Last Christmas, I decided that a play kitchen would be the perfect gift for Avery. The only problem was that we had just moved to Honduras, and didn’t really have enough time to order one online and have it delivered in time for Christmas. I ended up scratching that idea, and figured her 2nd birthday would be an even better time to get her the kitchen. Knowing that it would take me a while (I am the opposite of an impulse buyer!!) I started the search right away for the perfect play kitchen. My requirements were: it had to be all wood, eco-friendly and non-toxic, not take up a ton of room, and look nice enough to have it out in the living room or kitchen. I found a handful that I really liked, but none that I was completely sold on. Below is a roundup of my very favorites, and what I did and didn’t like about each one. With Christmas coming up, I figured there are lots of mamas (and dads) looking for the best play kitchens for their little ones. Hopefully some of my (year-long) research can help you.
1. Pottery Barn Kids Retro Kitchen Collection
Pottery Barn. The original. The OG. The mac daddy of play kitchens. I fell in love with their retro kitchen before I even had kids. The retro design, all of the little details like the knobs that click when you turn them, the timer, love it all. But at $700 without tax or shipping, it is a little steep. Plus it is big, and I was really looking for a smaller footprint. The other hesitation I had was on the finish. I have had to return Pottery Barn furniture before because it was most definitely not low or no-VOC. I definitely was tempted when I saw that the retro kitchen is now available in white (the red is a little too bright, and the pink is a little too girly, but the white is just perfect!) In the end, not for us.
2. Pottery Barn Kids All-in-1 Retro Kitchen
It is almost as if Pottery Barn read my mind and made a kitchen that changed most of what I didn’t like about the retro kitchen collection. It is all-in-one, less expensive, and much smaller than the original. But I still worried about the toxic fumes that have been known to come out of PB furniture. This is the only one of the play kitchens that I wasn’t able to see in person, and I really didn’t want to take the risk of ordering it sight unseen since I don’t have the ability to return it if I didn’t like it.
3. Educo My Creative Cookery Club
The smallest and lightest weight of all of the play kitchens I looked at, definitely for the toddler set. Solid wood with non-toxic finishes, and it comes with some food, pots, pans, plates and utinsels, making it the best value by far. You really wouldn’t need to purchase anything more. But isn’t part of the fun buying all of the accessories? I also wanted something a bit bigger, and a bit sturdier. If I was going strictly for budget, this would have been the winner, hands down. There is a miniature version of this, that also come with the accessories, called My First Kitchen.
4. Ikea Duktig Mini Kitchen
Very small and simple. It would fit in anywhere, without sticking out and screaming “kid’s toy”. It does kind of look like Ikea, but not in a bad way. I like the hutch with the microwave, but didn’t like that the oven opens from the side, like a cabinet, instead of from the top. (Most of the other kicthens had this same problem as well.) A good solid choice for a small kitchen, but much more expensive than the My Creative Cookery and doesn’t include any accessories. I wanted to love this one, but just didn’t.
5. Plan Toys Kitchen
Plan Toys is my all-time favorite toy company. We have quite a few of their toys, and I love them all. Great quality, all of the wood comes from rubber trees that no longer produce latex, and all of the finishes are completely non-toxic. They are pricy if you are planning on getting the refrigerator, sink, washing machineand stove, but the quality is amazing and I know they would last forever. Instead of the set, there is the double-sided Kitchen Center, with a sink, stove and oven all in one. Perfect for multiple children, since each could play on a different side. The only problem was that they are kind of tall, and I wanted something that she could use now, plus the colors are a little bright for me. If these came in white or gray, I might have been sold. (11/18/12 – Edited to add: Great review of this set in the comments!)
6. Educo Gourmet Chef Kitchen
The Educo gourmet kitchen is nice and small, but not as small as the My Creative Cookery. Solid wood construction and non-toxic paints finishes make this a good eco-friendly choice. It was just a bit lightweight, and I was a little unsure of the durability in the long run. There is an adorable matching fridge, The Coolest Cooler, that almost sold me, but the main part of this kitchen that I liked was the small footprint, so I probably wouldn’t go with the fridge. It also comes in bright green, which is a little wild and crazy for my allergic-to-color-taste, but some might like it.
7. Willow Toys
Beautiful, solid wood, hand made in New Hampshire with all non-toxic finishes and adhesives. They ship fully assembled, which is nice, and the quality is outstanding. In the end, I was looking for a bit more oomph. If you want a simple Waldorf style play kitchen, though, this is an easy choice. There are a few different styles, and all are reasonably priced for handmade furniture. For the space constrained, they also have a beautiful table top version.
8. Haba Play Cooker
A perfect solution for families without the space for even the smallest play kitchen. I loved that you could set this on the counter and the little ones can cook right next to you. I didn’t love that there wasn’t storage for the play food or other accessories. If you are short on space and looking for a table top version, you could also try the Plan Toys Pink Tabletop Stove and Cookware Setor the Plan Toys Red Tabletop Stove.
9. KidKraft Vintage Kitchen
I know a lot of people who have this kitchen and swear by it. It is very cute, similar in style to the PB Kids, but much less expensive. I love the all in one design and all of the accessories, the phone, the microwave and the ice maker. Also similar to the PB Kids, it comes in red, pink and white, but of course I liked the white. I almost went with this one. However, it comes unassembled, and from what I hear it is a very lengthy assembly. If I am going to spend 5 hours putting it together, why not build my own? Also, I couldn’t find anything about the wood or finishes, and I really worry about toxic fumes.
So as you probably gathered, I didn’t go with any of them. Nope, I decided that I would take the parts of each one that I liked and build my own. Needless to say, the kitchen didn’t get done by her birthday. My goal is now Christmas. I will definitely have it done by this Christmas.
Do any of you have personal experience with any of these kitchens? Any that may show up under the tree this year? I would love to hear your thoughts on them!