Published on January 16th, 2013 | by Jules Yap


Manly DIY Play Kitchen

Materials: Malm nightstands, Bygel rail and hooks, Lansa drawer pulls, Duktig utensils and pots/pans,

Description: I made my two year old son a bitchin’ kitchen, inspired by the likes of Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, and Anthony Bourdain (who’s kitchen I’ve never seen, but I can only imagine). The kid loves cooking SO much, I knew this would be a home run gift he would enjoy for years.

But of course I couldn’t just buy one and put it together—where’s the fun in that?!

I hunted down gently used furniture I might be able to turn into a culinary haven. I finally scored two Ikea Malm nightstands.

I won’t lie, there were several challenges during this project.

First challenge? Little to no work space. We have a tiny basement and no garage to set up tools or a work table. And with the winter weather on our heels, the driveway/backyard weren’t awesome options. We were scrunched, to say the least.

Second challenge? It was not my intent to get two different cabinets. I got the small one first, then a week later picked up the bigger one, immediately realizing the problem. They were both “Malm nightstands” but I should have asked for measurements…lesson learned. Though at $20, I decided I could make it work and bought the big one anyway, hoping to solve my height variance issue later.

I moved forward with paint. After sanding everything down (just to rough up the shiny veneers), everything got a coat of my fav primer—it adds more “stick”. I then sprayed the small cabinet with aluminum paint and brushed the big one with white trim paint, the drawers with black chalkboard paint. Everything but the aluminum was leftover from other projects, saving me big $$.

When all painting was complete (which seemed to take FOREVER) I hit everything with a coat of polyurethane …especially the oven. The aluminum had a tendency to rub off on hands/clothing/anything and I wanted to be sure it stayed put. I hit the knobs and burners with poly too.

Third challenge? The tile backsplash. It took me about a minute to find the tile I wanted, a glass, greenish, subway variety at Home Depot that I’ve been drooling over for years. But since we haven’t done a tiling project in about 7 years, we were supply-less—there in lies the challenge. Good thing I was able to talk a nice Home Depot flooring expert into doing this part of the project for me…whew.

Which brings me to the Fourth Challenge. The oven door.

Let me start by saying we are in NO WAY wood-workers. (Pretty sure that will be eminently clear in the next paragraph) While I’ve been reading and learning from the likes of Ana White, I’m long from being confident with this fine art.

So if you think it’s possible to cut a hole in the middle of a piece of oak plywood (leftover from a train project of some kind), you’d be dead, dead wrong. Believe me, we tried, and failed miserably. We hurled the result in the trash after two days of attempting some emergency wood-filler-and-primer surgery…it was so bad I didn’t even take a picture.

It caused some major frowny faces, arguments, guffaws of frustration, some reading time on Ana White’s website, and another trip to Home Depot where I took up a whole aisle laying out my pieces and measuring everything at least 10 times. Luckily the weather cooperated so we could work outside on “Oven Door Part Deux”.

The results were PERFECT.

Luckily, there were a few “piece of cake” parts. Like the sink (a dog bowl from Amazon), faucet (recycled from Stu’s grandparents), burners (wood discs and dowels from Michael’s), knobs (painted wood discs from Michael’s), and oven legs (large wooden dowel cut down) all came together with no problem.

A few touchups, some hinges, handles, oven rack, and knob attachment finished the project. I couldn’t help but make them Wolf red.

The piece behind the knobs is actually an original drawer cut down and gorilla-glued to the top of the oven opening. To attach the knobs we drilled holes slightly larger than our screws. A tiny pilot hole in the back of the knobs helped the screw go in without cracking the wimpy wood disc. The knobs turn freely without falling off.

I built the oven rack out of a small metal cooling rack. A couple screws (which I painted black) hold it in place nicely.

A piece of plexi finished the oven door (easy buy at Home Depot but I had to cut it down myself). I was sure to drill pilot holes in the plexi AND wood to prevent cracking. A magnet holds the door closed. And, my favorite part, I added a cheapy motion sensor light that turns on when the door is opened. Fabulous!

Glue, scissors, and some paint made the burners look like they could pack some heat.

I used my favorite drawer pulls from Ikea, the same ones we used in our old kitchen. They make perfect tea towel holders too!

We’re so pleased with the turnout and can’t wait to try all the yummy food Ethan will make us for years to come!

Check out the full story at my blog:

Product list
Tile: Home Depot; Cutting Food: Melissa & Doug; Toaster: Hape; Stand Mixer: Hape; Utensils: Ikea; Pots & Pans: Ikea;Handheld Mixer: Pottery Barn Kids; Red Hanging Bucket: Ikea; Hanging Rail: Ikea; Drawer Pulls: Ikea; Cabinets: Originally Ikea, found on Craigslist; Faucet: hand me down; Sink: dog bowl from Amazon; Burners: DIY; Knobs: DIY; Wooden Crate: leftover packaging from christmas gift; Oven Rack: already owned; Metal pitcher: Ikea; Espresso Cups: Ikea; Baking pan set: Pottery Barn Kids; Aluminum Spray Paint: Rustoleum.

Check out the full story at my blog.

~ Becky @, United States

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

19 Responses to Manly DIY Play Kitchen

  1. What a great idea for kids who are interested in cooking. I admire the hard work and thoughtfulness that you put into building this amazing toy. This would be ideal for my niece who is always following me around in the kitchen. I am now interested in building her a play kitchen for her birthday.

  2. Preparing for Peanut says:

    I used Rustoleum Aluminum Spray Paint purchased from Ikea.

    Thanks Anonymous for solving the different size mystery! They were both listed on craigslist as Malm but serves me right for not asking for measurements…I usually do.

    Alana, you should try craigslist! It is amazing. Not scary at all. But it sounds like the cabinets are available at Ikea so go for it!

    Brittany, I had the tile placed on a sheet of ply wood that spans the whole back of the two base cabinets. So it’s attached with screws at the back. The upper shelf is attached with 3 L brackets in the plywood. If you visit my blog, there is a pretty clear picture of how the backing is attached to the tile and cabinets. Sorry I didn’t take a pic of the top shelf attachment!

  3. I love it!! How did you make/attach the backsplash and upper shelf to it?

  4. Alana says:

    Hi there,

    This turned out great. I just wanted to know what brand aluminum paint you used, and if you could get those Ikea Malm nightstands in your average Ikea shop at the moment (I’m asking because flea markets and garage sales scare me, what with all the haggling and stuff!)


  5. Anonymous says:

    Nice job!

    The small cabinet is not a Malm, it is a Kullen which explains the different measurements.

  6. Doodle Bean says:

    Great job! How special it is that you built it for him instead of just buying some plastic crap. Thanks for posting this!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lots of work and thought put into this! A really delightful “toy”! Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Preparing for Peanut says:

    Thanks for the nice comments!! It was a blast to build. And Anonymous, I didn’t mean it’s only a boy kitchen, I just tried to make it gender neutral as opposed to the pink craziness play kitchens that are so abundant. Believe me, if I owned my home, my kitchen would look exactly like this! :)

  9. It does look very nice, and like a very valuable toy for Ethan — considering all the thought and from the sound of it love you put into it, ;-) .

    So long,

  10. Tanya says:

    Awesome! You are talented. I would totally buy it if it was in stores.

  11. Jacqueline says:

    Awesome!!!!:) your son is so lucky!:)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Love this play kitchen. Just have one question: What makes it a “boy” kitchen? It seems to me, any girl would love this kitchen.

  13. Angela Giaco says:

    That’s such a great idea! My boyfriend loves to cook, so if we ever have kids–boy or girl–they’re going to want a toy kitchen, I’ll have to save this for if it’s a boy! :)

  14. Sylke says:

    Very, very, VERY nice!

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