Henry's "Working" Play Kitchen

Henry's "Working" Play Kitchen

Carrie McBride
Apr 28, 2009

If we didn't already assume you were sitting down at a computer, we'd advise you to sit because you'll be bowled over by Henry's amazing play kitchen. His dad, Everett, did the hard labor (including LED lights to make the stove "work"!) and his mom, Jennifer, did was she calls the "easy/frivolous" work but what we might call the "charming decorative touches."

Jennifer is on a creative streak (remember her fabulous fabric landscape background for her son's train set?) and she recruited her husband for three weeks of evenings and two weekends to complete this small-scale realistic kitchen for their son Henry.

Curious about their materials?

  • MDF cabinets and backsplash
  • Melamine shelving
  • Cutting board made from scrap wood
  • Silver spray-painted wooden dowels for the oven rack.
  • 1/4" Plexiglass for the fridge shelves
  • Decoupaged fabric backsplash
  • LED lights for the "working" burners and oven (see the in-depth description below)

We love the homey, retro feel of the kitchen with all its cute details like the tomato embroidery and felt food Jennifer made and the sweet, vintage tins to hold Henry's cooking implements.

The entire kitchen is wonderful, but wiring it to light up when the knobs are turned put it over the edge! For this, all the credit must go to Everett. We asked him to explain his process:

Most of the components were from Radio Shack with the exception of the red LEDs, which were cut out of a cheap set of LED Christmas lights. Basically, the electronics (wiring, resistors, etc) are hidden in the little space directly behind the oven knobs and under the stove-top, and the batteries are in a hidden compartment in the back of the base cabinet (only accessible from the back of the kitchen). I wanted to make it as safe as possible, so Henry can't possibly touch any of the wiring or LEDs, and I chose LEDs instead of regular Christmas lights because they don't put out any heat. So basically, if you turn a burner knob, it turns on five red LEDs at the appropriate burner. If you turn the oven knob, it turns on two rows of five LEDs in the bottom of the oven. The toggle switch next to the oven knob turns on four bright white LEDs in the top of the oven. All LEDs are hidden behind clear Plexiglass for safety and protection. We still sort-of pretend that the burners are hot, and remind him to turn them off when he isn't using them, just to train him for the real thing!

You can see larger photos on Flickr. Thanks for sharing this with us Jennifer and Everett - we can't wait to see what you (and Henry) cook up next!

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