Upcycled Play Kitchen: Part 3 ~ The Final Chapter

Yay! It is finally done. I have to say, that this play kitchen project seemed to drag on for way to long and I found it very hard to get the job done. Obviously, I didn’t really have a reason to make it in the first place and have no plans for what I am going to do with the now finished project. The play kitchen was really all about stepping-up to the challenge because it was something I had wanted to do for a very long time, regardless of the fact that my little girl will be 12 in less than a month. I have seen so many cute little play kitchen upcycles and I just had to try one out. In the end, I am not sure how much the project cost me out-of-pocket, but I do know that I spent many hours on it. I can’t say that I will be doing another one of these “just for fun” projects again, any time soon. I am pleased with the final project, but did have a few bumps along the way. I am not going to provide much of a tutorial here, but will add a few captions here and there where necessary.  If you are interested in checking-out some of the steps and tutorials that led up to this reveal, you can check-out some of the previous posts. (Remember to click on the images if you wish to enlarge them.)

Upcycled Play Kitchen: Part 1

Upcycled Play Kitchen: Part 2

Ruffled Apron Tutorial

Upcycled Chalkboard/Frame

Before Pictures:

The play kitchen was made from two old furniture pieces: our old T.V. stand and an old stereo cabinet. Both were old and dated, but in otherwise good condition.

Upcycled Play Kitchen Reveal:

I must say that I feel a little sad that this will never be used in our home. Eden is far too old to play with this and yet I still have so many ideas for what you could do to make this absolutely amazing. I even considered taking it to school, but I don’t think it would withstand the 45 five-year olds that grace my classroom each day. I think I’ll stick with the commercial set that is already there. So, the future of this little project is still up in the air, but at least it is now off my “things to do” list. I am sure it will find a good home with a little girl to enjoy it!

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Upcycled Play Kitchen: Part 2

September was crazy busy at our house.  Our September calendar included soccer practises and games, hockey try-outs for both winter and spring league, dance classes, Girl Guides, back to school for the kids and I, a family wedding, our Mother’s and Daughter’s in Touch course, two garage sales, 3 birthdays, piano lessons, Fun Fridays Youth Group, volunteering at Winnipeg Harvest, serving at church, volleyball, a few minor DIY projects, daily blogging and I tried to stay on top of the laundry, meals and house work!  On top of that I was sick with a cold. I am sure that doesn’t sound unlike most of your schedules, but needless to say, my little play kitchen project did not get much attention. However, this weekend was the first in many weeks that we did not have a jam-packed schedule and I was finally able to have a bit of time for it.  If you missed Upcycled Play Kitchen:  Part 1 and want to check-out it out, click here.

Play Kitchen Update:

I finished painting all of the pieces black and then let the paint cure for several days (or weeks in my case) before adding any tape to it.  When I measured out the board for the back of the TV stand/sink and stove, I added several inches of height to create a backsplash for the finished project.  My plan was to create a faux tile back splash.  I had used this technique in our upstairs bathroom, so I knew it would work well for this project. I took my board and figured out where the top of the “counter top” would be and marked it on my board.  I then measured the space that would be used for the backsplash and began to figure out how big to make the tiles. When measuring and marking out the squares, always start from the middle to ensure that the tiles will end up being centered.  I then taped out a grid of 2″ squares that will serve as tiles.  Taking a trowel (or something similar) apply a thin smooth layer of plaster over the taped off area (approximately 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch thick). Very carefully peel off the tape and let the plaster “tiles” dry completely. Gently sand the tiles to create a smooth surface on each tile. Re-tape the grid (your base coat will become your “grout” colour. Apply a coat of primer and then paint. Remove the tape. You may need to touch up the “grout lines” a bit. For durability, add a few coats of clear (non-colouring) urethane.  I think I added three coats to my bathroom backsplash.

Next Steps:

I haven’t had a chance to urethane the backsplash yet, so I will definitely need to do that.  I will attach the back board and work on pulling things together ~ attaching the sink, taps/spout and stove elements (which I haven’t painted yet). I really wanted to include fabric in the project, so I opted for a curtain as opposed to a door on the sink/stove cabinet. I love the fabrics I found and hope to make a few other accessories to go with the finished kitchen. Stay tuned.

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Upcycled Play Kitchen: Part 1

I have wanted to do a project like this for a very long time, but I must admit it seemed a bit much to take on and of course makes no sense at all since my daughter is already 11 and is almost as tall as me!  I don’t know why I am so drawn to make one of these, but I have seen many examples of brilliant entertainment unit updates and the cutest play kitchens ever. To be honest, the upcycled red storage unit in my son’s room was originally purchased for a play kitchen, but it was a bit daunting and I “chickened-out”.

Old TV Cabinet

I was really determined to make a play kitchen and when we switched our living room around this summer, our old TV cabinet suddenly became available!  The cost to upcycle this would be next to nothing because it was a piece I already had, so I decided worst case scenario, I ruin it and am out nothing but time and energy.  This photo was cropped from a Christmas picture, so it is not the best shot of the stand, but you can get an idea of what I am working with.  This cabinet must be close to 20 years old, but has worn well.  IMG_5415

My plan was to make the TV cabinet into the “sink” and “stove”, and then find another piece of furniture to serve as a “fridge”. I got to work right away and started to draw out a bit of a plan. I scoured the net to gather ideas and then began to collect the items I would need for my own version.

Old Stereo Cabinet

I decided to start to search Kijiji for a piece that was taller and could act as the fridge in the finished project.  I was thinking a lingerie chest or highboy style dresser at first, but then it hit me – why not try to find a stereo cabinet from the same era as the TV stand.  I didn’t want to pay much as this project may not work out and even if it does, I don’t have a purchaser or destination in mind.  I really have no use for it when it is done, but I think it will be lots of fun to make.  I ended up finding this cabinet at a garage sale and got it for $10.  I am really trying to keep this project simple, so I decided to make the finished project black as well.  This meant I was able to apply one coat of paint to freshen it up and required a lot less prep work.  Needless to say, completing this project is not a top priority.  I have so many projects on my list that should take precedence over this, but I will putter away and hope to finish it up sometime this fall.


Play Kitchen Parts and Purchases

  • stereo cabinet for the fridge
  • a door from the “Re-Store” (Habitat for Humanity) $6 – this will be the door for the fridge – goodbye glass
  • pretty fabric for a curtain on the stove/sink cabinet and a few accessories – Fabric is my weakness – I totally splurged on this!
  • knobs from an antique store 4 for $6
  • wooden circles for the elements from the craft store – about $1.50 eachl
  • a silver bowl from a garage sale $1 (sink)
  • taps/faucet $5 garage sale purchase

Play Kitchen Initial Steps

  • Used my elementary school compass to draw a large circle slightly larger than the circumference of the bowl.
  • Used the skill saw to cut my very first circle – it wasn’t a fail, but not perfect.  Fortunately, the bowl has a lip and once it is siliconed in place it will not be an issue.
  • Sanded (scuffed) the entire surface of both cabinets and gave them a fresh coat of black paint.
  • Cut backs for both cabinets from scrap wood in the basement.  I wanted to use wood instead of that cardboard type of backing most of these cabinets are built with.  It will make the pieces more durable and sturdy.
  • I primed the backs and bottoms of the stereo cabinet shelves.

I am not sure what the timeline on this project will be, but now that I am back to work I will have huge time restraints and thus limited time for projects.  As mentioned above, I hope to finish it up this fall.  Maybe someone will be interested in it for a Christmas present for a little one??  Watch for Part 2 of this project within the next few weeks (I hope).

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Industrial Style Kitchen Table

Our kitchen isn’t exactly a galley style kitchen, but there is a portion of it that is definitely more long and narrow than square in design. When we moved in, we bought an inexpensive narrow table and stools, so that we had some place to sit for breakfast and lunch. The table was okay at best. It was too small to sit all four of us comfortably and was starting to show signs of wear and tear. The stool joints were loosening and hardly safe to sit in any longer. We had been looking for something new to fit in our space, and having lived in our home for 6 1/2 years now, knew exactly what we wanted. Of course, we were unable to find anything that met our criteria. This got us thinking about something custom. For us, that generally means custom built for us, by us and such was the case with our new “industrial decor” style table. We decided to go with same look as the canister shelf Tim belt a few years ago.industrial decor

Industrial Style Kitchen Table:

We measured out the space and decided that our new table would extend most of the wall and measure 78″ X 22″. This newer and bigger table would certainly meet our needs better as our previous table was quite a bit smaller at  39″ X 18 1/2″. We priced out black steel pipe and fittings from the plumbing departments at both Rona and Home Depot. The pipe isn’t cheap, but it was quite easy to work with, stable and gave us the look we were striving to achieve.  The prices were comparable at both stores and we ended up having to shop at both to find all the pieces we needed.


1. Measure out the size of the finished table top and allow for the extra inch that the flanges extend out from the pipe.  That is, the table top will need to over lap the pipes by at least 1 inch or more to compensate for the flanges that attached the poles to the bottom of the table top. At this point, you will also need to decide on the height of the table. We wanted ours to be “bar” height, so our table legs are 38 3/4″ plus the 1 1/2″ table top. It is high, but it is what we wanted.

2. Calculate the piping and fittings you’ll need to achieve the desired height. The pipes come in various lengths, so you have to play with the numbers a bit to figure out what combinations will work for you. You also need to add in horizontal support bars to make the table stable and keep it squared.

3. Shop. You’ll need to pick-up the pipe/fittings and wood for your table top. We wanted an industrial/rustic sort of a look, so we bought plain old 2″ X 8″ planks for the top.

4.  Once you get all of the black steel pieces home, you will need to wash off the oil finish and dry them thoroughly to avoid rusting. (I think Tim actually sprayed them with WD-40 once they were assembled (and then wiped it off with a paper towel) to keep them from rusting.)

5. Assemble the legs and horizontal supports.

6. Prepare the table top. This will depend on what you are using and the look you are going for. It could be anything from an old door to painted wood or stained planks like we used. Because we used planks, Tim had to brace them together on the underside with three pieces of wood (one at each end and one in the middle). He simply attached the wood pieces across the planks to hold them securely together. He then proceeded to do a combination of sanding and beating of the wood (literally). He placed old nuts, nails and bolts in an old sock and beat the wood so that it appeared aged and worn. He also applies some random burn marks with a blow torch and left it coated in a homemade concoction of coffee grounds for several hours. Once it was cleaned up and the rough edges sanded for safety, he applied a few coats of stain. We chose to make ours quite dark to match the existing shelf and the colour of our cupboards. I think it would look awesome with a lighter stain, but it wouldn’t really be great in our space.

7. Urethane the table top with at least 3 coats for protection and durability.

8. Attach the top to legs.

Tim and I decided not to exchange gifts this year, but having this table done is better than any I might have received. This industrial decor style table looks great and after spending several hours hunting for the perfect bar stools, he is now in the midst of putting the finishing touches on bar stools. Thanks honey!

Book Display Upcycle #2: Pull-out Spice Rack

Book Display Shelf

Here is a “before” shot of the book display rack.

You may remember the book rack upcycle I did a few weeks back. I used an old book display rack and converted it into a pull-out pantry style shelf that sits between my fridge and the wall. It works really well and I am happy to say that the chalkboard art has stood up extremely well – in fact, better than I would have ever expected. Not a single image has been smudged and I have yet to touch-up anything. I can’t honestly say if this is because of the hair spray I top coated it with or if it is just because I only move it in and out using the handle.  Either way, it works well and I really do love it. However, when I was making it I knew that the empty space above the pull-out shelf would bug me. It just looks like something is missing. So, I decided that I would use the other half of the display rack and convert it into a spice rack.

Empty Space Beside the Fridge

Here you can see the empty space above the pull-out cabinet that I upcycled into a pantry.

Pull-out Spice Rack:

I began by taking the second panel of the book rack completely apart and then had to spend quite a bit of time thinking about how this would work. My plan was to create a spice rack using the existing wood from the display rack. The depth of the space would accommodate the full 24″ of shelving, but in order for it to fit between the cupboard support board and the wall, I would need to make the shelves narrower. I thought this seemed like a super easy project as the modifications were quite minimal. The issue was that there seemed to be lots of little details to think about: the thickness of the pegboard backing, whether to trim the back or front of the shelves, how to keep the little lip so the spice bottles won’t fall off, how far apart to make the shelves, how to make the cut shelves fit in the grooves they previously sat in, etc. I must say, I found it a bit hard to consider all of the details that perhaps wouldn’t even be considerations in a “new build”, but had to be accounted for because it was an upcycle. I got the boards cut and prepared to a point, but then had to ask my husband to help. The one and only tool that I’m not allowed to use is the table saw. I’m not exactly sure why, but Tim doesn’t feel that it’s very safe and at times I can be a bit careless. So, on Saturday I finally pinned him down and got the help I needed to do the final cuts. The new shelf is about 17″ high and 24″ long and should fit perfectly in the space, once the drawer runners are added. The front face of the shelf was not cut down as I wanted it to match the size of the bottom pull-out shelf. They won’t line-up perfectly because the bottom one is more centered in the space and the spice rack will end up sittng closer to the wall than the fridge. Keeping it the original 4″ width will also help to keep the contents of the rack somewhat hidden, as opposed to a more open look.

We got the boards cut and nailed the shelf together. I used the original top and bottom pieces from the rack and one of the shelves, but had to insert a second shelf in between so that the final spice rack would have a total of three shelves. My plan is to move all of my small spice bottles to this rack. It should be large enough to fit them all, so I will have some additional drawer space in the kitchen and perhaps some room on my pull-out rack as well. We filled all of the holes with wood filler and let it dry over night. I am out of time and weekend, so this is how it will stay until I can get back to it.

The next step is to sand and prime the shelf, so that it will be ready for painting. I can’t wait to get it mounted and see how it works!

Upcycled Book Display Rack Update

Well, I survived my marathon schedule for parent teacher conferences last week and even made it through the weekend without getting sick. Usually, I am so exhausted that I end up getting sick right after. I am still tired from the busy week, but managed to spend a bit of time on my new kitchen storage rack. I primed and painted it over the weekend and am hoping to complete the finishing touches early this week, if I’m not too bagged after work.

Book Display Rack:

In the first post, I shared how I planned to re-make and repurpose an old book display rack for kitchen storage. I had to cut it down in width in order to make it fit into the space between the fridge and wall. This made for extra work, but I was determined to make this work. After cutting it down and re-building it, I filled the holes and sanded the repairs.

Over the weekend, I got it painted. This was a bit of a process as I didn’t have much energy and opted for two colours. Whenever you use more than one colour, you are essentially doubling the work. First, I had to give it a light sand to scuff up the original finish.  I then primed it and had to let the paint dry thoroughly, as I didn’t want to peel the primer when I taped off my colour lines. I then had to paint my first colour and wait for the paint to dry between coats before moving on to my second colour. One colour would have been much easier, but of course, I had a vision for how I wanted the finished shelf to look. I can’t say that yellow and black were exactly what I had in mind, but I didn’t really want to go with white and the only colour I had on hand that would work was yellow. I am all about trying to use up paint I have on hand, so I decided to go for it. The black chalkboard paint is on the outside edge only. I was thinking I might try to label it in some way…not quite sure yet. If you check out the background, you can see the state of my unfinished basement. This has been on a “to do” list for quite some time, but its not my list!!! Ugh.

The paint is still drying, but my next steps will be to add supports across each shelf. The original supports were plastic covered wires. They worked fine, but I was wanting a bit more of an industrial look. I picked up these pieces of metal strapping for a couple of bucks each and will bend the ends and screw them from the inside. I contemplated distressing the finished cabinet, but have decided to leave it for now and see how I like it. I also need to find a pull handle…not exactly sure what I want yet.

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Upcycled Book Display Rack

Custom Kitchen Storage

I am beyond excited about this project! I have had this project on my “Someday List” for years.  I originally saw this idea on a handyman website. It was basically a custom-built shelving unit for kitchen storage. I am not sure if is the same site where I first found the idea, but this the same concept.  I loved the idea, but my building skills are still quite limited and my husband is not fond of the “make work” projects that I suggest for him. So, I “shelved” the project hoping that someday I would develop the skills to build one for my kitchen.  As soon as I got this free book rack loaded in my car, I got that twinkle in my eye and knew exactly what this would become. I remember driving home with only one thing on my mind….will it fit??

Upcycled Book Display Rack:

Original Book RackHere’s a picture of the original book rack. Each panel is about 4″ deep and 2 feet wide, but I only have two of the original four panels. Lucky for me, one panel fits almost perfectly in the space between my fridge and the wall.  I say almost because the bank of cupboards that sit over the fridge have pieces of wood that extend down to the floor on either side of the fridge (they look like supports, but are perhaps there to give it more of a finished look than actually serve a purpose). The result is that the 2 foot width will not fit. In order to use the rack, I had to cut it down to 16″. At first, I was really ticked about this and although I am still not happy about the extra work and lost storage space, I did manage to figure out a little something that made it a little less disappointing.  I will share this in the final reveal as well, as I haven’t got it all figured out yet.

Steps to Transformation:

  1. First, I had to take the whole thing apart. It was primarily held together with screws and a few nails, so I didn’t have to fuss with glue and that made the dismantling that much easier.
  2. I was able to keep both sides in tact, but I had to cut all of the horizontal pieces and the peg board back down to 16″.  I was able to do this easily on the mitre saw, with the exception of the peg board back. My husband kindly helped me out by cutting it on the table saw.
  3. The plastic covered wire cords extending across the books were just attached with hook screws and were easily removed as well.
  4. The ends of the horizontal shelves actually fit into grooves in the sides. The problem was that the shelves did not have a straight cut end. The front couple of inches were straight, but the back part was curved. This meant I had to trace the curve and cut it with the skill saw. I did fine with this, but the curves did not match the original cuts perfectly.  For the most part it’s not noticeable, as the end of the board and my cut is hidden in the groove of the side board. There is a slight gap if you look closely, but it will never really be seen once it’s in use.
  5. The other tricky part was positioning the wheels so that the shelf would slide in and out easily while providing the stability needed for it to stand freely when not between the fridge and the wall. I am actually still playing with this and may end up buying 1.5″ flat ball casters as suggested by the poster of the above cabinet.
  6. Everything is put back together, holes filled and ready for paint.

I can’t wait to get back to it and finish this project off, but the weekend is over and I have a super busy week ahead with Parent Teacher Conferences. Hopefully I won’t be too bagged after a heavy week and can finish it up next weekend. Stay tuned….

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Pretend Pizza for Dramatic Play

I have been working on transforming my play kitchen at school into a pizza restaurant. I will share the entire center, but wanted to start by sharing the pretend pizza. My goal was to create pretend pizza that I could use over and over again, year after year. I wanted to put big effort into the creation of the center, so that I could simply store the items away when it is not in use and pull them out the following year. I didn’t want to have to re-collect and re-make items for the restaurant. I came up with this idea for the pizza and they turned out great. I am still on the look-out for a 12″ wooden base, but otherwise the pizzas are done. This would be great for any classroom, day care or child that loves to engage in dramatic play. What a great DIY gift for that special little one who loves pretend play.

Any child that likes to play house would love this as a gift or play center at school or day care. The bases were not easy to find, but the felt pieces were super easy to make. You might be able to opt for plastic or metal plates/trays if you are finding the wood bases too hard to find. I really had/have my heart set on wood, so I will continue to look for a piece that will work for our “large” pizza.

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Hockey Wreath

So much to write about….so little time. I must admit I’m on a bit of a high right now. I’m just back to work following spring break and I had the most productive week ever. I honestly can’t even believe how much I got accomplished. Over the next few weeks, I promise to share some of my projects and hopefully our spare room make-over will be ready to reveal. So exciting!

Play Kitchen

For now, a quick post to share a wreath I just made for a fundraiser. A friend posted a picture of a similar wreath on her Facebook page and I absolutely loved it! I’d planned on making one for my own front door to put up in early fall and carry me through until closer to Christmas. I never got around to it, but when Eden’s volleyball team decided to do a fundraiser with Winnipeg Auction, I thought I’d make one as part of my submission. I thought others might like the idea as much as I did. I’m hoping the auction will also be a great forum to finally get rid of my upcycled play kitchen that is still in my basement! If anyone is interested in checking out our Vision Elite Volleyball auction follow the above link. Our auction runs from April 10th to 16th.

Here’s the wreath.

Hockey WreathCan’t get much easier than this. Wreath, gloves, cut down stick and puck. Used some wire and hot glue to put it together and voila! I look forward to making another one to put up this fall.

Thrift Shoppin’

The other day when I was trying to find a match for my wreath fabric, it just so happened that both fabric stores were in the vicinity of two major thrift shops. I love a great deal and while some get their fix at the mall, for me it’s Kijiji and thrift shops. I was already out and the bonus was that I had no family with me, so I was able to make the pit stops and check-out what the local thrift stores had in stock.  Between the two stores, I spent $35, but I am so impressed with what I got that I just had to share.

Keys to Thrift Shopping

I try to go every few weeks or so, as stock is constantly changing. I often have a list of specific things I am looking for, but when I don’t I am always looking for items that are well made, sturdy and have a nice shape or design element.  Generally, I peruse the following:

  • furniture (I rarely find good deals, but always look. I find that many of the items are over priced based on their condition and quality).
  • glass wear ~ I can often find things like vases, decorative “jars” with lids, pedestals, etc.
  • wooden accessories ~ salt and pepper mills, spoon racks, serving trays, fruit bowls, etc.
  • wrought iron

Saturday’s Thrift Shop Finds:

This was purchased at my first stop for $25. I got three great wrought iron pieces. The top left piece is a stand for a plant pot and the two below are wall mount plant holders. All of the pieces are well made and very sturdy.  I also picked up a great molded picture frame. I will be painting this out at some point, but don’t have a specific plan for it. Just loved the size and shape. I got a set of three matching pedestals of varying heights and a glass bowl. I love setting a nice table with a tiered look, so these pedestals will come in handy. I think they might actually be candle holders, but they are completely flat on top, so they can serve a variety of uses. I already have a plan for the little “welcome” sign. I love the shape of the wood and it will save me some time and energy.

When I stopped at the second thrift shop, I picked up the following items.

The first little collection is a set of things I bought for school. I am in the midst of creating a Boston Pizza center in my classroom. I plan to convert my play kitchen into a pizza center and went thrift shopping specifically to find wooden serving trays or dishes. The larger wooden tray is actually some kind of “lazy Susan” gizmo. It actually has a base that rotates. I am not sure, but regardless of what it is/was, I will be removing the base and converting this into a “medium” pizza for my center. The little set next to it “killed two birds with one stone” so to speak. The handle can be removed from the middle and the wooden base will become my “small” pizza. The salt and pepper shakers will be used on the table in the “pizza restaurant”.  The second photo shows a large wicker tray. I was specifically looking for something to sit under our fig tree pot. It has a very large pot and it is difficult to find a base that is big enough. This tray is huge and I am not exactly sure how it will look, but for a few bucks I thought it was worth a try.

Macklemore’s Thrift Shop ~ A Parody

When I was planning this post, it made me think about when this song came out. I loved this song when it was first released and my kids seemed surprised that I let them listen to it.  I knew there was some offensive “language”, but I had heard worse. It wasn’t until weeks later when I was singing in the car, that my daughter rolled her eyes and asked….”What are you singing?” I replied, “What come on sing-a-long….”this is TEAM awesome”!  She proceeded to explain to me that the song did not say TEAM awesome, but something far less appropriate. Oh. I shouldn’t actually be too surprised by my lyrical mishap as I am actually quite notorious for this. In fact, it wasn’t more than a few years ago that I learned that there was a song called “Dude Dresses Like a Lady”. Now just imagine my surprise when I thought back to my youth and how I had loved to sing along while “Do the Lucky Lady!” played on the car radio. Ugh. I really should just stick to listening to my pod casts and not even try to be “hip”.  I thought you might enjoy this Macklemore Parody.  (Not squeaky clean, but not too bad.)

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