Fabulous Upcycled Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

When I saw this amazing DIY project shared in an early childhood teaching Facebook group, I just knew that I had to feature it on the blog – it is just awesome! Fortunately for us, the lovely Linda from Lessons From a Teacher agreed to share her fabulous idea and her family’s hard work with us. See how they transformed a humble secondhand TV unit into a pretend play diner for preschoolers or kindergarteners.

DIY Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

Recipe for an Upcycled Play Diner
(A Long Service Leave Project)


  • One dad (or someone handy with power tools if you’re not)
  • One TV unit
  • Rough plan of what you want to do
  • Paint
  • Tools
  • Nails, screws, hinges, wood etc
  • Anything you can lay your hands on that might be useful (including a kitchen sink!)
  • Time (you’ll need plenty of this)


1. Start nagging dad early. Perfect phrases to use: “I love you so much, Dad. You know how you’re really good with power tools?” or “You know that plumbing job you did last week? You wouldn’t happen to have taken out a tap set that I could use for a project?” or “Hey Dad, the grandkids haven’t seen you for a while. Would you like to come and stay for a few days? Bring your tools, please.”

2. Once dad is on side collect all the ingredients and get your creativity on. Start by taking off any doors and sanding back any areas that need work.

DIY Pretend Play Diner from a secondhand TV unit

3. Take a look at the shelf and realise it is too low for children to work at so take the top shelf and move it down to the bottom.

4. Find a tap and sink to install.

5. Realise the sink is too big to fit in the space provided and go to plan B – a bowl instead.

6. Trace the bowl, tap and tap handles and cut holes in the shelf. Install. Forget to put the washer in. Uninstall. Reinstall.

Make a DIY Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

7.  Visit your sister. See a stovetop in her shed leftover from her kitchen remodel. Ask if she is going to be needing that.

8. Cut stovetop down to size to fit in. Cut self on sharp edges. Figure it is not too child friendly and rectify with a wooden frame. Spray wood silver and hope it blends in.

Make a DIY Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

9. Start working on fridge, oven and pantry doors. Revisit handy tradie sayings such as “Measure twice. Cut once” and “Righty Tighty. Leftie Loosey.”

Make a DIY Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

10. Find mini coloured saucepans on sale at Kmart for $1 each. Gather them all up doing a Gollum impersonation, “My preciousssssssss.”

Make a DIY Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

11. Repeat step 10 but replace saucepans with block out curtain material and Kmart with Spotlight.

Make a DIY Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

12. Have pies, sausage rolls, hotdogs and anything else that requires sauce or mustard every night of the week for a fortnight so you can have the bottles for your diner. Fill the bottom of them with a little Plaster of Paris to give them weight.

DIY Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

13.  Attach doors. Take doors off again after realizing it’s easier to paint with them off. Soothe blisters with aloe vera after all the screwing and unscrewing.

14.  Paint

DIY Diner

15.  Paint some more

16.  Paint again

17.  Surely three coats is enough! Take a break from the fumes. Make note to self – next time get water based paint even if you have to go to a different store to get it.

18.  Get excited that the end is near.

19.  Start making a vinyl sign online. Upload it to a .com.au website so it gets here quicker. Go through checkout and wonder why the shipping says UPS and not Australia Post.

20.  Wait.

21. Get tracking number for sign. Do a little happy dance. Check to see where it is. India?? Refresh tracking repeatedly to help it get here faster.

22.  Install sign.

Make a DIY Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

23. Pat self on back.

DIY Diner from an upcycled TV unit

24. Remember that dad helped and ring to thank him.

DIY Imaginative Play Diner from a TV Cabinet

Thank you so much Linda for sharing with us!

lindaprofile pic


About Linda: Hi, I’m Linda Jubb from lessonsfromateacher.com. I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years and have spent more than half of that time working in Early Childhood. I’m passionate about working with young children and getting the creative juices flowing. I’m currently working in a small town in the south west of Western Australia teaching Kindy.