Intro: Entertainment Center to Play Kitchen Conversion
This year money is a bit tight. Not being able to get anything, even for my daughter, for gifts left me in a bit of a foul mood. So instead of sulk about what I can't do I decided to look around and think a bit about what I could. I have been noticing lately that my daughter (3 years old) has been pretending to make food and drink for people quite often. Most parents might go out and get a set of play food and call it good, but I'm not what you might call... normal. Another problem we have been having lately is getting rid of our old entertainment center designed during the reign of the CRT televisions. Since nobody wanted it I figured I might as well put together a two birds one stone scenario. We had some paint lying around from past projects, just replaced our kitchen faucet, and of course everybody has random plastic tubs lying around. I had everything I needed to put it together.
Here is what you will need in materials:
1 Entertainment center, preferably one with a vertically oriented rectangular cabinet to be used as a refrigerator, and a space large enough to make a sink.
1 kitchen faucet. Look around second hand stores or antique shops for these, they should be pretty cheap.
2 Plastic tubs. Mine are from the nurses that brought us some supplies while a loved one was recovering from an accident that they used to carry in the gauze and what-not. You could just as easily use some shoebox sized totes.
3 Paint. How much depends on your needs. The more you have to cover, obviously the more you will need.
Sandpaper. I would recommend a few different grits here, some low grit for taking off the finish or veneer, and some finer stuff to sand the wood smooth.
Drill bit. Get a size that matches the threaded ends of your faucet so you can drop it into place easy and securely.
Saw. (optional) If your entertainment center has that cheap cardboard backing that has been cut out for running cables or accessing your electronics in the past you will need to replace it with some of the next item.
Plywood. (optional) Get the stuff that has a nice finish on it and is fairly thin. Go to thick and you are adding unnecessary weight and difficulty to the project. I used 1/8".
Silicone Sealant. This will be used to join pieces together made of variant materials and is also non toxic when it dries.
Hammer and finishing nails. (optional)
Screwdrivers that match your entertainment center's hardware.
Step 1: Step 1: Breakdown
Remove all of the hardware from the entertainment center. Place all of the bits and pieces into sandwich bags and label the bags with a marker to keep them organized for later. This will help you remember what to put back where. If the cabinet has glass in it like mine did, I would recommend carefully removing the glass and replacing it with some of that plywood. More than likely it is safety glass and very difficult to break, but just in case, lets keep the little ones as safe as possible. If you're up for a laugh and don't mind a bit of adult language, check out what happened when I tried to 'remove' the glass from my cabinet door... with a hammer...and failed.
Step 2: Step 2: Fabricate Some Backing. (Optional)
If your entertainment center had that cheap knockout cardboard behind it, over the years it has likely seen some wear and tear and won't look good anymore. What I did was remove the portions of it behind the refrigerator and sink, then cut out the 1/8" plywood to cover those areas. I used some finishing nails to secure the boards in place. When measuring these out don't forget to measure corner to corner to make sure the openings are actually square. If you measure one diagonal direction then the other, they will match if the opening is square. If they don't match, you may need to either square up the whole unit, or cut the pieces to fit the odd shaped opening. I would hold off on attaching the backing to the sink area until you have the sink and faucet holes cut out and everything is ready to start finishing. It will be much easier to work around that area without a board in your way!
Step 3: Step 3: Measure and Layout Your Faucet.
You can do this to your own liking, but I chose to center the faucet and sinks as best I could in the opening. If you do a single basin sink you might have room on one side or the other to paint in a stove top. With the materials at hand for me I chose to put in a double sink and I will probably make a stove/oven for her birthday in April.
Once you find the alignment for your faucet, measure the distance from the leading edge of one water connection side to the leading edge of the other. This distance will be the same as the center to center measurement and involves less guesstimating. Next measure the total width of the faucet and it's length. Measure out where the water connections will be going through the board and mark them. I recommend putting the faucet as far back as possible so your basin(s) will have plenty of room to fit. Even though I did this, I still had to do a little extra work in my project which I will cover later. Use a hole saw or drill bit that is just a bit larger than the water connections to ensure a snug fit. Once both hols are marked and drilled, test fit the faucet and correct any issues now while it's easier.
Step 4: Step 4: Measure and Layout Your Basin(s).
Get a large piece of paper or cardboard and trace around your basin(s) you will be using for the sink. I laid the paper on top of them and used a pencil to trace around the inside edge to get that exact line (kind of like a pencil rubbing technique.) Then cut out the pattern and check that against the basin(s) to make sure you have the right sized template. Lay the template on the surface of the cabinet where the basin(s) will be located and trace around it with an easy to see marker. Once the lines are drawn place the faucet back into the holes and check to see if there are any overlap issues. Don't forget to consider the lip of the basin(s) when looking at alignment. With this project the combined depth of the basins and the width of the faucet were more than the space available. Because of this I had to add a step. Now drill another hole inside the area that will be cut out to be used to start your cut. A jigsaw is probably the best way to cut out this odd shaped hole for your basin(s), just be sure to take your time with it so you get a cut that is perpendicular to the surface. Once the holes are completely cut out, test fit the basin(s) and trim as needed so they fit nicely.
Here is where I had to make another piece for things to work out for me. After dropping in my basins I realized the faucet and the basins' lips were going to overlap. Because of this I ended up putting down another piece of paper and pushing in the faucet and basins back into place with the paper sandwiched between them and the board they sat on. Then I traced out a template that would fit under the faucet and around the basins to raise the board enough to where the faucet now sits on top of the basins' lips and is still secure. After cutting out this spacer I fastened it to the board with a little silicone while the basins were still loosely in place.
Step 5: Step 5: Painting
This is probably the most tedious step, but trust me... do it right and you'll thank yourself for it. Start with the most aggressive (lowest grit number) sand paper you have. Sand down the entire cabinet to remove any finish it has on it. Sand enough to remove the veneer if you have a cheaper cabinet like mine was. It wasn't true veneer, it was that really cheap printer paper kind. If you don't remove the finish you will end up with paint that refuses to adhere to the wood and the whole thing will quickly start to look terrible as your kid(s) play with it. Let's face it, they are rarely gentle on anything... even the good ones.
After you sanded everything down with the low grit sandpaper, go over the entire thing with finer and finer grits (higher and higher grit numbers) until you have a relatively smooth feeling surface. Once all of the sanding is completed be sure to remove as much of the dust as possible. You can do this a number of ways. Since I had to do this project in my living room while my daughter was away for the weekend, I used rags to wipe, wipe, wipe until I didn't see any more dust coming off. I also recommend laying this entire thing on a sheet of plastic or some sort of drop cloth if you have any to make cleanup easier.
Now that your wood is prepared, it is time to paint. If your entertainment center had any shelves, I would recommend putting them back in now before painting. If you try to put them back later you risk scratching the paint and will need to do touch-ups. Start with light coats of primer or all in one paint. Let each layer dry well between coats. Once you don't see the color of the wood anymore add a final coat of paint with the finish and color you desire.
Step 6: Step 6: Adding the Hardware
Now that your pieces all look beautiful it is time to put it all back together. Grab those well labeled sandwich baggies full of hardware and your screwdriver. We will also need more silicone and all of the components of the sink now. First add some silicone to the bottom of the lip on your basin(s). Carefully set them in place and add a little weight on top of them to keep them in place wile the silicone dries. Once you have allowed the silicone enough time to set, remove the weight and repeat for the faucet. You can also go in from underneath and add more silicone to the perimeter of the basin(s) and to the water connections of the faucet to make sure everything is adhered well to the board.
Next go ahead and add the knobs to the doors. Finally, re-install the hinges and latches and put the doors back in place on the cabinet.
Step 7: Step 7: Stand Back and Enjoy!
You're all done! Stand back a little ways and enjoy your work!
Right now mine is in our living room right where it was before the conversion, only it is covered with an old sheet. So far my daughter hasn't become curious about it at all... hopefully she stays that way until it's time to reveal it. My mother got her some play dishes and food to go with it. My grandmother gave my daughter some money this year (we did things at Thanksgiving so she could take off for a warmer climate) which we took to the Dollar General and I was happy to see that she picked out a frying pan and some more play food for herself not even knowing about this project yet!
Thank you for taking the time to read through this Instructable! If you get it in time, please vote for me for the 2014 Christmas home made gift competition!.
If you liked this Instructable and would like to see more from me, please let me know! This was my first one and I already know I need to have better photos for some of the steps, but I would really appreciate your feedback on how I can make better 'ibles in the future!