Upcycling seems to be the buzzword these days in the crafting world. Everywhere you go, people are looking to keep outdated technology, furniture and household goods out of the landfills. Its an awesome idea… go peruse pinterest.com and see what is out there. People have incredible imaginations.
As many of you know, I am a mother to a single child, a son. And he is long past being a child, being a senior in high school. So generally speaking, his toys are of the technological kind. (Translation: expen$ive). But since I love the technology as well, we both indulge.
But, I have a couple of very favorite girls who come to visit me periodically, my grand-nieces (my oldest brother Joel’s granddaughters). They are two of the most delightful girls that you will ever meet. But they are always so bored when they come as the house just isn’t setup for little girls’ play. So I set out to change that. And in the process do a little upcycling.
A lesson I learned recently is that you have to start with a quality piece of furniture. That doesn’t mean it has to be beautiful or perfect, but it has to have good “bones” or what you do will be for naught. So, found an all wood entertainment center on craigslist.org for free, me and the Kid just had to pick it up. And we realized once we got it home that it came with several unwanted house guests – spiders – when unloading it. Eeek! So first up is doing a good thorough cleaning.
Next up, I took off the back support, and all the doors. I removed the lower support and shelf. I then cut a board (leftover from another project) to divide the space into the “refrigerator”. It’s great to have all the tools – saws and sanders – and the help of the Kid. Put it all back together. With the remainder of the 4′ x 4′ sheet of plywood, I cut the frig door. Then everything got a couple of coats of primer.
The lower section was destined to become the “oven” so I used some black texture spray paint for the inside. Then I cut the hole for the “sink”. I had seen many of the play kitchens use a stainless steel bowl or even pet dish with a lip for the sink, but I couldn’t find one that was the right size. On one of our many trips through the thrift stores, I ran across a wood salad bowl that I thought would work perfectly. All it required was a coat of ‘appliance white’ spray paint.
Here is where I neglected to take as many photos as I should have. 😦
I found little wire shelves and an stainless steel shelf at the local Salvation Army. With some handy work, they became the frig shelves and the oven shelf. I then cut out the center of the oven door, painted it white and black and mounted a piece of plexiglass on the back. Magnetic closures for both the oven and the frig to keep them secure. Frig door got several coats of appliance white paint on the outside and then some fancy painting to create the logo and the “freezer door”. Inside received a couple of coats of light blue paint (makes it appear cold), little baskets on the inside of the door, handles and a piano hinge to connect. A shelf inside separates the refrigerator section from the freezer and I added a couple of ice trays and a little white basket for the freezer “drawer”.
More details included a sheet of plexiglass painted white underneath to keep scratches at a minimum. The knobs are hardware found at the Habitat Store and painted black and glued onto the surface. The burners are CDs spray painted black. A little cup holder mounted on the wall holds adorable red cups. And to round it out a white working clock.
The back of the unit was scrap eighth inch paneling removed from a nearby office building. I rescued several pieces from a dumpster.It was primed and then painted to match the unit. It gives the whole thing a solid feeling without too much weight. The counter was made using a stone look textured paint and then protected with a couple of coats of clear lacquer (for a little protection against nicks and scratches).
I then “installed” the faucets. These is a real working unit that I purchased from Wal*Mart for less than $10. It was by far the easiest solution, although it was the most pricey item in the whole project. 😦 dropped in the sink (which had a little ‘drain’ installed for added realism), attached the top of the stove and glued on all the knobs. I then set actual tiles around the perimeter of the counter for a back splash.
To set the tile, I did use a tile mastic, but didn’t grout. I just used a little more than necessary of the mastic and it squeezed through to fill in the gaps nicely. And since no water will actually be used near the tiles, I didn’t bother to seal it either.
I have to tell you about the tile adventure… it is one such story about how wonderful people can be. If you look closely, you can see that most – the majority – of the tiles are full tiles. I found these at Home Depot in the clearance, just three 12 x 12 sheets left for $1.99 each. I separated the tiles from the sheet and lined them around the perimeter of the countertop. Only three needed to be cut, one on each wall. I do a lot of tile work, but don’t actually own a tile saw (always rent), so I was in a quandary about what to do.
So off to Home Depot with the three tiles marked where they needed to be cut. It was there that I ran into Steve (hi Steve!) who preceded to march me around the store looking for a solution. Two of the tiles were able to be cut with the manual tile cutter on display, but the third one, a smaller cut, was a little trickier. But it was finally handled with a nipper (I think that is what he called it) and some good old fashioned muscle. Sometimes I really appreciate the lengths people will go to help. All the folks at Home Depot that day were very helpful and friendly. (And I didn’t get any sponsorship to say that!)*
I added a “window” above the sink which is just a framed print attached with velcro so that the picture can be changed out easily to match the seasons. A little set of curtains framing the window and a matching curtain to hide the storage area under the sink.
So there you have it. I have been collecting a few odds and ends when I see them to add to the kitchen for play, I found the cutest little ‘copper bottom’ pan, some bake ware and a couple of cooking utensils. I will be making felt food over the next couple of weeks before my grandnieces next visit, so I can surprise them. I will add some photos of them playing with it at that time!
Then will have to figure out a way to get it home with them, as I know that they will fall in love with it!
I quite enjoyed making this and recycling a piece of furniture destined for the dump. I think it turned out pretty good, what do you think?
Happy Crafting Y’All!
*For some reason, some text was lost in the original posting. I just updated to add it. I had to include my shout out to my Home Depot friends! After all, I spend a lot of time there…