Mini-Bar in the Toddler Room

Hey good and faithful readers!  If you’re reading these words right now, I love ya!  You are the bestest and sweetest and have stuck with me after a two point five week (unintended) break!  Christmas prep (read, the play kitchen) kicked mine and Anthony’s butts and then right after the big reveal Christmas day, we started packing and headed out and up to St. Louis for my best friend’s wedding!  Then we all decided to get sick and we’re still sick and trying our best to recover.  It’s been crazy around here and I don’t think I picked up my computer once in that span!  But, never fear, I’m back and I’ve got some good stuff to share and lots of catching up to do! 

As much as I’d love to take up a whole post writing about how great 2014 was and all the highlights and lowlights and in-betweenlights, time is precious around here and I think we’ll just skip right into 2015 without a look back.  What a better place to start than one heck of a DIY – the play kitchen.  You guys.  This little kitchen we were so excited to make became the bane of our existence for three days straight.  What was supposed to be an easy and fun DIY turned into a problem-solving challenge.  It was one thing after another.  Not to mention the fact that we did this with the three kids running around!  We had it locked up in our bedroom and we’d take turns watching the kids and being locked in with it, working hard to get it done before Christmas!  But, we got to the end and we’re so happy with the way it turned out!

diy play kitchen

In case you didn’t read this post, we found an entertainment center at Goodwill for $5.99 a few weeks ago that matched our criteria for a future play kitchen.  We had been on the hunt for one for months and were willing to spend up to $30 so this one was heaven-sent at 1/5 of that price.  The structure itself is made of laminated particle board and in great shape and the doors are solid wood and beautiful!

It all started with a simple plan - use the basic structure of the entertainment center as is, separate the large compartment on top into two by adding a partition down the middle, add the double doors (refrigerator) to the left side of the large opening, create an oven in the left compartment under the fridge, add a curtain for storage over the right compartment, plant a sink and faucet above the curtained compartment complete with some faux penny tile and a faux window on the back wall above the sink.  Add some paint and little details here and there and bada bing, bada play kitchen.  And then alllll that changed.  On second thought (and right before we started), Anthony decided our initial plan wouldn’t be very conducive to play.  It was too small of a space to accommodate two little girls + their friends + the occasional mom/dad/little bro bomb.  So, we decided to remove the top of the entertainment center, repurposing it as a fridge.  I’ll get into that more later.

Once we had our final plan and all of the supplies were accumulated, it began.  (I know that not every entertainment center is the same so I know that the way we did things won’t apply to everyone but I hope that in some way, a tutorial will help inspire you to create one yourself and maybe help in the how-to area.  Also, I’ve included affiliate links to some of the products we used.  We purchased everything we used ourselves so if you click and purchase through an affiliate link, we’ll get a (very) small kickback.)

The wood doors of the entertainment center were unattached when we bought it from Goodwill and had a good amount of tape residue on them.  Also, all of the hinges were very rusted and needed to be removed and tossed.

To remove the tape residue, I sanded down the gunky areas with a medium-grit piece of sandpaper (soap and water didn’t cut it).  Then, to roughen up the doors a tad to ensure maximum paint adhesion, I sanded them down quick with a fine-grit sanding block. 
    photo 1 (10)

After all was sanded, I vacuumed up all the sawdust and used a damp cloth to wipe everything down.  The last thing I did to prep the doors was fill in all the hinge and hardware holes.  I used the same technique I used with filling in the hardware holes on this desk awhile back – over-fill holes with wood filler, let dry, sand, wipe, over-fill holes with spackle to make them smooth, let dry, sand, wipe.
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Post-wood filler:
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I also took the fine-grit sanding block to the rest of the cabinet to prep for paint.  (I had some issues with primer and paint sticking even after sanding.  They must’ve used some sort of spray adhesive during assembly at the factory because there were areas along seams that resisted paint and crackled when painted.  I’m assuming it was glue overspray.  I didn’t have time to backtrack so I just painted a few coats over those areas and eventually it covered even though it’s still rough in some areas.  Next time I paint anything laminate like this, I’ll probably wipe the entire thing down with some Goo Gone or something like that.)

After everything was sanded, it was prime time.  The oven door and fridge doors were going to be spray painted silver so I primed them with some gray primer we had left over from way back when.  The inside of the oven also got primed gray.  Everything else would be light or white so it got primed white.

Let’s break it down now (imagine the musical notes emoji):

The Fridge

Instead of the built-in fridge we had first planned, we went with a standalone.  To build it, Anthony sawed off the entire top 2/3 of the entertainment center and took it apart, piece by piece.  In the end there were around 10 different pieces of wood trim, the sides, the top, hardware, etc…  The sides of the fridge are the original sides to the top of the cabinet and the top and bottom are the original top of the cabinet cut in half.  Get it?  To connect everything, he used the existing L-brackets and pocket screws.  (I didn’t take any pictures of this part!  So sorry!  We were so involved with this thing that snapping a still or two was the last thing on my mind!)  The existing backing wasn’t large enough to cover the whole space of the new fridge because the girls had knocked out a large perforated area so we cut and taped together a couple of pieces to fit.  You can see the seam above the top shelf.

(The doors look a little splotchy in this pic because they are.  Explanation to come…)

To give off the feeling of “cold”, I painted the inside a cool blue (Sprinkle by Valspar).  The shelves are the existing shelves that came with the entertainment center, primed and painted to match.  The outside is white and the doors were spray painted with Design Master’s super silver.  I was so excited to try this DM spray paint because I had read great things about it and how it has the best reflective quality and as much as I loved the color, I’m disappointed in the quality.  I only used 3/4 of a can to spray paint all of the doors, front and back, plus the stove burners but there seems to be a lingering residue.  It was all over Anthony’s hands the day after they were painted, as he was attaching them to the kitchen.  We chalked it up to the fact that they had only been drying a day but days later there will still be a silver residue on our hands if we rub the doors.  I wiped them down to see if it’d help and not only did it not help but it made the doors a little blotchy.  Such a bummer for a comparatively expensive spray paint.  Anyone else use DM spray paint and run into this issue?

Back to fridge construction though, the box Anthony built was a little too large length-wise for the doors (intentional so that he didn’t have to cut off the ends where he could reuse the pocket screws, so he added a piece of trim from the original structure to the bottom to cover the gap left there when the doors were closed. 

Attaching the doors took us a couple of hours and earned us lots of patience points.  We purchased four new hinges (two for each door) and it was matter of me holding the doors up to the cabinet, Anthony measuring, re-measuring, measuring again, drilling, screwing, having two screw heads break so, redoing, blah, blah, blah.  I’m not including the links to the hinges we used because of the crappy screws they came with but these are similar and hopefully better.

On the left side of the fridge there are four holes along the top where trim was originally attached so I screwed some Ikea knobs through the holes so the girls could hang their aprons.  :)

The long bar hardware on the doors was purchased on eBay.  I got all three bars for $15; a fraction of what I would’ve paid at Lowe’s.  They’re nice and heavy and the quality is great!  I’d highly recommend this eBay store if you’re in the market for some!

The Stove

The stove is on top of the left compartment on the bottom half of the entertainment center (mother’s sister’s friend’s wha?).  To serve as a countertop, we bought a piece of 1/2 thick plywood from Lowe’s, sanded it down so it was nice and smooth (no slivers to be had here!), gave it a couple of coats of clear Polycrylic, and attached it from underneath with some screws.  Originally, my plan was to paint it white and give it a faux marble look with some gray streaks (like Jesse’s countertops) but I kinda liked the butcher block look in the end and so for now, natural it stays.

For the burners, we used two sizes of round wood plaques I bought at JoAnn Fabrics and some square wood rods that Anthony cut into pieces (also found at JoAnn’s).  The knobs are made out of small wood rounds and pieces of the square wood rods cut down to size and cut with a point at one end (he cut an extra knob dial just in case I wasn’t happy with the points on one…good hubby knows his wifey.)
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I spray painted the burners silver, painted the small rods black, and attached the two with Liquid Nails.
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The striped black background of the stove area I drew on with a ruler and hand-painted black.  It wasn’t necessary but without it, it looked a little funny with just some random burners glued to a countertop.  The striped area helps to define the stove.  :)
On day two of the kitchen’s existence, Basher Smasher (Sebastian) managed to remove half of the little black rods we worked so hard to make and the stove area looked like this:
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So in a bag they went, labeled “for more mature days”, and I went back in and painted on the burner lines.  The knobs I have yet to reattach but I’m trying to figure out how to Seb-proof still.  They actually spin, which is super cool.  We used Young House Love’s technique to make that happen.


I still want to add a HI and LOW around the knobs but for now, here’s where we’re at: IMG_5688
(The oven door and countertop look a tad warped in the above picture thanks to the camera lens.  They’re straight in real life…promise.)

The Oven

The oven was our biggest challenge.  Painting it was simple.  It was when we went to attach it to the cabinet that we had some issues.  I primed the entire inside with gray primer and painted it with the gray paint I had leftover from stenciling our entry rug (Cathedral Stone by Valspar).  The door was primed gray and painted with the DM silver.  We grabbed an 8 x 10 piece of plexiglass from Lowes for the window that Anthony cut out of the door and attached it with some Liquid Nails (and then C punched it out during a temper tantrum three days later and we’re in the process of a re-install that’s tantrum-proof).  The wire rack is the one that belongs to our actual microwave (we never use it) and that happens to fit perfectly width-wise even if it is a little short depth-wise.  Anthony cut and attached two pieces of 1 x 2 to fit along the sides of the oven to support it.


Here’s where things got dicey.  We wanted the oven to do as ovens do and open from the top.  But, because of the trim on the very bottom of the entertainment center, it wouldn’t open more than a couple of inches before it hit the trim below (read:  scratch the paint I worked so hard at brushing on).  We realized this prob circa midnight the night before Christmas.  So, Anthony grabbed a leftover piece of trim, cut it down to fit width-wise into the bottom front of the oven and then sliced it in half length-wise so that we could attach the oven door to it and still have the door fit the space; not hit the countertop above.  The hinges we used for the oven door are strap hinges and more heavy-duty than those we used on the fridge.

It took a lot of last-minute painting and install but we got it in.  To hold it closed, Anthony installed a magnetic catch at the top center of the oven.  We also had to install some friction lid supports on each side of the door to keep it from opening all the way so that the kids couldn’t climb on it once open (which they tried) and to keep it from hitting the trim below.
We didn’t have a choice between brass or silver with the lid supports at Lowe’s but personally, I have a thing for gold and gray and so I’m totally fine with it.  :)

The Sink Area

The sink is actually a stainless steel mixing bowl we had laying around.  Anthony cut out a circle, lined the lip of the bowl with some silicone caulk, and dropped it in.

 photo 5

The faucet is our old, leaky faucet that we actually threw out, realized we could use it on the play kitchen hours later, and dumpster dove for.  Don’t worry, we gave it a thorough cleaning and cut all of the copper wiring and excess tubing off the bottom.  Anthony attached it just as it was attached to our countertop, with the existing nut and bolt.


I sewed a curtain out of this Nate Berkus fabric to cover the space below the sink and hung it with some curtain rings on a small tension rod.


And I think that just about does it!  Whew!  Right?  Can we talk about a labor of love?  This one takes the cake!

photo 2 (11)


>>> Budget Breakdown <<<

Entertainment center:  $6 (Goodwill)
Spray paint:  $3.75 (MIchael’s - $7.50 + a 50% off coupon)
Paint and primer:  $0 (used leftovers)
Bar hardware:  $15 (eBay)
Hinges and magnet:  $9  (Lowe’s)
Friction lid supports:  $6 (Lowe’s) 
Burners and knobs:  $10 (JoAnn’s – used a 25% off total purchase coupon)
Plexiglass:  $3 (Lowe’s)
Wire rack:  $0 (belongs to our microwave)
Piece of 1 x 2 for wire rack supports:  $3
Plywood countertop cut-to-size:  $12 (Lowe’s – they cut it for free)
Faucet:  $0 (our old one)
Sink bowl:  $0 (already had)
Fabric for curtain:  $9 (JoAnn’s – was on sale for 40% off plus used a 25% off total purchase coupon)
Baskets:  $0 (JoAnn’s – stolen from Sebastian’s room)
Knobs on fridge:  $0 (Ikea – bought years ago)
GRAND TOTAL:  $76.75 ($27 over our inital $50 budget but even so, not bad!)

We moved the kitchen to the girls’ room yesterday and I’ve got plans to still get in the faux penny tile backsplash I wanted along with a window and a light above the sink.  Oh, and did I mention that we moved the girls into our previous guest room a couple of months ago? 

Their room is pretty plain right now but I have plans yo.  They might take awhile to come to fruition but I can’t wait to see it evolve.

As you might’ve guessed, we moved Seb into their old room and he’s still living with half of their decor on his walls and their pretty curtains over his closet.  Progress is slow ‘round here folks.

Slow but with great results…usually.  ;) 



  1. This is awesome! I've been watching for this post ever since seeing the kitchen on insta! You guys have awesome talent and the girls are very lucky :D

    1. Thanks Becca! You're so sweet! Come over for breakfast in the new kitchen anytime! :D

  2. This came out beautiful and even with going over budget it still is a bargain!

    1. Thanks Lisa! For it's size it really is a bargain!

  3. This is amazing. You are amazing!M

  4. Wow!! Great job! What lucky girls

    1. Thanks Kathleen! They are so lucky and not only because they've got it, but because they'll never burn anything in that oven...unlike their mom. ;)

  5. So cute! Love the realistic touches too like the window on the oven, the sink faucet, and the grid around the burners. You did a great job!!

  6. This is amazing!!! So impressive. I would have died and gone to heaven if I got that for Christmas as a little girl.

    1. Thanks Emily! I know!! Me too! Ours was Fisher boring Price... ;)

  7. This turned out awesome! I love that it looks like a real kitchen, instead of so many (ours included) that is plastic and weird-colors. I'm sure your kids will have a blast with it–our kitchen/play dishes/food is definitely a crowd fave around here. :)

  8. To make doors and fronts perfectly fit, first attach then with double sided scotch to the spot, then draw the place for drilling the holes. My DH learned this trick last week.

    1. Oh! Thanks for the tip! So you attach the hinges with double-sided tape or the doors themselves?

    2. My dh had to put in place some drawer fronts so he was taping the fronts to the drawer... I'm not the pro here - i guess it depends on every situation :-)
      I'm passing the trick because it was some kind of an IMPORTANT trick for my dh :-)