Thursday, February 20, 2014

DIY Play Kitchen

It's finished!

Well, to be fair, it was finished two months ago. Maybe I was just trying to build some anticipation (wink, wink).

I mentioned just before Christmas that we were building Annie a play kitchen as our gift for her. We followed an awesome, free plan from Ana White. The process of building was quite simple, it was the priming and painting part that seemed to take forever. That, and hanging doors is so not as easy as it looks. It took lots of unscrewing and rescrewing and adjusting to get the fridge and stove doors to open and close effortlessly.

Some of my favorite features are the magnetic doors (a few coats of magnetic primer will do the trick!) and the oven rack. I'm thinking about stopping by the dollar store for a tap light to put inside the oven too, just for more realistic baking! I also love the decision to paint the inside of the oven and fridge white. It breaks up the bright yellow, and somehow makes the fridge feel colder, rather than just looking like another cabinet.

One change from the plans we made was to leave off the backsplash. I loved it on the original plan and thought the idea of that tiny shelf was super cute and functional, but we actually couldn't fit it on with the "sink" we bought. The smallest dog bowl was barely small enough to fit alongside the faucet. We couldn't spare an extra 1.5 inches to attach that back "wall." But no matter! I'm totally in love with our finished product, and it doesn't feel at all like something's missing.

This truly was an easy project... we are by no means "experts" in building furniture. So if you've got a little kiddo who would love to play pretend in his/her own kitchen, I highly recommend giving this a shot. Here's a breakdown of our costs:
             Lumber (as per Ana White plans)       $80 ish       Home Depot
             Faucet                                            $5               Habitat Re-Store
             Knobs                                             $0.35/ea      Habitat Re-Store
             Hardware                                         $30             Lowes
             Wooden discs for burners                  $0.99/ea      Michael's
             Acrylic sheet for oven door                $4               Home Depot
             Stainless dog bowl for sink                $6               Walmart
                                                                    $132 ish

Some materials I had on hand, but would add to the cost of your project would be:
            Silver & black acrylic paints                $0.50/ ea    Michael's
            Paint                                                  $25             Home Depot
            Metalic Paint                                       $12             Michael's

Certainly not cheap, but comparable to big-box, plastic play kitchens. But this one is custom made and you can control the materials you use. Plus, if you had spare lumber lying around you could cut out a significant portion of the cost.

But this kitchen wouldn't be half as precious without all the accessories, so we are very grateful for grandparents who helped stock this little space. The mini pots and pans are from Ikea, the sweet little mixer is by Hape, and the wooden play food, grocery cart, and basket are by Melissa & Doug.

We have all enjoyed this mini play-space. It's so fun to watch Annie "cook" while I'm making dinner, or push her baby around in the shopping cart. I think this little kitchen has a long and bright future in the Worrall household!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Shhh... Don't tell Annie!

...But it seems that mommy and daddy are up to a Christmas secret in the garage!

We just started construction on this play kitchen from Ana White tonight. What you see above only took us about 2.5 hours so far. Unfortunately, I realized I miscalculated how much wood we need, so we'll be back to Home Depot tomorrow to pick that up, and hopefully another hour or so will see this baby fully constructed! Then it'll be time to paint...which is definitely the part I'm least excited about. 

Can't wait to show you the finished product! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

There are lots of little things to catch up on around here... the refrigerator cabinet is nearly done, and the holidays are basically synonymous with crafts. But today is about enjoying family and great food and treasuring the things, big and small, that we recognize to be gifts in our lives.

I love Thanksgiving because it frees me up to just press pause for once. Who cares if the kitchen is in disarray, or the beds never got made this morning? Those pie dishes linger in case a passerby finds need of one last spoonful, just a swipe of whipped cream on the finger, or nibble of stray crust. The pillows that usually sit tidy atop my pin-straight duvet find their way to couches and floors. Bodies curled up under flannel blankets, drowsy with tryptophan, rooting for football teams and watching parades. Bodies that traveled from Boston, New York City, and Virginia Beach, to be in our home this Thanksgiving. Indeed, my floors are crumb-covered and there will be laundry for days... but today is about stopping. And thanking. And loving.

So a very happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones! Surely, there is much to be thankful for on any day. But it's a treasure to spend one day wholly devoted to gratitude. May you find space to put agendas and responsibilities aside, pausing to drink deeply of the blessings that fill your life and home.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Easy, basically free chalkboard!

I was sitting in the dining room one day, looking at the blank walls and wanting for something to help fill them up. We have several unused frames from the old house, but nothing seemed quite right. The wall space is so tall and narrow.

One thing I really miss about our old place was my big, fancy chalkboard in a repurposed antique frame. I would write our weekly meal plan on it, or decorate for special occasions. It's too big and square to fit in our new house's kitchen or dining room, so for now it's been living in the mini-kitchen in the basement.

I wanted to bring a new chalkboard upstairs, but as time passed and I had no time to get to the thrift store to find the perfect old picture to cover. After seeing a Reader Redesign post on YHL, I had another idea. I already had the can of chalkboard paint... And our pile of scrap wood is growing rapidly with all our construction projects. So I cut up some cheap 'ol 1x2s and stained them with a quick swipe of stain leftover from our kitchen cabinets gone wrong (before they became beautiful and white).

I eyeballed a rectangle with some frog tape and got to painting right on the wall. It took two coats and about 10 minutes total. Then once the stain was dry and the boards were sealed with poly, I just used a handful of finishing nails to attach them right to the wall. 

Now that plain wall is the perfectly rustic chalkboard I was hoping for. I can't wait to dress it up for the holidays!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I pulled the trigger...

...and went gunmetal. Gunmetal gray, that is.

Yep, a quick trip to the paint store and just an hour with a brush in hand, and the kitchen has transformed!

Let's remind ourselves of the original color, Stonington Gray, by Benjamin Moore. It's the color throughout the rest of our main living space, so I wanted the kitchen to feel cohesive with the other rooms. But the light color was such a contrast to the dark tile, and it felt like the tile was just this thick stripe running through the kitchen's equator.

I wanted a new color that made the tile feel like it belonged-- where it could blend in a little more, and be less of a visual distraction. The gunmetal gray is exactly the same color as the tiles, just a shade or two lighter. We went with a matte finish, so the shiny tiles are able to contrast in their own way without being too showy.

I cannot overstate how pleased I am with the change. It's amazing how the smallest and simplest tweaks have the most dramatic impact. Now if only I could say the same for the refrigerator surround... I realized today I caulked all the seams with non-paintable caulk (AHHH!), so the primer isn't adhering to anything with caulk on it. I'm going to try and scrape it away. But more than likely, I'll end up having to disassemble the whole thing and rebuild it with new wood and different caulk. Womp womp.

But in home renovation life, you take the good with the bad in stride. I'm super thankful for all the things I'm learning, even by making mistakes. And I'm overwhelmed at how fortunate we are for the things we have. So if non-paintable caulk is the worst part of my day, I'd say I've got a pretty good thing going. Wouldn't you?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You know it makes me wanna GROUT!

Pick my trowel up and GROUT!
Finish those tiles up and GROUT!

You're welcome for that.

But seriously, I finally got around to grouting those kitchen tiles. Like, two weeks ago. Sorry I didn't run to the interwebs to tell you. But it is very exciting! The process was nothing short of terrible (SO messy), but the work was worth it.

I totally fell in love all over again with our subway tiles after I filled in all those pesky cracks. The clean, white grout really defines the blue-gray tiles and lightens everything back up. And the brightness of the grout now confirms my desire to paint the walls the same dark color as the tile. BENJAMIN MOORE, I'm coming to you!

In other kitchen news, we've also (finally) begun construction on the cabinet surround for the refrigerator. I read lots of tutorials (like this one and this one), but in the end, we basically had to just wing it. 

We were unable to remove the old cabinet from the's seriously stuck up there. I don't think we could remove it without totally destroying the one next to it. But a thin piece of ply covered the old door holes right up and now it's the perfect depth for a cookbook shelf. 

We loved the wine rack idea from the second tutorial so we picked up some lumber at Home Depot yesterday and I whipped it up in less than an hour. Though, let's be honest, we never have wine just lying around. On the semi-annual occasion that I buy a bottle for dinner, we open it immediately, drink 1/3 of it, cork it up, and end up throwing the remainder away a month later. Somewhere in the greater Boston area, my vino-loving parents are dying a little inside. But I'm hoping their Thanksgiving visit might mean this little wine rack has a fighting chance of actually doing its job one day. Plus I think it'll be something any future potential buyers would enjoy.

Anyway--there's obviously lots that still needs to be done. Moulding. Caulk. Primer. Paint. But I have my hopes set on finishing the surround before Thanksgiving, so I'm back into project mode. And we would loove to replace the fridge with a counter-depth, energy-star compliant one in the future. But for now, we'll just keep our fingers crossed that a custom built-in can make our current one look a little less blah.

And just to bring you up to speed, here's what's left before we can call this kitchen renovation complete:

  • Paint cabinets
  • Replace hardware
  • Replace countertops and sink
  • Install new appliances
  • Tile and grout backsplash
  • Install can lighting
  • Patch holes in ceiling from old fixture
  • Build in refrigerator surround
  • Install crown moulding
  • Repaint walls dark gray
  • Do something with the exposed light above the sink (?)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our new dining room

This year will be the first time that Bryan, Annie, and I get to host a holiday! Both sides of our family are coming into town for 4 days of feasting and merriment at Thanksgiving. We feel so lucky to have a home big enough to hold everyone, but one thing we were severely lacking...dining space.

When we bought our house, it technically had three living room-type spaces. A den and formal living room on the main level, and a great big comfy family room downstairs. But we had so little furniture that, while we did lots of living in the den (and eventually bought a sectional for the basement family room, the "formal living room" sat vacant. Like... totally empty. Meanwhile, the adjoined dining room was a small 10'x11' that could barely contain our 4-person table.

So we decided to do a little shuffling and get rid of the formal living room. It would become the new (much bigger) dining space, and the family desk and a couple sitting chairs turned the old dining room into a small office of sorts. The furniture moving part was quite simple--we just also needed to have an electrician come wire some overhead lighting in the new dining room.

I hemmed and hawed over finding the perfect chandelier to fill up the vertical space in the new dining room. There seemed to be hundreds of possibilities, but only one I kept coming back to. The Armonk Chandelier by Pottery Barn. The trouble was, it was $400. So I waited and kept looking, until one day, the lighting gods smiled upon me and Armonk was discounted 25%. Still not the cheapest thing ever, but I went for it knowing I'd be getting exactly what I had envisioned for the space.

Here is Mr. Armonk the night we got him, hanging over the small table that barely fit into the "old dining room." It was almost 9pm by the time it was installed, so you'll have to forgive the photo that looks like it was taken by an iPhone in the dark... because it was.

But obviously, moving our old table into a bigger room wasn't going to provide the eating space we wanted for large groups (and hosting 2 families for Thanksgiving was what sparked this whole switcheroo in the first place). Though I loved the look of a great big farm table, an average $1,000+ retail price was an absolute "no." When I stumbled across the plans for the Farmhouse Table on Ana White, I brought the idea up to Bryan. What did we have to lose? 

We vowed to spend less than $200 on materials, and decided that if the table somehow turned out hideously, we could put it on the back deck as a picnic table and then reevaluate our dining room options. Luckily for us... 6 hours of labor and $120 in materials later, we were standing in front of this beautiful piece of furniture, amazed that somehow WE MADE THIS?!?!

The table came inside last weekend, and we have already enjoyed many meals in our new dining room. I l-o-v-e how massive it is-- the way the big table, big chairs, and the big chandelier look like they were made for each other. And the best part? With a few extra chairs, everyone will have a seat at the table this Thanksgiving!

The room still has a long way to go. I hung some (empty) frames on the back wall to help, but we're hoping to build a hutch for another empty wall, and perhaps find a large jute rug to tie everything together. But those are goals for a different day. For now, we're content to do our happy dance around the beautiful table we made (Did I mention we're crazy proud of this thing?).