Introduction: IKEA Play Kitchen W/ Working Sink
Most parents of toddlers can relate to the experience of regularly lifting their child up to the sink for hand-washing throughout the day. It’s not the hardest part of being a parent, but it’s also not terribly enjoyable (for either party, I imagine).
My 2-year-old daughter — we’ll call her Emily — goes to a Montessori-style preschool during the week, and the first thing she does upon arrival is walk over to the sink, dispense some soap, and wash and dry her hands all by herself.
This got me thinking: if she can do this on her own at school, there must be a way to get her doing this on her own at home too. Well, as it so happens, last year, my parents bought Emily the IKEA Duktig, which is a popular play kitchen for toddlers.
As you might imagine, the stove, sink, oven, and microwave are all just for play. But it occurred to me that the sink has a basin (albeit without a hole/drain), and the toy faucet is not hard to remove from the product post-assembly.
I told my wife that I wanted to hack Emily’s kitchen so she could use it to wash her hands and make everyone’s life easier. Her initial reaction was one of concern — primarily that I would destroy the product in my attempt to perform this hack. And Emily really loves playing with her kitchen, so the margin for error was basically zero.
We also agreed that any solution should not involve any actual hook-ups to our plumbing. I certainly am not qualified to be toying around with those pipes, and it would be easier to wait until Emily could use a step-ladder on our existing sinks.
Finally, the solution couldn’t be very expensive — meaning that it shouldn’t cost anywhere near what it would cost to simply purchase a miniature sink for our house.
- Non-destructive to the existing product
- Self-contained (i.e. no external plumbing)
- Minimal cost
I began sketching out some ideas until I came up with something that fit the bill. What I landed on does not modify the IKEA product in any permanent way (i.e. with the exception of the hole you’ll drill in the plastic sink basin, everything can still be easily restored to its original state); is self-contained, and cost only $30.00 in parts.
- Remove the plastic sink and two divider inserts in the cabinet below the sink.
- Unscrew the two screws below the toy faucet and remove the faucet.
- Drill a hole in the center of the sink basin to drain water from, and optionally, adhere a piece of steel grate to the back of the basin to filter out solids.
Next, you have a decision to make:
You can either (1) connect the drain back into your water supply, or (2) use two 1-gallon jugs, one for clean water, and the other for drainage.
Option 1 entails the least maintenance for you (the parent), but it also means that you need to remember to change the water since it will take a long, long time to run out (i.e. evaporate) and will become dirty over time.
Option 2 requires more frequent water resupplies, but is also the cleanest way to go.
I experimented with both options, and ultimately landed on option 2, but the pictures and steps below show how to implement option 1. If you want to go the other route, simply skip drilling the second hole into the 2-gallon jug and the remaining steps should be the same.
Run the faucet tubing down through the screw hole nearest to the front of the kitchen and pull until the faucet is sitting snug against the surface.
Drill a second hole into the back of the 2-gallon jug to fit the tubing.
Fill the 2-gallon jug with water (it should be ~85% full).
Turn on the sink to get the water to fill the tubing before inviting your child to try it (otherwise it will make an unflattering noise the first time they turn it on…).
And that’s pretty much it! I added a few other bells and whistles (e.g. the bunny button, a clamp to reduce water pressure and splatter, soap, and a towel), but this should get you started! Send me pictures if you decide to give it a try and I’ll be sure to re-post them (I’m @JUSTINMKAUFMAN on Twitter).
I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments — otherwise, enjoy these pictures/videos of the finished product, and thanks for reading!