazing woman repurposes old furniture into play kitchens and donates them to charity. She does this under a seriously small budget and re-uses already existing materials as much as possible. Very eco-friendly. You can visit her 6 week detailed instructions here. She jump started my motivation and year long project to complete one of my own, er, my daughters.

-- 2 weeks of full time work (not including accessorizing)
-- $100 budget
--A lot of love and hard work

I turned this baby changing table---

Into this--
A play kitchenette complete with stainless steel fridge! It was a birthday gift for my daughter. You can see her complete baking party here.

I couldn't afford a Pottery Barn version and wanted something made of wood and not plastic. I also liked the idea of using an existing piece of furniture and making it better! So ideas flowed and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this project. Asked if I would do it again? Yes I would! It is a project that I am very proud of, like giving birth to a child! Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic but pretty close.

Here are the long and unabbreviated details of this transformation! I hope it helps inspire and motivates you build your own dream kitchenette!

Here I am, in my lovely of attire, modeling the proper way to use a jigsaw. Lol. It was my first time using one. My husband was very adamant that I learn how to do everything myself. Although, I DID ask that he cut the boards that Lowes would not (bcse they normally will if you buy their wood but the guy working there was sort of a flake plus he was going to charge me extra per cut). I HATE saws. They freak me out, especially after taking my Theater tech class in college and hearing all the horror stories of lost fingers, etc. After he cut the wood everything else was all up to me.

Here are the bones. It was a pretty solid piece of furniture to begin with. The previous owners took good care of it. However, it was made of particle board which I hope I will not regret later on. I did reinforce it with stronger wood. I want this piece to last until I have grandkids to play with it!
I measured, and measured, and measured some more, and envisioned and sketched and sat in front of the piece of furniture for what seemed like HOURS, day after day! Until I had the final design in my head and could go and purchase more wood and make cuts.

First, I took out the drawer. Removed the hardware (and should have kept it!) Keep all hardware. You never know when you might need it in another project.

Then I took off the top shelf (where the baby would normally lay down to be changed). The existing shelves in the closet and main unit were the kind that rested on little tabs. So those were easy to remove. Standard height for a play kitchen is about 25" off the ground. So I marked where I wanted the counter to rest. I kept the existing side wall and realized I could create a backsplash around the back to match that height. The original backing to this piece was just that lousy cardboard so I bought some pine and used that for the new back.

I cut a hole into the top for the sink and sanded down the sides. I simply bought a cake pan from the $1 store to use for a sink. I liked that it was shallow because 1) the kids will learn how quickly dishes can pile up. haha. 2) I didn't want it to hang down too low and take away space from the shelf below.
At first I thought about using the original drawer as the oven, like in the "crayon box" tutorial. However, I thought it would look really funny to have such a long and squaty oven so I opted for a more challenging way. I had to build a middle shelf to create an oven for one side and a curtained storage shelf on the opposite.

The fridge needed more shelves so I used the original existing shelf from the main body of the furniture to cut into two more pieces to create two more shelves. Then I had to buy one more piece of wood to create the inner shelves and oven door. HINT: You can always look in the scratch and dent section of your hardware store to find smaller or miscut pieces to save money.
Insde the fridge. I had my husband cut little strips of wood to use as stabilizers for each shelf for extra support. I screwed each one into the side of each wall. I then screwed each shelf into that. I also want to mention this. You can see the little bit of gap between the shelf and the wall? We had to fill that in with caulk just make it more secure.

After I cut and screwed everything together I sanded (because it is laminate), primed (kilz brand) then painted. Just one quart of primer was enough. Then I painted 1 1/2 coats (I'm not the best painter) of semi-gloss (important if you want a more washable friendly surface) paint that we already had from painting our kitchen. It's Kwal paint so it gives excellent coverage. The dude at the paint store suggested I didn't top coat it with polyurethane for safety of children and because it can add a yellowish topcoat, especially with my lack of painting skills. And it's one less step for me! After I primed it all, I caulked those cracks, just to make it a bit smoother. I also reinforced any loose spots from the existing changing table with screws, just to make it more sturdy. I tried caulking over the screws...but I'm not the best "caulker" and it looks a bit bumpy in the end. Just a minor imperfection not worth my time to repair :)

Here are the details.

The fridge. I debated putting anything on the door at all or to just leave it plain. I looked at sheet metal and roofing supplies at Lowe's and they cost about $15. But I didn't have to create a stainless steel look! Crud, I've never owned one myself! But in addition to the cost, I'd have to cut it myself. Which is scary. Cutting metal makes me cringe. Plus it would have those raw edges that can easily scratch little fingers. And finally, I was already going over budget as it was. (I wanted to keep it under $50....)

A cookie sheet could have worked as well but not given the same look. So I was going to settle with a plain door until I was looking in the treasure trove that is my our basement (ie, the storage area for lost goods that belong to my grandma next door), and I found this perfectly sized piece of metal! Heavy duty stuff and magnetic! And no need to cut it! It was a perfect fit! I just had to buy special screws (because, believe me, I tried nailing it in and then using regular screws, and that took forever to try cutting through that metal!) that drill into metal and attach to wood. And tada! We have a stainless steel fridge at only the cost of some hardware. Perfect!

There was also already a magnetic catch which makes it easier to keep closed! The handle is this one from Ikea. The $7 version, nearly 10" long. They come in a set of 2 so I used the other for the oven door.

The inside of the fridge. Yes, I added little pictures of the food items that belong in each basket, by covering a photograph with contact paper. Easily removable if necessary later on.

The oven. I bought the little cooling racks in a pack of 2 at the $1 store. My little one year old takes them out a lot and they get stepped on so I think I'll need to glue them down permanently.
So originally I wanted to make a normal oven door. One that opened up and down, not side to side. But I couldn't figure out the hinge thing and had other dilemma's with how it was rubbing, etc. And then I decided to just give in to convention and have it open side to side. And I am so pleased I did because I did not want to have to drill it in again due to a child sitting on the oven door and damaging it. Plus it looks just fine!
I bought an 8 x 10" piece of plexiglass and just screwed it in. If you look closely, you can can see how it cracked a bit. But don't inspect too closely, you'll see my true jigsaw skills at play with how not straight my cuts are :) I bought mirror hinges originally but they did not fit the width of the piece of plexiglass, it would have slid right out. I suppose you could make it properly by routering it in but I did not want to deal with that!

I added a magnetic catch (.85 cents) and another porcelain knob (from another piece of furniture) on the side to change the temp!

The stove top. Originally I tried recycling and saving money by painting cd's and using poppsicle sticks to create a raised gas range. However, even after using gorilla glue, this happened.

So I opted to buy little wooden ball decor items (as seen here in this kitchen) at Joann's and just painted those. I used a staple gun to adhere them to the top and painted the black lines over them to cover the nails.

The sink. I used a $1 store pan for the sink. A wooden letter "J" from Joann's ($1.50). I gorilla glued that to the base using a c-clamp. Then used 2 more porcelain knobs, that can screw, for the knobs. These knobs came from another piece of furniture, so they were free.

The shelf and cafe curtain. I love this fabric! It makes me happy. It's Ann Kelle's Metro Market Strawberries, from Robert Kaufman's line. It's juvenile and classy and kitcheny all at the same time. I purchased it from this etsy shop. I opted to use a removable dowel ($1) so I could take the curtain down to clean it. I also only one and half timed the fabric width instead of double like a typical gather. I did not want it to be too full so they couldn't open and close it easily.

Accessories: 4 of my daughters' living grandmothers (including the great's) contributed to these, without even knowing it!
Something used. Play loaf of bread (from Gma Sm)
Something vintage. Bread box (again, found in the basement of Gma K). Salt and pepper shakers (spools of vintage nylon thread). Don't they have the neatest shape? A simple utensil holder is a baking powder container. Perfect colors.

Something repurposed. I used some gifted items such as a hot pad (from Gma Sr) with coordinating fabric sewn on.
A hand towel from the $1 aisle at Target that I embellished. The towel rack was from the "odds and ends" area in Ikea so it was clearance priced. The hot pad hook is something I already owned from Walmart.

Something handmade. Green washcloth (Gma F).

More views.

The fridge side. I added 4 porcelain knobs to hang aprons and chef hats.

The other side.And for the finishing touch, the back. I wanted to use the back somehow. To give it versatility. It can be put up against a wall and cover the usable space. Or it can divide a space. The play area that we currently live in is very open and part of the living room, office/piano area, and my crafting area. And keeping the kitchen in the room divides and defines the space a bit more. Plus you can play restaurant more fun this way!
I added chalkboard contact paper ($12, not included in final cost) to one side And velcroed on two existing chalkboards (so they are removable, to place on their laps, etc). Now they have an extra space to be creative (without compromising the other walls in the house).

Now, the nitty gritty. The $.
Dream Kitchen Total Cost breakdown

Changing Table: $25

1/4" 4x4 Birch $11.56
1/2" 2x4 Oak $12.80
Wood from existing cabinet FREE

Leftover kitchen paint FREE
Acrylic craft paint FREE
Paint roller $5.57
Primer $6.29

Hardware & Accessories:
Screws, 2 sizes $6.12
3 Ikea Handles $9
Plexi glass, 8"x10" $1.60
Magnetic Catch $0.85
2 Hinges, 2" $1.82
Plastic containers, repurposed  FREE
curtain dowel $1.08
Porcelain knobs FREE
Fridge screws $1
Steel flashing FREE
Potted flower $1
Dish towel $1
Fabric $10
Sink $1
Faucet, letter J $1.50
Burners $3
TOTAL: $100

Here are several websites and examples that I drew inspiration from as well. Thank you all for sharing your ideas!

The biggest inspiration. This kitchen is beautiful. You've probably already seen it from Crafting Chicks.

This is another beautiful vintage inspired kitchen. Beautiful photos and craftsmanship.

If you're on a smaller budget or space, these other examples are darling and very nicely done as well!
Happy creating! Send me links to your kitchenettes when you're finished! I hope these ideas help fire the ideas in your own mind!

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  1. UNbelievable!!!! I am SO IMPRESSED! You are totally amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. WOW! It looks SOO awesome! Way to go, Hannah! You did such an incredible job on everything! I love it!

  3. Holy cow, a lot of love and hard work went into that kitchen. I think your grandkids will LOVE it!!! I don't see myself ever doing something like that, but it was cool to see how you did it.

  4. hi hannah! thanks for your comment. of course i don't mind at all if you read my blog. let me know if you have any questions about living in ny with kids.

    what a small world that you know whit. yeah, everyone tells me and all my sisters that we look exactly alike. :)

    and this kitchen is amazing! i am very impressed! sadly, projects like that are pretty much a no-go in nyc. you did such an awesome job though!

  5. I just came across this adorable play kitchen! How amazing...great job!

  6. I stumbled upon this looking for ways to repurpose our changing table. And while I don't have a little girl...this was still amazing to me!!!! You're attention to detail is incredible!!!!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Baby Clothes Wow, What a Excellent post. I really found this to much informatics. It is what i was searching for.I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info.Thanks

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  10. Wow, what an incredible transformation! Your dedication and creativity truly shine through in every detail of this project. It's amazing how you turned a baby changing table into a fully functional and eco-friendly play kitchenette, complete with a stainless steel fridge!

    Your attention to detail, from repurposing existing materials to carefully planning out every step, is truly inspiring. I love how you incorporated elements like the cake pan sink and the perfectly sized piece of metal for the fridge door. And the addition of the chalkboard contact paper for extra creativity space is such a thoughtful touch. Best Places in Portland, Oregon to Take Your Kids Out for Fun

    Thank you for sharing the unabridged details of your journey. It's clear that this project was a labor of love, and the end result is absolutely stunning. I'm sure your daughter is over the moon with her new play kitchenette! You've definitely motivated me to get creative with repurposing furniture. Amazing work! 🌟👏 #DIYInspiration #CreativeRepurposing #EcoFriendlyCrafting Wild Rivers Inspection