Painting Aiden’s Play Kitchen

This past chanukah, Aiden got the very generous gift of a play kitchen from Tuvia’s parents.

It’s one that he had played with and loved at other people’s houses, it got fantastic reviews, and it fit into the space in our “random room”. (I love parts of it, but the random room gets to me sooo much, which is probably why I haven’t posted pictures of it yet, but I need to embrace wabi-sabi!)

I love the idea of Aiden “cooking” while we cook and he seems to agree. Sometimes I get assigned to the “mommy kitchen” while he cooks in the “Aiden kitchen”. (I don’t know where Tuvia’s kitchen is, but Aiden has dubbed the vacuum to be his so maybe we’re even?)

Part of me really wanted to make our own play kitchen, especially with all the great tutorials out there, but we didn’t feel up to the challenge at the time (though I think if we waited until now, we would probably take it on ourselves).

It was a fantastic gift. He loves it and plays with it all the time. It’s especially cool to see how his play has developed and matured with how he plays with it. If you ask him, I’m pretty sure he’ll tell you that he prepares dinner for us on a regular basis.

his cutting board, towel, and aprons because he is a super professional chef

the aiden-size colander we got on sale (I think it’s for veggies)

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I totally care about its looks and I do not like the bad seventies decor vibe I get from this kitchen. I could never tell if it was better or worse with the sticker “tiles” and “backsplash”.

After looking online for inspiration, I realized that what I really liked was wooden and/or blue.

Clara’s kitchen from (where else?) Young House Love. Do they ever get tired of being geniuses? I know I do (bwahahahah)

I can’t turn plastic into wood (though Aiden recently told his daycare teacher that I cut the trees…it sounds like cut the cheese…but he doesn’t know that phrase…..not sure what he’s referring to there), but I can turn ugly brown-ish plastic into blue plastic!

After researching what you need to do to paint plastic, I learned two things: 1- prep is IMPORTANT and 2- it still miiiiight not work

On that reassuring note, it was off to Home Depot. (Aiden thinks we live there, at Barnes and Noble, and Starbucks. Literally, we picked him up from daycare one day and he said “Where we going next? Home Depot?”)

We got sandpaper to rough up the smooth texture so the paint would stick better, Zinsser primer for the same purpose and to make it last, and aqua Rustoleum spray paint, which is supposed to hold up in any weather and stick to plastic so I’m hoping it can withstand the Aiden tornado. I’m pretty sure the Home Depot associate I hounded politely asked a lot of questions thought I was insane because I kept repeating myself “are you sure that will stick to plastic? this sandpaper is fine?”.

And so we began…as in so I began only to have Tuvia finish a lot of bits because my Braxton Hicks were not leaving me alone.


We got 220 grit and scratched that kitchen up!


We used frog tape to seal the edges because 1- we weren’t sure if we wanted to paint the “countertop” blue also and 2- the details were too much for me to think about getting it perfect and as I have yet to embrace all mistakes, it would bother me too much if it wasn’t perfect (or at least near perfect)

This is my taping…let’s just say that I’ve been more successful at other things

Once we taped off the edges, we used a plastic tablecloth to cover the larger areas.

Getting off Sticker Residue

This was harder than I thought. We pulled off most of it, used goo-gone, and scraaaatched a lot. And then sanded again.


Once we had sanded, taped, scraped, and cleaned the surface, it was time to paint. We brought the kitchen to our porch and laid it on it’s back (so we could get all the little nooks and random crevices) for the first layer of primer. This brings us to mistake #1.

Mistakes to avoid #1: Don’t paint at night, you idiot!

We don’t have lighting on the porch so it was inevitable that we would miss spots and it wouldn’t be as even as it should be. How did I not think of this? Sometimes I get it in my head that I need to do something now, which is only made worse by my need for nesting. Add that to the fact that there was noooo way we were going to do this while Aiden was awake and I decided it had to be done that night.

We started with Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer

30 minutes later, Tuvia turned it around and primed the other side. For the record we were both wearing a mask and didn’t stay outside for long amounts of time.

Then Tuv turned it over again and I painted the front and an hour later painted the back. So here comes the next few mistakes:

Mistakes to avoid #2: painting a surface and then smudging it right away!

I painted the outside of the oven and then I opened it and painted the inside and left it slightly ajar so it could all dry…blech. It left weird marks and in the case of the fridge, it pulled off a whole section of paint (which we are all going to willfully ignore, right? RIGHT?)

Mistakes to avoid #3: forgetting to paint the parts you so painstakingly lined with frog tape

Mistakes to avoid #4: PAINTING AT NIGHT! You can see how uneven the layers are in the pictures below of the back. The front isn’t that uneven so we’re just gonna let that go.

We pulled off the tape right away and let it dry overnight. The next day, Aiden went in search for his kitchen, which was drying on the porch:

(It behooves me to point out the pile of tape and plastic that I left on the floor the night before as well as the mashup of randomness behind the kitchen.)

Aiden got to work right away when he saw that the kitchen had no accessories: “I be right back, you wait here” and this was the finished product (a.k.a. when he moved on to playing with puzzles)

This is my favorite picture of the kitchen because it was after Aiden insisted on taking off his pants and putting on underwear over his diaper (I promise, he does NOT want to be potty-trained yet)

We let it dry another day and then brought it in to the random room where I still cannot get a good picture of it! Is it because the light is behind it? My angle? Either way I promise it looks better in real life and the unevenness isn’t nearly as noticeable.

I want to paint the baskets white (or green? or make Aiden super happy and paint them red?) and we’re still not sure if we want to leave the black or not, but based on energy-levels I’m gonna say it’s staying black. The other thing I want to do is paint our own version of a backsplash and tiles (And that random little square on the left above the sink is getting a little chalkboard paint I think).

Have you done any toy makeovers? Painted plastic successfully? I know a lot of people repaint the Step2 cars with nice results. I’d love to hear from you!

13 thoughts on “Painting Aiden’s Play Kitchen

  1. THis is an awesome idea! I have been wanting to make one for my son too (like the wooden ones), but have no time. I might hunt one of these down at goodwill and give it a go. How many cans of spray paint did you use?

  2. This is SO CUTE!! My daughter always wanted a kitchen like this and we weren’t fans of how it looked… especially my husband. We got her a wooden one like you shared and (in her eyes) it just wasn’t the same. I’m sure some day (far off… ha!) I’ll be getting one of these for my granddaughter and painting it. Such a great solution and I love how much your little guy digs it!

  3. Pingback: We Have a Name! | Shoes Off, Please

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