How you can hack a TV console and make a play kitchen

October 20 | Guest post by Lea Grover

Remember that awesome DIY kitchen makeover a few weeks ago? Here's another kid's kitchen — this one was made from a TV console. Win.

It's a toy kitchen!

Back in the very recent past, TVs were big bulky things that played cassettes (also very bulky) via large awkward contraptions. This whole set-up took up a lot of space, and consoles like these were pretty ubiquitous. Chances are, you know someone with one that's not being used — or you could cruise a thrift store and find plenty. In fact, I scored this one for $18 at a local shop.

Once you have your outdated behemoth of outdated furniture, you're ready to begin! First things first — take measurements! This is very important, and one of the reasons I ended up going over my budget. You'll want to measure BEFORE you take your TV console apart — if yours is anything like mine, it'll have all sorts of finicky bits that make it look nice, and you'll want to measure every single thing. Since this project is very flexible, you really have a lot of options — people add fridges, ovens, microwaves, etc.

$18 at the Brown Elephant

After measuring, it's time to take it all apart. This is the easy part! It's so satisfying… one minute, it's a TV console. The next minute, it's a bunch of pieces of wood that don't really correspond to a recognizable object. Note: save all of your hardware.

The next thing you'll want to do is to sand everything. Sanding pretty much sucks: it's monotonous, tiresome, and feels like it's never going to end. Once you're finished sanding you want to make sure you've got all your pieces. For me, that meant a new piece for the refrigerator door, an oven door, a piece of wood to form my new cabinet, a piece to hide the sink bowl, the wood for the back of the unit, extra shelves, and all the miscellaneous odds and ends that the kitchen will require.

Sand everything!

Now you get to paint! I had an extra bucket of paint lying around from when we moved in that I picked up at the pre-mixed and abandoned bucket at Home Depot — there are usually a few there. I spray-painted the future knobs, put five coats of magnetic primer on the fridge door, and painted the unit, shelves, and everything else. I used aluminum paint for the rack (but you can also just use good acrylic from an art supply store) and black spray paint for the knobs.

Starting to look like *not* a TV console.
That hole was a pain in the butt.
ALMOST DONE!

The final stage is the modifications stage — this means cutting holes and attaching new elements. This was the hardest part for me. I cut the hole for the sink by hand with a keyhole saw — I recommend using an electric saw if you have one. If not, using the keyhole doesn't take too long — it just didn't feel too great when I was finished. I used caulk to attach the sink bowl to the wood, and started adding all of the tiny detailed parts.

And then… it was a toy kitchen! I used a photograph of my favorite place on Earth, Guppy Lake, where my parents live. I also told various relatives (grand-parents, aunts, etc.) that the girls wanted toy food for their birthday, so now they're totally stocked up.

Grandma made the apron.  🙂

There are a few things still missing — I'm going to add cup hooks to the bottom of their shelf, so the shelf can act as a pot rack. I'm also going to install shelves in the cabinets.

I was definitely inspired by toy kitchens I've seen online — here are a few of my biggest sources of awesome kitchenness: From DiggersList Blog and From Sutton Grace.

Hooray kitchen!

  1. This is the very COOLEST project! I don't have anyone in my life right now who needs a play kitchen, but you can bet that, the minute I do, I'm goin to work on making one of these!

    1 agrees
  2. This is an amazing project and so much nicer than any kitchen you can buy in a store. We will definitely be making one of these next year!

  3. This is awesome! We made one for my son for his 2nd birthday this past July and it was such a fun project! We don't have near enough room for one that big so we used an old bedside table with two drawers. The top one turned into the oven the bottom one stayed as a drawer for storing pots and things. We added three 'burners' to the top and a sink and old bathroom faucet. He absolutely LOVES it and it looks so cute in our place. I think I probably love it as much as he does. Plus it's at least 90% reused and cost us less then $50!

    • That is exactly what my friend did for her son! I thought you were her until I remembered she made it for Christmas.

  4. We did this one a much smaller scale for my daughter and she loves her kitchen 🙂 With not enough room in the house for something like an old entertainment center I repurposed a half shelf into a kitchen! it was tons of fun and Aiden loves it

  5. This is great, toy kitchens are the best. Our old Tv cabinet I thought about making into a puppet theatre, but it was way too flimsy.

  6. That is fantastic! Hoping to tackle one of these for my girls for Christmas. Would you mind telling me how wide the tv opening is and how many inches up from the floor that tv shelf is on. Worried that the entertainment center I have might be smaller and lower than most.

    Thanks!

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