Kids love to keep you company in the kitchen, and a set of toy pots, dishes, and food will keep them busy pretend-cooking while you get to the real thing. Jean Williamson from San Marcos, California, came up with the perfect solution for her two little wanna-be gourmets: an easily and inexpensively constructed play kitchen that houses all the paraphernalia of her budding chefs.
The kitchen's base is stacking shelves intended for closet organization. Stack a pair on each side (you may need to cut the shelves down to size with a jigsaw.) Set the shelves about a foot apart, then measure and cut a countertop and backsplash from the plywood.
Drill a starter hole, then use a jigsaw to cut a hole in the countertop just large enough to hold a rimmed metal bowl.
Screw the backsplash to the counter and give the unit a coat of latex paint.
Fun details really seal the deal: painted flowers on the backsplash, a spout fashioned from the scrap wood from the sink hole, hooks to hang pot holders, junk mail CD-ROMs for the range burners, and wooden sink and stove knobs painted with acrylics (drill a pilot hole, then screw them in place). For the elegant finale, a cafe rod and clip-on hooks hold a fabric-scrap curtain.