DIY Kids: Kitchen Buffet Tutorial

Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, we have accumulated quite a lot of play kitchen ‘stuff.’ Felt, wooden and plastic food, tea sets, picnic sets, canisters, toasters, etc, etc, etc. Immy loves imaginative play and uses these props regularly to cook for and feed others – her family, her friends, her dolls and other toys.

I was starting to feel that it was all getting a bit hard to keep track of, very unorganised. Her sink/stove unit is still going strong but doesn’t really provide any storage space. I believe if children’s things are not kept in an easy to organise and maintain system, they are much less likely to respect what they have, care and maintain them, or play with them in meaningful ways for extended periods of time.

All of this led me to the most obvious decision – time for a new DIY Kids project, this time a simple kitchen buffet for display and storage. All it took was some boxes, thick cardboard and a few rolls of self adhesive book covering (Contact paper). Here is how I did it…

1. I used three book/wine packing boxes, all taped closed. The boxes you choose work best if they are all the same size.
2. Tape two of the boxes together with packaging or masking tape. This will form the base, cupboard section of the buffet.
3. Cut the third box in half. The two halves will sit side by side to form the open shelving unit of the buffet.
4. Next you need to gather some scrap thick box cardboard to make the shelves and false backs for the open shelf units. The false backs help to actually support the shelves. One side of my shelving unit will be divided in half, with one shelf, and the other will be divided into thirds, with two shelves.
4A. To make the shelves themselves, I measured the inside width and depth of the box it will sit in. I cut two pieces of thick card for each shelf (three shelves in total) and glued them together with white PVA glue. It is important to do this first as you need to know how thick your finished shelves are before making the false backs. Once the glue is dry, cover your shelves in book covering.

4B. To make the false backs;
Once you have worked out your measurements, cut two pieces of thick card for each section and glue them securely together. When the glue is dry, cover the fronts of each piece in book covering and then glue each piece into place inside the shelving unit.

5. Cover the front and sides of the bottom cupboard section with the book covering. I have been wondering what to do with this cute wood grain book covering ever since I found it a few months ago!
6. Use packaging tape or wide masking tape to tape the two shelf units together and to secure them on top of the cupboard base.
7. Cover the top of the cupboard section with book covering. I found this a little fiddly and easiest to do in two sections, cutting notches to fit inside the base of the shelving units as I went.

8. Cover the sides (inside and out) of the top shelving units with book covering.

9. To fit shelves;

9A. Slide the shelves in, fitting them into place between each section of the false back.

9B. Use some thick box cardboard to make some small shelf supports which will sit under each shelf (one each side). Once again, I glued together two pieces of card for each support. Cover in book covering and attach in place with double sided tape – glue will not adhere well to the book covering.
A close up of the support;
10. Using a utility knife, cut a small door opening for the bottom cupboard unit. Use strips of book covering to neaten each side of the door and opening and then attach a knob or handle. I used a Kosing handle from Ikea (comes in a packet of 6 for $3.95), punching holes in the cardboard with a pen and screwing it into place.
And it is finished. Now, it’s simply a matter of moving it into position, stocking it and test driving with the help of a very busy toddler!
Lucky for me, Immy kindly makes me a cup of tea and a slice of cake after all my hard work!
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  1. Melissa says:

    They look amazing. At first glance I wouldn't have guessed they're cardboard boxes.

  2. SquiggleMum says:

    She does it again… Christie, the master of cardboard and contact!! Amazing DIY project.

  3. great job Christie, are you taking orders???

  4. Busy Brissy Mum says:

    The toys will be excited to get an invitation to tea in such a beautiful and tidy kitchen.

  5. Narelle Nettelbeck says:

    Awesome job!

  6. Another awesome project. I thought it was wood!

  7. Oh Gorgeous Baby says:

    Wow what a clever Mummy you are! Thanks for sharing.

  8. amandab says:

    That looks fantastic! And now I feel like a fool for having sent all our boxes away in the recycling bin after moving! D'oh!

  9. jenny @ let the children play says:

    I need some new furniture at my place but I don't have a big budget – perhaps you'd like to make me some :)

    Looks amazing, and I'm sure Immy will have loads of fun with it.

    And I couldn't agree more about keeping things organised – when we have too much stuff out at preschool the kids are far less respectful of the materials and their environment.

  10. katepickle says:

    you and your cardboard box constructions never cease to amaze me… you must have loved box construction at preschool! LOL

  11. That is an awesome use of cardboard boxes. Thank you for sharing this tutorial.

  12. Wow Christie … how clever are you?!
    Donna :) :)

  13. janimal says:

    SO clever! Wow!

  14. Teacher Tom says:

    Very impressive, Christie!

  15. Making your own stuff is such a good idea – and this is great! I'll definitely send my teacher friends here for the info (and use it myself when I need it).

  16. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama says:

    That is too cute! You'll have to update us when the kids finally wear them out – I'm curious to see how long they will last.

  17. MaryAnne says:

    This is gorgeous! I was trying to figure out what it was made out of, and never would have guessed cardboard without the tutorial!

  18. VERY cute! Nice use of the wood grain book covering.

  19. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa says:


    Have you read the book: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis? I think you would LOVE it!

  20. Lara at Silk Playground says:

    Wow! Very impressive, and cost effective, too.

  21. Mid-Craft Crisis says:

    This is great! I made our kids a box kitchen last winter. It was played with a lot! When summer came they stopped playing with it so much so we ended up getting rid of it. Here is a link to see it. Now that winter is upon us again here, I have started a new one. Using contact is a great idea!

  22. Absoultey fantastic! I think I'll try my hand at one this summer. LOVE IT!

  23. Mid-Craft Crisis says:

    I finally finished our new box kitchen and finally put it up on my blog.
    I put a link to this post on there because I used your idea of covering it with contact.

  24. Melissa Rickert says:

    I love your blog! I stumbled across it and am absolutely loving all of the creative and innovative ideas you have for stimulating young minds! I’m studying to become a Early Childhood Educator, I receive my bachelors next May and I also have a 9.5 month old. The kitchen idea is spectacular, and I will definitely be making one in the months to come. :)

  25. Wow, what lucky children you have! To have such a creative mother!


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