A month ago, I had no plans of building a DIY kids kitchen for my boys. I had lots of other plans. Endless lists that had their own baby lists of plans, but kids kitchen was not one of them. Christmas changed all that.
It’s hard to figure out what to buy a baby for Christmas. They can’t tell you what they want. And it’s even harder when they have older siblings. There’s only so many stacking blocks and vtech toys a baby needs, right. That’s how I ended up buying the little guy a Play Food Set and Play Dishes dishes. It was one of the few things he didn’t have and might want. Turns out I was right. He loved it! And so did his 3 year old brother. But watching them play made me realize they needed a kitchen. And I was the woman to build that kitchen. 😉
I started planning and checking out play kitchens online. I noticed that most kitchens were kind of a standard home kitchen. I didn’t want to build something I could easily buy. I wanted it to be a bit different. What could I do that would be a bit different? Imagine me tapping a finger on my lip, deep in thought here. After a lot of lip tapping and pointlessly staring out windows, I had an idea. A DINER! I waitressed my way through college. The best restaurant I worked at was kind of a greasy diner off campus that was packed with college kids on the weekend. It was an extremely fun, barely productive year or so. Diners are great, they totally deserve a tribute. I had my mission and was ready to plan.
What could I do that would make this diner look like a diner? A good diner has a great menu. A menu full of things you really shouldn’t eat, but hey, you’re at a diner so ‘treat yo’self’! Having the menu on the wall seemed even better. The best diners display their menus like a proud work of art. I also needed a stove and oven so the boys could really cook. Food and dish storage is a necessity, of course. Then the fun little touches, a bell the boys can hit when they yell, ‘Order up’, a ‘open and closed’ sign, a ‘please wait to be seated’ sign, a place to put checks the cook is working on, and a hook to hang towels on. All of that should pull the diner together, time to build.
I say this in a lot of posts, but it’s true, I have loads of scrap wood. For this build, I only had to buy a little trim, a bell, a light, and a hook. So, it was really cheap for me to build. I glued and nailed wood to mdf to create supports for the sides and middle. The back and front were cut from mdf and attached to those side and middle pieces. I trimmed the corners with standard corner moulding and added some lattice along the bottoms and near the top to give the piece a more finished look. I designed the front of this DIY kids kitchen to have a little oven with a shelf below for storing dishes. The large opening was made to hold a large, wheeled bin we already had. The bin has been perfect for all those mini food items. The wood counter top and serving shelf were stained with Minwax’s Jacobean. I made the grey stripe in the serving shelf with watered down paint so that the wood grain wood still show through. Behr’s Polished Pearl (white) and Squirrel (grey) are the two colors I used. They’re colors that I already use around the house. I thought they would make the kitchen feel more realistic and grown up for the boys. The colors also keep my living room looking styled. I decided to put the diner in a ‘dead corner’ of the living room that needed some purpose. This little diner gives that corner purpose and a whole lot of character.
All the little details are key to giving it that realistic touch and making the play set more fun for the kids. Let’s get into all those fun little details now.
Over Easy Diner menu
I love this sign. It’s cute enough to be art and definitely gives the kids diner some extra character. I painted plywood for the sign and trimmed it with stained 1×2’s. I designed the menu in PowerPoint by setting the slide size to the size of my plywood. I chose Comic Sans font because it kind of looks like a kids handwriting. It worked great with the overall design. After finalizing the menu, I saved it as a pdf. This automatically opened it in Adobe Acrobat Reader on my computer. From Adobe Acrobat Reader, select print, poster sizing, and cut marks. This will print large images across multiple sheets of paper. The cut marks give you a guide to match the sheets up when taping them together. Once I had my sheets taped together, I used the pencil transfer method to get the image onto my wood. Shade the back of your image with a pencil. Place the image right-side up on the wood then use a pen or pencil to outline the image. The image will now be transferred to the wood. I used a black Elmer’s Calligraphy Tip Paint Marker to go over the pencil and finish off the menu. I hung it on the wall with a picture hanger hook at the top and a Command Large Picture-hanging Strip at the bottom. Keeping it tight to the wall at both ends should keep my boys from knocking it off.
Please wait to be seated
This was another place where creating a large image in PowerPoint was necessary. I followed the same steps above and printed the image in Adobe Acrobat Reader, transferred it with pencil, then went over with the Elmer’s paint marker.
‘Order up’ bell
I may be crazy for handing my kids another noisy toy. But I do love the sound and touch of authenticity it gives the diner. I got this Call Bell for a few dollars on Amazon.
Open / Closed sign
How else would the customers know that the diner is open? This is just a block of wood that I cut a groove into with my circular saw. Lowering the cut depth on the blade to 1/4″ did the trick. A thinner board fits perfectly in the groove. The boys can flip it back and forth while playing. I like the extra 3D element this sign gives the restaurant. Lots of little elements of visual interest make this play set more entertaining for the boys.
Stove top and knobs
The stove top was painted on and topped with 4 – 6″ cork plant coasters.They make pretty convincing play burners. The knobs are wood knobs I removed from a dresser a few years ago. A little paint and detailing is all they needed. I drilled holes for the knobs and used long bolts to attach them. The long bolts let the knobs spin around without unscrewing them from the bolts. I wanted to avoid having to constantly watch the boys unscrew them. Fingers crossed that this works. 😉
Oven with light
The door was attached with 2 overlay hinges and an extra cabinet pull works as the handle. I cut an opening in the door and glued a small piece of plexiglass on the back. The light is a Motion Sensor, Battery-Powered LED Night light I found on Amazon. I really wanted the motion detecting feature to make it feel more real for the kids. And, more importantly, to make sure I didn’t have to remember to turn it off all the time. This one shuts itself off.
Of course, the cook needs a place to wipe his hands.
Order slip clips
These are mini clips I found for another project. But they work perfectly here to hold the customers orders where the cook can read them. These clips are so cute, I have to find more uses for them. I attached them to the diner with furniture upholstery tacks. Easy, peasy.
This DIY kids kitchen diner build has been great. Making something for kids lets you use your imagination and play around with ideas you wouldn’t normally get to do. The kids love their diner too, and ring the bell, of course. I’m looking forward to years of watching them play with it from the comfort of my cozy chair.
Don’t forget to save this DIY Kids Kitchen to Pinterest!
Feeling inspired? Want to build your own DIY Kids Kitchen Diner or convert an old piece of furniture into a kitchen for your kids? Pinterest is full of creative and awesome ideas. Follow the links above to get the things you’ll need from Amazon. Have fun and let me know if you have questions. Or post pictures of your work and tag Abbotts At Home on FB, I’d love to see it!