Monday, October 13, 2014

DIY Toy Kitchen - Sink Tutorial

I may be crazy, but I don't like most of the toy kitchens out there. There was really only one I had considered purchasing and it was the DUKTIG from Ikea. The main reason I don't like all the usual play kitchens are because they are too detailed and specific. By that I mean that there's a door for the microwave with number buttons on it and the fridge door has a drink dispenser painted on and etc, etc. I wanted a toy kitchen that could be used as the sink/cabinets in a doctor's office or at the hair salon as well without the problem of "you can't put doctor tools in there, that's the microwave!" To me, the simpler and less decorated the better. That's why I liked the one from Ikea, very simplistic.

But I didn't buy it. And here's why. I knew I could make one with a MUCH smaller budget so I figured I'd save my money for things that were more difficult or labor intensive for me to make (such as anything that involves a lot of sewing...). I honestly only spent $1 to make this sink, but even if you don't have as many random bits and pieces hanging around the house as we do, I doubt you'd spend more than $10 on everything, if that. The jumbo boxes of diapers we were buying so often were the perfect size for my kitchen cabinets and so I set aside 3 and got started. Here's a breakdown with detailed pictures of the sink. The following materials list may seem intimidating, but keep in mind the sink with its faucet is the most complicated of the 3 pieces.

Materials used:

  • large diaper box
  • clear packing tape or glue
  • ruler & pencil
  • box cutter
  • duct tape
  • white contact paper (or whatever color you prefer)
  • large rectangular tupperware container
  • screwdriver
  • drawer pull handle with bolts
  • small bolts, nuts and washers
  • hot glue gun
  • red & blue caps from squeeze fruits
  • PVC pipe
  • foam board
  • box from a bar of soap
  • scraps of cardboard
1. Tape or glue the flaps shut on the box. Draw a door on the front of the box, leaving a 1-2" space around the door. Using the box cutter, cut out 3 sides of the door.

2. Reinforce the hinge with some duct tape on the inside and outside.

3. Cover box with contact paper.

4. Measure the distance between screw holes in your drawer handle; with your screwdriver, make holes in your door where you'd like the handle to go. I think I made my top hole 1" from the top of the door and 1.5" from the side.

5. From your cardboard scraps, cut one or two rectangles and make holes in these for the handle's bolts as well. These will help strengthen the door, making sure your child can't rip the handle out of the door! You'll have to find small bolts to attach the handle, the ones that come with the handle will be too long - but don't get rid of them! We'll use them later :-) You don't need to glue the cardboard rectangles to the door, the bolts will hold it all in place!

6. Now the tricky part, the sink and faucet. First, cut a hole in the top of the box so you can slip a rectangular tupperware container into it. I traced around the top of my tupperware and cut a little smaller than the outline. Tip: a hole that's too small can be cut bigger but a hole that's too big can't be fixed!
For the faucet, my sister in law happened to have a couple small unused pieces of PVC pipe and 2 corner pieces. So my husband cut them to size, I painted them and set about attaching it to my cabinet. For a little top support, I cut 4 circles from foam board then cut out the middles so the pipe could slide in. For bottom support, I used a box from a bar of soap glued under the cabinet; that way the pipe could just sit in the box. I stuffed some cardboard scraps to fill in the space between the soap box and the back wall of the cabinet. If you don't happen to have random bits of pvc around or don't want to bother with cutting and painting and creating a weird support system (and I wouldn't blame you!), this faucet from Childhood101 is perfect. I was planning on doing that until my sister in law gave me the pipes and then I was just stubborn enough to want to complete the sink without spending another cent.
Finally, the faucet knobs. I love using the squeeze fruit caps because 1. I didn't have to buy anything and 2. they're color coded for teaching hot water on the left and cold water on the right! To attach them, my husband drilled holes in the middle of the caps and I used my trusty screwdriver to make holes in the box. The bolts that came with the drawer handle were the perfect length to go through the cap. I secured the bolts with a washer and nut, leaving it loose enough to be able to turn the knobs. I did, however, hot glue the washer and nut to the bolt (but not to the cabinet! Then it won't spin!) so they wouldn't loosen and fall off.

This is what the completed sink looks like! Complete with tupperware sink basin, small empty soap bottle and a piece of scrub sponge to wash all those dishes. I swear it's not as much work as it seems, especially if you spend a couple bucks on extra parts and make your faucet the way Childhood101 did. I'm sure you're also wondering how well a cardboard box kitchen will stand up to a toddler. Well, I often call Little C "Destructo Junior" because she manages to disassemble or break most things, much like her dad. And yet the above photo was taken today, 11 months after the sink was first made! The top is a little sunk in and the corners of contact paper don't look as perfect as they used to, but it is still definitely in one piece and functioning just as well as it did almost a year ago!

There won't be any more full tutorials on the rest of the kitchen, but the other 2 pieces were made using most of the same methods as the sink so you'll be able to recreate those as well if you'd like. Click here for a full tour of our play kitchen!


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