For as long as I can remember, I’ve walked past our tiny hall closet dreaming of how this space could serve us in this season of life. A space for play and imagination to soar. While this space had served us well in seasons past as a mudroom, reading closet, and storage, I knew we could take it up a notch with the hope of designing a play kitchen that became an extension of our home.
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A Journey of Finding Me
Each project in my home has become the stepping stones to finding me. A building block, if you will, to construct the best version of myself. It’s during these projects that I learn to step out of my comfort zone a little more and dig deep into what brings me joy. Often, during these projects, I’m gifted little bits of quiet to be still with my thoughts as I paint a wall or curate a shelf full of collected goods. It’s in those moments that I dream of the future, speak words of encouragement to myself, and be still with the blessings of my current life.
Charley’s play kitchen was no different. I set a timeline to start and finish this project, and it feels good knowing I paced myself at a healthy rate and completed every task on my own. I even learned a thing or two.
For so long, I’ve watched women all over Instagram tackle home projects with ease. I’ve always admired them from afar, wishing and hoping that one day I too could dream up a design and complete it myself.
Nick is very hands on and skilled at labor. He has always helped with our projects. Sometimes, I let projects sit for years on end waiting for him to be available to complete them. But Charley’s play kitchen has become the launching pad to shift my limiting belief and teach myself new skills to transform our house into our own little oasis. One power tool at a time.
Charley’s Play Kitchen – An Extension of Our Home
Some may have wondered why I put so much time and effort into a toddler’s play room. The truth is, I want every nook and cranny to feel like an extension of our home. Our house is a 1980’s fixer upper, and some projects were quick bandaids to stay within budget while transforming a run-down space into a livable one. But moving forward, I’m on a mission to design each space with intention.
It is my hope that our home can become a safe place for others to come in and unwind, and Charley’s play kitchen has become an extension of that desire. No single person is too old or too young to be included in that hope, even if they’re a toddler playing make belief and cooking wooden carrots for their baby doll.
Creating Warmth – Paint
A dream of mine has always been to design a warm and welcoming home. A cozy space that says, “Come as you are,” and I have to admit, the power of paint has made that dream come true.
When we purchased our home in 2016, white was the new taupe, and I choose the brightest white possible for our walls. But as I have refined my design aesthetic, I’ve realized I chose a white with a blue undertone – which makes our home feel cold.
During our living room renovation, I fell in love with Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore, and have been repainting each room little by little.
For Charley’s play kitchen, I knew I wanted to repaint the ceiling Swiss Coffee and was encouraged to add a little color to the paneling. After painting our bathroom Accessible Beige, I knew that’d be the perfect tone to bring warmth to the space.
The Foundation – Play Kitchen Area Rug
I’ve had my eyes on the Amber Lewis Loloi Collection ever since the collection launched. One of the perks to this collection is that it is sold on Amazon. I’m a visual person and always need to see the items I’m choosing in the physical space. With Amazon offering free easy returns, I chose two color palettes to view in the space before making a final decision.
I selected the Billie rug in Ink/Salmon and Tobacco/Rust. While I loved them both, Ink/Salmon was the ultimate winner. I love how this rug grounds the space, all while bringing a sense of warmth.
The warm tones allowed me to play off the colors in the artwork to complete a cohesive look.
A Mom’s Dream Play Kitchen
Shannon and I laugh at the thought that Charley has a better kitchen than I do. Our kitchen is currently still in its 1980’s state with orange tinted cabinets, worn counter tops and missing doors. But that is a project worth waiting for.
Luckily, over the last few years, product designers have learned to create atheistically-pleasing toys for children. Kids today are able to enjoy a designer looking play kitchen that inspires their mom to redesign their own spaces. Or better yet, live through their child’s dream kitchen while waiting for their own.
Play Kitchen Custom Features – Shaker Peg Shelf
As I began putting together Charley’s play kitchen design board, I knew I wanted to include some sort of shelving to be hung at her height for appliances and artwork. I loved the idea of using a shaker peg shelf to serve multiple purposes: use of a shelf and hooks to hang a towel and measuring cups.
Through my search, I became inspired to build something unique and custom for the space. But since this would be my first time using power tools, I gave myself a little wiggle room by purchasing an unfinished shelf and peg rack with the intention of combining the two and completing the set with a warm stain.
Illuminating Accents – The Lighting
Charley’s play room is actually a small storage closet under our stairs that has served many purposes throughout the years. Many years ago, I found multiple light fixtures on clearance at Target and purchased them on whim. Much like other pieces in our home and a habit I set out to break (thank goodness!) a couple years ago.
A few years back, when the play room was a set up as a mudroom, Nick wired one of the light fixtures to give it some character. I originally planned on replacing the lighting while designing Charley’s play kitchen but I’m glad I waited. Who knew a little paint could completely transform a light fixture?
A Place Set for Connection – Kid’s Table and Chair Set
Our mission here at The Busy Bee is centered around the table. As children, our grandmother’s were intentional about gathering at the table to strengthen our relationships by connecting with one another. And now that we’re mothers, it is our hope to continue that tradition by encouraging our family and friends to get back to the table, and I believe that can begin at a young age.
Charley’s table and chair set was a lucky find. I searched high and low for a modern, vintage-inspired set to encourage her friends, siblings and cousins to play and use their imaginations – together. Unfortunately, this set was sold out, and I had my heart set on it. So each day, I checked to see if it was available again, and to my surprise, one day it was! And it was on sale because it was an opened box. One thing I’ve learned is that nothing truly stays in perfect condition, hello, toddlers! So, I jumped and purchased the opened box immediately. Luckily, it was in perfect condition and everything I hoped for.
Completing the Look – The Decor
As you’re designing a space in your home, try not to skip over this final step. It’s the details, the decor, that has the power to bring everything together to create a complete look.
The elements used to complete Charley’s play kitchen include wooden toys, real kitchen tools, and vintage-inspired art to soften the space.
- Vintage-Inspired Landscape Artwork
- Vintage-Inspired Floral Artwork
- Charcoal Ceramic Vase
- Children’s Wooden Mixing Bowl – Similar
- Black Patterned Cotton Tea Towel
- Gold and Acacia Wood Measuring Cups
- Children’s Wooden Coffee Maker
- Children’s Wooden Toaster
- Small Appetizer Plates
All in all, the true joy in completing the space is watching her little face light up as she plays for hours on end in her kitchen. I’m excited for the memories that’ll be made in this space in the years to come.