Hacking a Tiny Play Kitchen

If you are parents then you probably know all about what an awesome deal the Ikea Duktig Play Kitchen is. It's small, cute, relatively easy to assemble, and super easy to hack. And that's exactly what we did for Adeline's Winter Solstice gift this year. I checked out a bunch of Pinterest ideas, talked design with Keith, bought supplies, and we started working on it about two weeks out. First tip: this is a little labor intensive.


We decided to paint the kitchen the same gray as Adeline's bedroom accent wall (Benjamin Moore's Platinum Gray), leave the oven door white, and paint the microwave the coral color from her accent wall (Benjamin Moore's Tangerine Dream). I want this kitchen to grow with her, so we decided that putting a little time into really giving it an unique look was worth it in the long run. I covered the counters in a Marble Adhesive Contact Paper that I found on Amazon and painted all the door knobs, sink, faucet and outside of the stove top with Rustoleum's Metallic Hammered Spray Paint (in copper, though now I'm kind of wishing I had done copper rose).


I did not think to take a ton of step-by-step photos so I'll talk you through the few that I have and share some more tips along the way. The very first thing that I did was pull the entire thing apart and figure out which pieces needed to be painted and what weren't going to be seen. I covered the counter-top with the adhesive faux marble contact paper and made sure to leave the holes on the bottom side of it uncovered. I don't have any photos of this process, because it was definitely the most challenging and 100% a "fly by the seat of my pants" application. I didn't want to risk cutting the holes for the top of the counter-top (for the faucet) and make them too big, so that I actually left for after the counter-top was adhered. It is very much like wrapping a gift. I'd recommend adding some clear packaging tape to the (not seen) bottom of the counter to insure it's adhered, and you may also need some clear tape on the edges to keep them in place. You can't see them unless you look really close on mine, but the tape is totally there.
Tip: A second pair of hands and credit card for smoothing out bubbles would definitely come in handy for this part.


The next step before you start painting is priming. Zinsser is not only my favorite primer on the market, but if you do a google search for what to prime Ikea furniture specifically with, this is the primer everyone will tell you to use. They do have a Zero VOC option, which I have never tried, but that may definitely be worth checking out if you're concerned about paint fumes. We applied their low VOC oil primer with a paint brush outside, since it is still a little more fumy than the Benjamin Moore paint we used. It only needed one coat of primer and took to the piece great. Here was actually where I made my first mistake. For some reason, I didn't prime the door knobs, sink, and faucet. Don't be me. Prime every single thing.

We gave the primer 48 hours to fully set, then started painting. The painting is pretty straight forward. We used a paintbrush (rather than a roller) and it took two coats to fully adhere. We actually primed the oven door to de-gloss the piece and left it like that. We did one coat, lightly sanded it, and then applied a second coat. I love the low gloss look, and knowing that if it needs touching up in the future, it's an easy fix.  I used green Frog Tape on the stove, oven and microwave doors while painting and then made sure to remove before paint had fully dried to prevent sticking. I spray painted the door knobs, utensil hooks, sink, faucet and outside of the stove top with the copper paint. This is actually my biggest regret with the piece, because I had to spray-paint outside due to the fumes, it was a bit too cold to be painting, and the spray-paint did not adhere well. It ran down (especially the faucet and sink), formed globs and looked terrible. We had to sand everything and re-spray twice, but if I could re-do that one thing, I would have primed them all first and waited for a nicer day to paint.

The last two things we did were drill three holes above the oven for stove "dials" and drill new holes for the one cabinet handle to be on the side instead of at the top. I wanted to break up the matching door pull look, and it was pretty simple to just drill new holes and then putty in the original ones on top. The stove top dials were a Black Friday sale and are now sold out, but Anthropologie has lots of other great options. Then we started assembly. That is pretty straight forward and you just need to follow the instructions. The only extra step is based on the marble contact paper if you also didn't put holes for the faucet before adhering it, like me. I just used a flat head screwdriver to poke holes from the bottom of the counter through the top (for the faucet). It made for a tight fit and worked perfectly. Lastly, I glued the sink in place with a thin line of Gorilla Glue.


We are really happy with the finished look and Adeline absolutely loves her kitchen! In the next month or so, I plan to add a sheet of thin plywood to the open back with adhesive faux subway tile contact paper, a hook on the side for her play apron, and eventually hack the oven door to open like an actual oven with shelves that slide out. I am really happy with the 90% final design though, and I'm definitely enjoying having "freshly baked cookies" at our tea parties every day.

Revision: If you are interested in hacking this play kitchen for your kids, I came up with three different design ideas along with price estimates for each. This a really easy piece to make your own, so have fun with it!

My first design idea was for a "modern", simpler play kitchen. For this one, I thought you could actually leave the body of it pretty much as is, but swap out the handles for something a little more streamlined and less chunky, spray-paint the oven and microwave door a metallic blue or light pink (depending on your room's color scheme), and add a thin plywood sheet to the back opening painted with any variation of chalkboard paints you can find at Home Depot. You would need a power screwdriver with drill bits to add new holes, plus putty to fill in the old holes, for the new drawer pulls.

Modern Kitchen.jpg

Sources: 1. Ikea Play Kitchen. 2. Rust-oleum Pearl Metallic Spray Paint. 3. Satin Nickel Drawer Pull. 4. Rust-oleum Chalkboard Paint (Matte Charcoal). 5. Ikea Duktig Utensil Set. 6. Melissa & Doug Fridge Play Food. 7. Avril Loreti Modern Home Tea Towel.

This next design might just be my favorite, but I'm a total sucker for copper (plus how gorgeous are those drawer pulls?!?). If you have a very soft color palette, this may be a good choice for you. This one could easily sway less feminine by swapping out the tea towel for something in yellow or crimson. This one is a bit more labor intensive than the first one. I was envisioning this having the bottom portion painted a light gray, the top a creamy white, swapping out the cabinet pull for that copper and pearl knob, the oven and microwave pulls for a glass/copper pull, covering the counter-top with a light marble contact paper, and spray-painting the faucet and sink that metallic copper color to tie in with the new pulls. I thought that plush tea set from Land of Nod would be a fun, sweet addition.

Copper Play Kitchen.jpg

Sources: 1. Ikea Play Kitchen. 2. Rust-oleum Metallic Spray Paint (Copper Enamel). 3. Mother of Pearl Knob. 4. Rock Candy Handle. 5. Low VOC Paint & Primer in One (Behr French Gray). 6. Marble Contact Paper. 7. Party Guests Tea Set. 8. Yao Cheng Floral Tea Towel.

My final play kitchen was entirely designed around a Tile Self Adhesive Paper I spotted on Home Depot's site. How cute would this be in a more southwestern inspired home (or a western-themed nursery/play room)?!? This one is a little more labor intensive than the first two, as it does involve adding a piece of plywood and back-splash as well as painting. This one I was envisioning painting the majority that tan color (#6) so it ties in more with the back-splash, then painting the counter-top a deep gray color (almost like a concrete counter). I would probably leave the oven and microwave white (or maybe spray-paint them to match the sink, faucet and drawer pulls). I thought it would probably really sweet to swap out the cabinet pull for that leather one, and fill the top open cabinets and hooks with those wooden mugs and utensils I found on Etsy. Lastly, add a thin sheet of plywood and adhere the contact paper as a back-splash that inspired this all. 

Southwest Play.jpg