DIY project nightstand into play kitchen

The internet is beautiful. Not only can it instantly supply you with the name of that actor in that movie with the thing, but it can also connect you with your creative side in order to reduce waste, upcycle already-existing items, and get your hands dirty with an easy DIY project.

Today I’m delighted to continue this tradition and show you how to upcycle an old nightstand into an adorable compact play kitchen for your son or daughter, perfect for small spaces.

DIY project - nightstand to play kitchen

Nightstand to Play Kitchen DIY Project

This DIY project started with an old nightstand that I found at Value Village for $10. To find the right piece for this project, look for something with at least one drawer, constructed of solid wood and in decent enough shape that a few coats of paint can make it look fantastic again.

If your nightstand has two drawers, remove the bottom one (and consider putting it to work in another DIY drawer project) and get to work converting the top drawer into a door. I used a screwdriver to pry apart the drawer, keeping the front piece and the drawer base.

Re-insert the drawer base to form the bottom of the oven, and attach the drawer front using hinges to create an opening door for your adorably miniature oven. I used silver craft paint to paint the inside of the oven to make it look realistic (aluminum foil could also work!).

Next, head to your local hardware store and rifle through their scrap woodpile until you find a piece of plywood or pine that can be cut down to size to create a backing for the kitchen. Using scrap wood means it will be far cheaper, and you’ll be using waste wood scraps from other people’s cuts. I chose to have the back of the kitchen extend about 14″, tall enough to hold utensils and a window, but short enough that my 3-year-old could still reach everything easily.

DIY project nightstand to play kitchen

I attached the backing piece with screws, and then primed and painted the whole thing with a coat of creamy vintage yellow paint. This is a fantastic way to use up any old paint you have lying around, but it’s also a small enough project that you could buy a small tester pot of paint for $3 to $4.

To create the oven handle, stove knobs, and tap, hit up a Habitat for Humanity ReStore if there’s one near you. These nonprofit stores sell old construction materials and it’s a fantastic place to outfit your play kitchen with everything it needs! (To create the tap for my project, I used a wooden craft letter J upside down, and some decorative knobs I already owned.) If your oven depth allows, you can inset a mixing bowl to create a sink — I lacked the power tools or know-how, so I found a glass bowl and used it to create a vessel sink instead! Improvisation is a wonderful thing.

Equip the Kitchen and Spiff it Up

Now, the fun part! Hit up your local secondhand or charity shop and find tiny pans, casserole dishes, mini muffin tins, and other dishes to furnish the play kitchen. This is far less expensive than buying a child’s kitchen set, and it’s fantastic to make use of items that might be headed to the landfill otherwise.

Next, add any decorative touches you might like. I taped a mountain scene onto the backing to create a window and used old sheets and pillowcases to create a ruffled curtain for the storage space and a pint-sized window valance.

Project Costs

This project was incredibly simple, even for someone with very little experience in the DIY upcycling game, and my daughter absolutely loved seeing it on her birthday. The whole thing came in at under $40:

  • Nightstand: $10
  • Paint: $3
  • Wood: $7
  • Hardware: $7
  • Dishes: $12
    TOTAL: $39

Bonus: I didn’t need to buy anything new! Turns out that DIY upcycling can be beautiful, too.

Images courtesy of Madeleine Somerville 

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.