The Nightstand Kitchenette

A few months ago, I decided the Princess could really do with a kitchenette. I immediately went to google and searched “DIY play kitchen” and found all these amazing examples of nightstands turned kitchenette. I had to make one – right away.

I talked to Aunt Shirley and she not only had a nightstand to spare, she had my old nightstand that she inherited when I moved out. It was much smaller than all the other nightstands I had seen on other blogs (about 15 inches across) but I felt like it was a good size for our small house. Plus, it was in the worst possible state of health, so I couldn’t make it worse:

Isn’t it bad? Who knows where the knob on the front went to, and the inside bottom is all messed up because somebody spilled a bottle of glue down there more than ten years ago and didn’t notice until she cleaned it out one day and the finish came right off. And, you can’t tell from the photo but, it wabbles.

First, I disassembled the drawer and the inner workings of the drawer. I saved the front of the drawer for the oven door and the bottom of the drawer for the bottom of the oven. It’s true that the bottom of the drawer does not stretch all the way across the bottom of the oven. Our oven is not air tight. Yes, this bothers me. No, the Princess has not mention it. She’s two.

Then I sanded and cleaned the whole thing. I didn’t sand through the finish. I’ve read several places that if you use a good primer (like Kilz or Gripper) a light sanding is sufficient. I was mostly cleaning off 2 teenage girls worth of nail polish marks and about half of the bottle of dried glue.

For the sink, I used a small rectangular cake pan. I drilled 4 large holes, one in each corner, of where the sink would go. Then I used a jigsaw to cut “straight ” lines from corner to corner.
They are not really straight, but the lip of the cake pan covers many wrongs.

I ran into one problem here. Be sure to look at the underside of you nightstand top when you are making your design to see if there are any elements that might get in the way of your future sink and knobs. I had to reposition the sink after I saw a huge chunk of supporting wood under where the faucet would have gone. It was easier to redesign the top to miss the supporting wood than it was to try to take out that piece of wood. Plus, although I couldn’t tell what that wood was there for, I felt like it might be worth keeping.

After the sink hole was done, I was ready to prime the whole thing. So I did, twice.

I used white primer on this little kitchen. The second kitchen in progress is going to be bright red and robin’s egg blue, so I used grey primer for that one. The nice man at Home Depot said that for bright colors, you need grey primer.

I painted the oven burners on top. Our kitchenette is smaller than others and only has a double burner. It’s okay. We have a small family.

The inside of the oven is silver.

The outside of the whole thing is perfectly peach, or something cute like that. It coordinated with the orange curtains.

I did not make the curtains. I bought these fabulous orange curtains on eBay more than 5 years ago. I only used them in one kitchen. The valence turned out to be the perfect height for the tiny cabinet space, so I cut it a little width wise and hot glued a seam. I drilled holes for the dowel rod and hung the curtain after the paint was all dry.

I made three knobs for the stove/oven. I started with short lengths of dowel rods. I baked lumps of polymer clay on one end of each rod and stuck them through my drilled holes with the clay lump on the bottom and the tip of the dowel rod sticking out of the top. Then I glued cabinet pulls to the tops of the dowel rods. After 5 months, one of these dowel rods has broken. When I replace it, I’ll try some kind of metal rod.

I tried the cute letter J turned upside down like the other kitchenettes I have seen, but it had two problems. 1. The Princess didn’t care for it. The minute she saw the J glued in place, she walked over to it pointing and saying, “No. No.” 2. I glued it on the top and didn’t have a good was to clamp it. I bumped it two days later and it fell right off. I thought about trying to screw it into the top somehow, but since the Princess didn’t like it anyway, I didn’t go to anymore trouble for the J. I’ve been searching occasionally at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a single handle basin faucet with no luck. But right now, the interested parties do not seem to know that there is no faucet, so we are not in a hurry.

The part that took the very longest was the oven door. I tried 3 different hinges before I found the ones that worked best for our kitchenette. The first ones set the door too high when it was closed. The second set simply fell apart with use – they weren’t designed for so much opening and closing. The third set was just right. They were from Ace Hardware. I think they were called “barrel hinges.”

Then came the Velcro. This was to keep the oven door closed, but with too much Velcro the Princess couldn’t open the door and with too little the door would flop open. We ended with a small square of Velcro in the middle, near the handle. The handle was super cheap, by the way. I found 10 drawer pulls for $5 at Big Lots. I realize this is only really a steal if I make 10 kitchenettes. I’m already working on the second with a group at church. I don’t have firm plans after that, but we’ll see what comes up.

So that’s it. That’s how I made my first kitchenette. As she grows, we’ll add more features. I thought a chalkboard on the side might be nice, but in our house right now, our motto is, “We only draw on paper.” I don’t want to confuse the poor Princess. And if I ever find that awesome faucet I’m looking for, I’ll post an update.

Nightstand: free from sister
Cake pan: on hand. Never used. Found with other pans in my house
Paint: $6 (bought swatch samples-still have some left over for expansion pieces.)
Knobs/handles: $6.50. (with 9 handles left over)
Velcro: on hand
Dowel rod: under $1.
Faucet: Haven’t found it yet, but I’m not willing to pay more than $5.
Curtains: on hand.
Misc products from Home Depot: Spackle for hole filler – got left over from mom’s house

Project (almost) complete for under $20.

Oh! And a friend called after she heard about project kitchenette and offered play food that had been sitting in her garage for months. It was enough to support two kitchenettes, so the kids at church will be enjoying that play food, too. Thanks Bekah!

If you need further inspiration for your nightstand kitchenette, check these out:

My Little Gems 
Creative Kristi
Spearmint Baby (has a working light in the oven! That’s legit.)