You don't have to give away or toss that old piece of furniture that you aren't using any longer. Furniture that is still structurally sound becomes durable play kitchen furniture and child-sized appliances with a little paint and attention to detail. Add a small chalkboard or area of chalkboard paint for a pretend shopping list, along with a few kid-sized utensils, for a play kitchen that's sure to delight.
1. Nightstands and End Tables
A nightstand or end table is a size a child can stand next to and work upon, making it ideal as a play oven with stove, or a sink. Repaint the entire stand or table in the color scheme of the play kitchen's appliances, such as white or aqua. Painted circles on the top serve as faux burners. A piece of wood trim or a wood shelf attached to the back serves as the control panel for the oven or stove; paint knobs on, or add actual turning knobs by repurposing old knobs or faucet handles attached to dowels and a block of wood on the back, which allows the knobs to spin. Add a cabinet door to the front, painted to look like a windowed oven door, so the kids can bake a nice fake meal.
2. Large Entertainment Center
An entertainment center -- that all-in-one huge piece of furniture designed to house a TV, VCR, stereo, video games and the like -- turns into a complete play kitchen wall complete with refrigerator, sink, oven and microwave. A tall vertical section of the entertainment center becomes a refrigerator; add cabinet doors for the refrigerator and freezer if it does not already have two doors. The short, wide span designed to hold a TV becomes a kitchen counter containing both a sink and a bowl. Cut a hole in the top and insert a large metal salad bowl to form a sink basin, if you like. A painted-on window over the "sink" emulates the outdoor view over a standard kitchen sink. Add cafe curtains and play kitchen utensils to round out the look. Non-toxic paint provides an odor-free, safe finish for a play kitchen.
3. TV Stand or Record Cabinet
A wide TV stand or vintage record cabinet becomes a large counter space for a play kitchen. One half of the stand or cabinet makes an oven area; just reattach the door so it hinges on the bottom with a sturdy magnetic clasp on the top. The other half serves as cupboard space under a makeshift play sink. Add a backsplash from a piece of scrap paneling; paint a tile design on it for a backsplash effect.
An unneeded desk, whether designed for a child or adult, becomes a cooktop and sink area for a play kitchen. A drawer in the desk serves as storage space for utensils. On the desk surface, half serves as cooking area; the other is a sink or griddle. Make the griddle area with chalkboard paint, which allows the kids to draw the dish they're cooking -- bacon and pancakes, perhaps -- directly on the "cooktop."
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