My wife and I had seen the idea of converting an old wooden entertainment centre (ie a big TV stand with cabinets) into a play Kitchen for kids. We noticed whenever we were visiting friends or at preschool they constantly want to use the play kitchen and pretend to cook. Also, at home, we have a stool they use to hang out at the kitchen counter and they're constantly checking out what we're making or wanting to help out. We could've just bought a nice kitchen from Costco or wherever but this way it would be special, something they'd remember, and something that would definitely last a long time! Now that Christmas is done we are happy to report this was a HUGE success, therefore I am more than happy to share it!
I got some ideas from here on Instructables and Reddit. We found a used unit for free on Kijiji and I started planning it out and getting more ideas.
Materials & Tools:
A big wooden TV entertainment centre/unit
Drill with appropriate screw and drill bits, circular saw bits
Sandpaper - Heavy grit and medium-light.
Polyurethane (protective coat)
Extra cupboard door Hinges
Cupboard door handles
Stainless steel dish
Plywood - (1/2" x 2' x' 4') for doors
Hardboard (1/4" x 4' x 4')
Particle Board (1/4" x 2' x 2')
Step 1: Strip the Entertainment Centre
Start by taking off all the doors, knobs and hinges with a screwdriver or drill. Set aside any shelving and shelf holders it may have come with. Don't forget to save all the old screws and hinges and knobs! I also ended up cleaning the hinges/knobs after taking them off. The rear "wall" is cheap, very thin plywood which I took off and removed all the nails holding it. I discarded the old plywood (crumbling apart and had the precut holes in it).
I used Minwax Paint & Varnish remover to strip the old, thick varnish on the whole unit. It is like a gel, and you just goop it on, leave it for 20-30 minutes, then scrape it all off with the putty knife, hoping the old varnish and some stain goes with it. It is pretty messy stuff. Don't forget to use eye protection and gloves! I used it on every surface, although the outside frame seemed to have more coated on. It would leave lots of dirt and gunk behind so I used Methyl Hydrate to clean it up and dry it all out, making it easy to wipe down after.
Next is the fun part, and by far the most time consuming: Sanding. I used both a palm sander and just by hand to sand it down - starting with 40 grit ( I realize now I did not need to go that low, as the varnish remover did most of the stripping work) I worked up to 80 and 180, then 220 grit in some spots. In hindsight, I'd have been fine with 60-80 and finish with 180, much less work that way.
Step 2: Extra Doors and the Sink
I used the 1/2 inch plywood to make 2 doors that would fit on the right side of the unit: the upper right for the fridge and lower right for the oven. Used a circular saw and the table saw for cuts. Messed up measurements on the fridge door height and had to add a piece to the top, glued on and clamped with ratchet straps, which ended up working alright. I also used wood filler at this point on some of the knots in the plywood, then sanded the 2 doors down until nice and smooth.
Next I measured out where the faucet and sink would go. I flipped the bowl upside down and traced the edge. Also traced where the 2 pegs from the faucet would go. Measuring the width of the faucet pegs, I used the appropriate paddle bit for the drill and drilled through the frame. Next, I traced another line just inside of my sink tracing, to allow the lip of the bowl to rest on the frame. Drilled a hole through the sink location so I could then use the jigsaw to cut the big sink hole.
The faucet came with it's own plastic interface to clamp on. The lip of the bowl is just resting on the counter. If the kids keep punching it out when playing I can always try gluing it down with Gorilla glue.
Now the 4' x 4' piece of thin plywood was screwed onto the back side as a solid rear wall of the unit. Had to trim 1" off the bottom side so it would fit nicely on the unit. I just used small wood screws to screw it on.
Step 3: Paint
I began with grey paint on any exterior surface and the cupboard doors it came with. Used painter's tape for a nice clean edge wherever needed. Did 2 coats which was plenty, the paint I used was 2 in 1 primer. Then I used some leftover recycled paint I had used for other projects - light blue for the cupboards and white for the fridge interior.
I used black spray paint for the old hinges and knobs, which actually worked really well on the metal. Also used spray paint on some of the shelving, which took a couple coats and really, I should have just used regular paint on them. Finally, spray painted the oven interior black.
Everything I painted, besides the metal, was then coated in polyurethane for a protected finish.
Step 4: Fridge and Oven Doors
Chalkboard paint was brushed on the fridge door's smooth, sanded surface. It was one coat with a few touch up spots, and as long as it's coated evenly, dries very nice and smooth. Goes on very thick. Then I used the table saw and circular saw to cut a simple frame out of the same plywood used for the door. This was glued on to the outside edges. Once set I painted the frame and inside of the door white. I used a set of unneeded hinges to attach the door to the frame. Unfortunately I couldn't make it work to attach to the right side and swing open the other way!
For the oven door, I spray painted it aluminum-coloured, coated in polyurethane, and then cut out the window frame using the jigsaw. Cut a piece of plexiglass with a ruler and box cutter, then glued it in with Gorilla Glue (Not the best strength for plastic, there is probably a better option for gluing plastic to wood). Used the same style handle on the oven door as the fridge. For oven hinges I was having trouble figuring out the best option. I just scoured the local hardware store looking through the dozens of different hinges until I found one that would for sure work. Attached it to the base of the frame once hinges were installed to the door.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Gel paints were used to give the fridge door some colour. I used the thin piece of particle board as the stovetop. Cut one piece down to about 10" x 12" and spray painted it black. Then used the jigsaw to cut 4 'elements' out of the particle board - I used paintcans to trace. I used particle board because I wanted something really thin. I would recommend hardboard though just to be sure it lasts. Spray painted the elements aluminum and glued them to the black piece, which was then glued to the countertop (wood glue).
For knobs, I took leftover scrap 1/2 inch plywood and using a circular drill saw bit I drilled six pieces out. I painted these aluminum. Next I screwed 4 right into the counter by the stovetop, but just left it loose enough to spin around the centred screw. The other 2 went right above the oven. Next I cut thin pieces of plywood as the top knob pieces, painted them black. Finally, these were glued right on to the knobs over top of each screw, allowing the whole thing to still turn. I wasn't sure if this would work but it seems to be holding together fine!
Then we had to move the heavy thing into the living room for Christmas and add all the accessories and dishes.
Thanks for reading and I really hope this helps you get through your own project or get some inspiration!