Before & After: Turn an Old Cabinet into a Kid's Kitchen

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You love your old entertainment center, but it's been sadly obsolete since you bought a flat-screen TV. Luckily, a whole new life awaits it as an adorable play kitchen for kids. This darling transformation gives you a second chance to use a beloved item, because sometimes once just isn't enough. You can also earn cash back not just once, but twice, with the Citi® Double Cash card—earn 1% when you buy and another 1% when you make a payment towards your purchases—big or small.

Cute play kitchen for kids.
Cute play kitchen for kids. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Prepare the Cabinet

Clean the cabinet thoroughly and remove all hinges, handles and knobs. Save the hardware for later use. Sand lightly and wipe off all dust with a tack cloth. Although there are many paints on the market that include primer in their formula, it is a good idea to roll on a coat of a good single primer to seal the finish and ready the piece for paint. The finish will take a lot of abuse since it will be used as a toy.

Remove all hardware.
Remove all hardware. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Paint the Cabinet a Fun Color

Paint the cabinet a color of your choice. The main body can be rolled, but you should use a brush for the trim and small areas to be sure you have good coverage. Consider painting colors that are appropriate for the area, like white inside the refrigerator and black inside the oven. Paint all shelves and doors as well.

Paint the cabinet.
Paint the cabinet. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Create the Refrigerator Door

For the refrigerator door, cut a pine panel about 1" smaller in each dimension than the size of the original door. Cut pieces of 1 1/4" round trim to frame the door. Glue and nail the pieces in place. Fill any cracks or knots with spackle and sand smooth when dry. Cut through the panel at about a third of the length to be the freezer door. The bottom two thirds will be the refrigerator door. Paint both pieces in your chosen color.

Refrigerator door ready for assembly.
Refrigerator door ready for assembly. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Set the Sink

The sink is a plastic kitchen bowl, but it could also be a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl upside down in the cabinet and draw a circle around the rim with a pencil. Draw a second circle about 3/8" inside the first circle, which will now be your cut line. Drill a hole in the cabinet inside the circle to be cut out. Put the blade of a jigsaw inside the hole and cut along the pencil cut line. Sand off any burrs or splinters. The bowl can be permanently mounted with construction adhesive or left removable for cleaning.

Use the bowl as a pattern for the sink cutout.
Use the bowl as a pattern for the sink cutout. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Mount a Sink Faucet

Cut a 1 1/4" hole at the center back of the sink location to mount a sink faucet. Use a broken faucet or one purchased at a thrift or resale store.

Be patient with a hole saw – it may cut slowly.
Be patient with a hole saw – it may cut slowly. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Create the Back Kitchen Wall

Cut a piece of masonite or 1/4" plywood to fit the back of the cabinet. Glue and nail a wooden picture frame to the center of the space and trim out the center with a jigsaw. This will be the kitchen window. Mount this assembly to the back of the cabinet with small nails.

Hold the saw level along the top of the frame to get a straight cut.
Hold the saw level along the top of the frame to get a straight cut. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Rehang the Doors

Clean the hinges and spray paint if necessary. When rehanging the doors, attach the hinge to the door and then holding it in place, screw the hinge to the frame. Move the hinges to the bottom edge for the oven door.

A portable screwdriver helps the process.
A portable screwdriver helps the process. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Make the Curtains

Choose a fabric or kitchen towel to be the curtains. Hem the sides, bottom and top with a pocket. Use a dowel rod through the pocket for the curtain rod and hang it on cup hooks mounted to the top corners of the picture frame.

Choose curtains that coordinate with the kitchen.
Choose curtains that coordinate with the kitchen. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Create a Stove Top

Cut and mount a piece of adhesive backed vinyl to fit the oven door and another piece for the stove top. Cut circles from craft foam and glue them together for the stove burners. Mount knobs on washers so that they will turn like real stove handles.

This stove top is a two burner.
This stove top is a two burner. (Image: Debbie Williams)

Add the Finishing Touches

Reuse the original handles and knobs or purchase more modern ones. Add cup hooks to hang utensils and a chalkboard to keep the grocery lists.

Darling!
Darling! (Image: Debbie Williams)
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