Buy or DIY? A Play Kitchen for my Little Boy

Now that my son’s toy collection is increasing I see that we have gravitated toward food cutting toys and Thomas the Tank Engine. Neither have we large scale items of each, but with the collection amassed of the former it seemed only natural to give him some cooking space in the apartment. So I began the search online for the perfect play kitchen. Weeks have passed and I feel about a smidgen closer to a play kitchen for our apartment-therapy sized apartment.  We’ve been agonizing over what big toys to invest in and which not to invest in, a process which has reinvigorated our desire not to fill the house with toys our little one may outgrow. Don’t get us wrong. A kitchen – the latest thing I’ve wanted to get my son – is not something he will quickly outgrow. But it would fill our apartment to the very brimful. And that means that we must think seriously before purchasing one.

A Fine Wooden Kitchen

To save you all some effort, if you are into the wooden kitchen scene I recommend the following sources to choose a play kitchen
Play Kitchens – from Consumer Search
Ebay Guide to Play Kitchens
 The Bubble Lush’s Guide to Play Kitchens and her Pinterest Board

If you want the bottom line – if you want a kitchen for the technophile in you with electrical on and off, batteries, and fairly photorealistic toys, a plastic play kitchen by Step 2 may be the one for you.  If you want an heirloom wooden kitchen that will fit large wooden toys, then your best bet is likely Kidkraft from a brand perspective (Guidecraft is great too, but more expensive).  Kidkraft’s got the market corner on variety and quality of wooden kitchen and they probably have something that fits your needs within your budget. But the caveat is to look at the materials these kitchens are made of and their sizing.  I am seeing play kitchens in a more toddler range size (maxing out at 36″ tall) – which I anticipate my little guy soon outgrowing. The next size up, whose kitchen heights increases to 40″ to 43″ . . well, they will last for several years of your child’s life, but they are BIG and HEAVY – two things which are a bit tricky to navigate in our little place.

For the adventurous

A DIY Play Kitchen may be for you if you find the kitchens out there prohibitively expensive or if you don’t like the design or if you just really really want a project ahead of you. Overall it seemed doable,  especially since when I was a kid I used to paint my own desks and repurpose stuff for myself all the time.  For about 30 minutes I was ready to pull up my sleeves and put together supplies and turn an old entertainment center into a full kitchen for my son. That was, until I realized that in no way would the old entertainment center fit realistically into our apartment. Then all my dreams of jigsaws and stainless steel bowls and installing hinged doors fell apart.  But in case you are interested in why I found the whole process so appealing . . .easily any of these options looked much cooler, more unique, and more attractive than any purchased kitchen. But one must have the time and space for it.

Laura Leigh’s pinterest board
Pinterest Board #2
Yet another pinterest board
And a DIY Kitchens board by Aida
Mary’s Pinterest board
Megan’s DIY Kitchen Pinterest Board

. . you can see there are a lot of pinterest boards out there that cover a similar subject and let me say just how awesome each of these is
Carissa shows a lovely post on how to DIY your own play kitchen

 And our decision  . .

After all the searching we decided together that buying a full kitchen would probably not fit our needs right now.  In the event that L doesn’t play with it that much, we don’t want to purchase an item that would take up so much real estate in our apartment.  And we’d love to create a space for L that would be multipurpose – where he can paint, draw, or play trains or play with a kitchen. So actually our ideal kitchen was our coffee table that we already had in the corner.  If it gets ruined, well, it already has plastic corner protectors glued to it so I think that ship has already sailed. To populate it we have purchased this little number from the Land of Nod.

Can’t offer a link to the Land of Nod website because the item is no longer available online.  Anyway, it is foldable and comes with those pretty accessories shown there. Hopefully it should fit nicely on the table and depending on how L uses it we can expand the surrounding space to fit his needs . .or hack an entertainment center as I have dreamed of doing and customizing it to the kitchen we all want him to be able to have.  And once he gets a wooden train or his blocks or his legos or his coloring books hopefully we can repurpose the space as needed.  The only tricky thing here is the “oven” concept which I’d love to be able to get for him.  I do have a small ikea bookshelf at home that has a door and if I get permission I could place it next to the coffee table and have it become his fridge.  When this item arrives in the mail I’m excited to put it all together. We are hoping to take all the toys that are now stacked onto the coffee table and organize them into bins, leaving his coffee table available for his new activity area. We will see how it goes!  Here’s the before picture that I’m working with.

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