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ava's (my) DIY dream kitchen

Getting a play kitchen is like a right of passage for a little girl. My mom has albums full of photos of me playing in my little yellow plastic Fisher Price kitchen as a toddler, and fondly recalls the hours I spent playing pretend - trying to be just like 'mama'.

After taking Ava to Pretend City in Irvine -- a miniature city with a mini fire station, post office, library, Trader Joe's (cutest ever), and of course a miniature house with a kitchen, I realized how much she LOVED playing pretend! I knew she was ready for a little kitchen of her own.

I wanted to get one that looked like a grown-up kitchen and matched our living room decor (where it would live for the foreseeable future), without totally breaking the bank. I love the Pottery Barn Kids kitchens, but they were a little (a lot) too pricy for me -- but they are totally drool-inducing so I'm linking them here.

Luckily I found a some amazing DIY kitchen hacks on Pinterest - and fell in love with one from Lovely Indeed. You can see the original post here!

I put my own spin on this, but the overall idea is the same. And it all starts with the cutest play kitchen I ever did see (pictured below, pre-DIY):

This kitchen is a great Amazon knock-off of the previously mentioned Pottery Barn one -- complete with gold hardware and a farmhouse sink. BONUS -- it also comes with a working ice maker which Ava LOVES. She goes back again and again to put the 'ice' in her cup. And the best news? It is a fraction of the cost -- $165 for the knock-off vs. $500 for the PB original!!

Once you have the kitchen, you just need the following supplies:

  • Particle board (we cut ours to the width of the oven/sink unit and the height of the fridge + about 4 inches)

  • Faux subway tiles (from Amazon - one pack of 5 tiles was all I needed)

  • Spray adhesive (also from Amazon)

  • 1, 3x6 wood plank; two sections cut to the width of your particle board for shelves

  • White paint (sample jar size)

  • Paint to match your kitchen (sample jar size)

  • 4 corner brackets

  • Gold spray paint - I like the Rust-Oleum brand

  • Wood screws

  • Black magnetic sheet (from Amazon)

  • Anti-tip safety straps (from Amazon)


  1. Cut your particle board and wood plank to size. They will do this for you at Home Depot or Lowes if you ask - just make sure to have your dimensions ready!

  2. Paint all sides of your particle board white. Sand and paint your shelves the color of your play kitchen. NOTE: I brought in an extra piece of the grey wood from the kitchen, and had the Lowes staff match the color in the paint department. They can just scan it in and generate the color -- no need to compare paint swatches!

  3. Spray paint your corner brackets and screws that come with them

  4. Once your paint is dry, you can affix your tiles to the particle board. The tiles adhere best to smooth surfaces, but since the particle board is slightly porous, I first applied a layer of the spray adhesive - then immediately laid each sheet of tile. NOTE: If you reapply spray adhesive after each tile sheet (like I did), I recommend covering the other tiles with something to protect them before spraying. I didn't do this, and ended up having to go back with nail polish remover, to remove the sticky spray from my tiles - it was a total pain.

Put it All Together!

  1. Now you're ready to assemble your kitchen! Use your wood screws to screw the tiled particle board to the back of the oven/sink portion of your kitchen. We used 5 screws - three at the bottom and two on the upper sides.

  2. Affix your corner brackets on to your painted shelves, and screw into the particle board at your desired height. We followed the original post, and put the first shelf at the same height as the fridge, so it looks like one seamless unit.

  3. I didn't love how top-heavy the whole thing seemed, so we screwed the fridge and oven portion together, and then used the safety straps on the particle board to attach the whole unit to the wall.

  4. Lastly, I cut the magnetic sheet to size, and covered the little 'notepad' section that comes with the fridge. This is optional, but I liked the idea of making it look like a little chalkboard, with the option to add magnets, like on a real fridge!

NOTE: The recommended age for this kitchen and many of the accessories is 4 and up, so play at your own risk if you have little ones!

And that's it! All that's left is to accessorize your kitchen! I spent a considerable amount of time scouring the internet and reading reviews to find the perfect items for Ava's kitchen. Here's what we used!

This was such a fun project for me - and even though I definitely appreciate the overall design aesthetic of the kitchen more than Ava will (at least for a LONG time), it is hands-down the favorite of the toys she owns. It warms my heart to watch her 'stir and taste' her imaginary food on the stove - just like mama does in the real kitchen! Things really do come full circle, don't they?


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