David and I had been talking about purchasing a play kitchen for Ryan for several months. Because Ryan’s birthday is in December, we are learning how to deal with purchasing larger items at the appropriate developmental stages. Let me try and explain what I mean. Typically, kids receive “big ticket items” for their birthday and/or over the holidays. Ryan’s birthday falling just a few weeks before Christmas makes it a bit tough because then it feels like we should wait a full year to buy him anything super expensive. Developmentally, he has progressed so much with regards to play that he was so ready for a toy kitchen. Waiting another six months seemed a bit silly because he would use the heck out of it now so why was I so stuck on waiting?
Well, we decided to go ahead and buy him the kitchen. The kid had turned our kitchen table bench into his very own coffee shop. It was the first place he went each morning. He has a little coffee set (that I will link because it’s ADORABLE) and was adding at least one a new item from our pantry to his “shop” daily. If you glanced at his coffee shop, you might notice that he had quite an extensive menu including a bottles of tonic water, packets of ranch dressing, brownie mix, miscellaneous spices, and the list goes on. It was so adorable to watch him but after a couple of months of cleaning up all of his items and dragging the bench back to the table several times a day, it was time for a solution for Ryan, for David and me and for our poor floors. A solution that I knew would provide Ryan with such joy and one that will allow me to keep the kitchen a bit tidier…not to mention allow me to get things accomplished because playing with his coffee shop/food is the only time he would independently play for a long period of time.
Because I tend to over-research for larger items like this one, I hunted and researched for months. We had a few important criteria…
1. It would be safe for Ryan.
2. Dimensions would allow the kitchen to fit in a specified spot in our kitchen
3. It would provide enough stimulation for Ryan, meaning it would have several components
4. It would provide ample storage for toy food, pots, cups, plates, etc.
5. It would blend with our kitchen color scheme…because I am crazy. Admittedly. Ryan has a nice-sized playroom as well as a ton of space in our basement where we keep his toys. The main areas in our house have remained relatively toy-less. Ryan has plenty of areas for all of his “stuff” and I felt it was important for David and I to continue to have space of our own. The same goes for the kitchen. My hope was to have Ryan’s kitchen look like a mini extension of the rest of the (white and gray) space but knew that it was going to be a tall order.
I actually began searching last year when we thought about giving Ry a kitchen for Christmas but ultimately decided that it was too early. As his interest in other children’s kitchens grew and once he became fixated with his coffee set, we knew it was the right time.
I will share the kitchens that made the final cut and then share which one we ended up selecting.
First up, the classic, the OG, the Cadillac of kid’s kitchens: Pottery Barn’s Retro Kitchen in Simply White. There is a reason why it is so popular. It is pretty incredible. From the design to the functionality. It is prettier than our actual kitchen. The adorable faucet mimics a chrome finish and there is even adorable little towel rack attached to the side of the sink. Pottery Barn thought of just about everything when this kitchen was designed…except for the fact that all three pieces together are massive. While that can be seen as an advantage if you have large space where you want to put the kitchen, in our case, the kitchen needed to fit in a small space. Because of the size and hefty price tag for a non-birthday/holiday gift, we passed on this one.
Next on our short list, the Ikea Dutkig kitchen. Because our kitchen it white and gray with salvaged wood accents, I loved the fact that this kitchen would blend in rather well. The simple and sleek design was appealing and the tiny microwave was such a cute addition. The positives (besides the cool look)? The kitchen’s legs have three different heights, allowing it to grow with your child. Also, the burner lights glow red which is such cute touch. While I really liked this kitchen and it remained one of my top picks, ultimately, I decided that it was a touch too small and I was worried that Ryan might tire of it quickly.
The sweet little kitchen from Land of Nod immediately caught my eye. I fell hard for that pop of yellow. The faucet with the cross bar was almost too cute to resist. Heck, I wanted to buy the kitchen so I could find an adorable little gingham pot holder to hang just like in the picture. Ultimately, I realized that I wanted to buy this kitchen…for myself. The style did not go with our house at all, which wouldn’t matter to a lot of people but it was important to me that it blend in. Also, I could see Ryan becoming frustrated with those sliding doors, especially the ones up high. Reluctantly, I had to emotionally move on from this kitchen.
*For those of you who have space for a larger kitchen, I want to note that this is only one of a set of three pieces. There is also an insanely cool oven and fridge available.)
I had always heard great things about the durability of Kidkraft kitchens so I was pleased to have found the Kidkraft Vintage Kitchen. I thought the overall design was so charming, from the old fashioned phone to the adorable little ice maker on the front of the fridge. The reasonable price point (149.99 but could also be found as low as 127.00 with some hunting) was attractive so I kept this one on the list. Well, I kept this one on my list until I read reviews. So many complaints about how many hours it took to assemble as well as gripes about parts not lining up properly. A close friend informed me that she had given her son a Kidkraft kitchen for Christmas a couple years back and said that the time to put it together was not worth saving twenty dollars or the strain it put on her marriage while putting it together. Ha! After that, I promptly removed this kitchen from my list.
Next up, this modern kitchen from Sprout Kids. I was initially drawn to the small footprint and clean lines. It is a great little kitchen for someone who has limited space. While it doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles of the kitchens above, it does have the bare necessities. It features a sink, a wooden stovetop, a microwave drawer, a small fridge area and an oven. A few appealing features were the fact that it can be assembled in less than ten minutes (cough, cough, allegedly), it is made from recycled materials, and all of the corners are rounded. If you have a little money zipping around your household, you’ll likely appreciate that last fact too. While I loved the narrow width of this particular kitchen, I ultimately fell prey to the aforementioned bells and whistles of another kitchen. #sucker
Finally, I researched the All-in-One Retro Kitchen from Pottery Barn. From the design, to the beautiful gray color to the adorable little salt and pepper shakers, this compact kitchen stole my heart. The slim fridge allows for a lot of storage space while not taking up much surface area. The retro temperature gauge and stovetop face were too cute to resist. Let’s not even get started about the pot hangers. The more I researched, the more I kept coming back to this one. I ended up measuring to see if it would fit the space and it was perfect. Kinda crazy perfect. Because most of the Pottery Barn stores don’t keep all of the kitchens in stock, I decided to at least go visit our local store and see if they had an version of the kitchen so I could open the cabinets, turns the knobs, etc. I told the salesperson which kitchen I was interested in and said, “I know you probably don’t have it here in the store but do you happen to have a similar one?”. She turned to the other saleswoman and said, “Didn’t we just get this kitchen in this morning?”. I took it as a sign and fifteen minutes later I was pulling the car around back and loading the Retro All-in-One in the back of the car. This was about two months ago and his little kitchen is still the very first place Ryan goes each morning. For us, it has proven to be the perfect fit!
Here is our little guy playing with his kitchen…and cleaning the sink.
…and then he still heads over to take stuff out of our drawers…sigh…
Hope you all have a wonderful week!