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Functional Montessori Kids Kitchen (With Working Sink) IKEA Hack!

Updated: Feb 7



What can my child do on their own if only I let them?


The answer? So much.


I knew as soon as I found out I was having a child that I wanted to take a more "Montessori approach"- and I say that carefully because I'm just a normal mom trying my best and am by no means perfect. But so much of Maria Montessori's philosophy makes so much sense to me, so setting up spaces in my home that were e a s i l y accessible for Adalynn was a huge priority of mine!


The space I was MOST excited about was obviously this kitchen. I first saw it being used in a practical way by Laura on TikTok (who shares all about her life with her two boys). I was so inspired but then spent hours researching different methods and products to find the easiest way to renovate (because I'm not a crafty person) and the most practical items to stock it with, which I will dive into in this post.


All products linked are commissionable, which means I will make a small percentage of your purchase through my link at no extra cost to you.


In this Post;



Step 1: Order the Kitchen

Original IKEA Kitchen

You can find it from third-party sellers, but the cheapest option is ordering right from IKEA ($99 USD). Sometimes it's sold out, so plan to order it before you actually need it. We wanted to introduce it to my daughter at 12M, so we ordered it when she was about 8M old. (This way, I had time to renovate it as well!)


You can also find it on resale sights like Facebook marketplace if you're lucky! Don't feel like you HAVE to use IKEA's kitchen either. There are fancier options out there that may take some of the renovating out of the picture, and we just went for the cheapest option at the time.


Step 2: Renovate the Kitchen


Now a lot of this is up to you. If you plan on making the kitchen functional, you will need to waterproof it and install a water system at the bare minimum, but we wanted to deck it out, which included paint, a backsplash, organizers, and hooks to hang items on the side.


As renters, we had no idea what our kitchen would look like year to year, so I couldn't plan for her tiny kitchen to match ours- instead, we kept hers neutral with pops of color through the accessories.

All the pieces laid out

PLANNING: The first thing I did was open the box and lay the pieces out. I checked to make sure we had everything because I would be so frustrated if, in the middle of the project, I realized something was missing.


This also helped me identify what pieces I wanted to paint and what I wanted to leave. We were painting the entire kitchen white, which meant all the tan wood would need to be primed and painted (including the countertop piece because I wanted the underside and edges to be painted). The pieces that were already white were good to go, so I left them as is.


MODIFICATIONS:


You have 2 different basic

options for water;

Either a water dispenser like the glass one below that sits on top of the counter or a water pump like the ones on the right that pulls that water up from hidden jugs below. We went with the latter, which seems more like a real working faucet to me!





1. Before whipping out my paintbrush, I wanted to drill a hole in the water dispenser (it's not necessary but adds stability which I thought was worth it- I requested help from my best friend Jack since I don't have the tools or confidence to do this on my own). He used a 2" hole saw to drill the hole.

He also added a piece of PVC pipe to fit

into the sink so that I could secure it even more underneath the counter to


p. The PVC pipe was 1 1/2" with a 1 1/2" coupling that was cut in half to secure through the countertop. However, You CAN keep the faucet just sitting on the

counter and feed the tube through the holes that already exist without having to drill at all.


2. During this step, we also drilled holes in the sink so that the sink would actually drain!


Renovation Supplies:

1 1/2 in hole saw

1 1/2 in PVC pipe and coupling

Accessory Spray Paint


PAINTING:


ACCESSORY PAINT: We used paint and primer in one spray paint to paint the accessories (poles, hangers, feet, and handles). We set it up so that everything was hanging, and we were able to quickly paint everything all at once, which reduced drying and waiting time. We did 2 coats but overall took less than a day of wait time.


CABINET PRIMER: Despite my normal lack of patience, I tried to take my time with this process. I worked on it a little bit every day (each time my daughter slept). We used this primer (so we didn't have to sand the pieces before painting). I did 2 coats of primer on each side and made sure to allow it to dry fully before flipping it over to prime the other side. I painted with a small roller brush, and it made things quick and easy!


CABINET PAINT: After all the pieces were properly primed, we painted the pieces (again very slowly and with all the patience I had). I again painted with a small roller brush. In between coats, I would put the roller brush in a plastic bag so it didn't dry out and put tinfoil over the paint tray.

CONTACT PAPER: We used contact paper to ensure that the countertop is waterproof. This is basically a big sticker that I adhered to the top of the counter and then used a razor blade to cut out the hole for the faucet and sink. I chose a natural wood look (that looks like the original countertop), but there are so many different finishes available

depending on what you're looking for!


Step 3: Build the FUNCTIONAL Kitchen

Items we didn't use for our kitchen

Follow the instructions that come with the IKEA kitchen to put it all together. We made a few modifications (skipped a few steps) so that we would be able to keep it functional.


  1. We didn't add the shelf underneath the sink (right side of the kitchen)

  2. We didn't add the "fake microwave" and instead left that as an open shelf

  3. We didn't use the "stove top" or "faucet" they provided




BACKSPLASH: After the whole thing was put together, I found a cardboard box cut it up, and taped it together so that it would fit on the back of the kitchen like a backsplash. Once it was the correct size, I applied a tile contact paper on one side of it. I then used a hot glue gun to adhere it to the backside of the kitchen and used the hot glue along the inner edges as well to act as a grout and prevent leaking out of the back of the kitchen.


  1. We installed the working faucet from Amazon and attached the PVC coupling to secure it underneath.

  2. We added 2-gallon jugs underneath the faucet. One with clean water that the hose of the faucet goes into and one with dirty water that has a funnel in it and sits right under the sink to collect the dirty water from the sink that has holes drilled through it.

  3. We used velcro strips to adhere the cutting board to the countertop over the hole that was meant to be the "fake stove".


Step 4: Stock the Kitchen



To reiterate what was outlined above, these are the "functional items" that we included in the kitchen:

  1. Water Faucet (with PVC pipe insert)

  2. IKEA Sink with holes drilled in

  3. 2 Gallon Jugs (one for clean and one for dirty water)

  4. Funnel for dirty water jug to help catch the water

  5. Cutting board attached with velcro instead of the fake stove

But truly everything in the entire kitchen was chosen intentionally

and will be used functionally.


Here is a list (with links) of all of the items we used.

  1. Water Faucet (with PVC pipe insert)

  2. IKEA Sink with holes drilled in (comes with kitchen)

  3. 2 Gallon Jugs (one for clean and one for dirty water)

  4. Funnel for dirty water jug to help catch the water

  5. Cutting board attached with velcro instead of the fake stove

  6. Basket Labels (text made with Cricut Joy)

  7. IKEA Soap Dispenser (spray painted black)

  8. Acrylic Bins inside Cabinets

  9. Decorative Sign- Target $5 Shop!

  10. Dish Soap

  11. Fridge *coming soon

  12. Shelving *coming soon


Step 5: Utilizing the Kitchen


Our functional kids' kitchen lives in our actual kitchen! We are fortunate enough to have the space for it, so it makes sense that it's right here. But don't let this stop you; find space anywhere you can!

When we started using the kitchen with our daughter, we immediately removed the kitchen legs. *The black feet can be taken off to lower the height of the kitchen and can be used in different ways to increase the height of the kitchen incrementally.


The kitchen will slowly become used more and more as time goes on, but we aim not to force or overwhelm Adalynn and instead allow her to explore at her own pace.


Some of the first tasks that we encouraged her to do were;

  • wash hands

  • turn on the light

  • chop soft foods (like avocado)

  • wash utensils

  • grab a cleaning cloth to wipe up spills

  • mash foods (like avocados)

  • get your own plate setting (glass, plate, silverware)

  • wipe face

  • fill up water

  • practice pouring

  • water plant

Some days Adalynn is overjoyed to participate, and some days she wants nothing to do with the kitchen. We follow her lead (and interest), lead by example, and do our best to make it a very positive experience.


Frequently Asked Questions:


Why a functional kitchen instead of a pretend play kitchen?


A functional "Montessori" kitchen is set up in a way that it functions like a normal kitchen but is fully accessible for your child. It is not meant to encourage "imaginary play" but instead to teach them real-life skills. They will use it to wash hands, prepare meals, organize and store their own supplies, and learn to keep their workspace clean.


When can you start using it, and how long will they use it for?


We started with our daughter at 13M, but our next baby will begin as soon as they can stand. It truly is never too early to start encouraging independence when your child shows interest.


How long did it take you in total?


As I specified in the article, I tried my best not to rush the process (I may be known to try and speed up paint times, and it ends up looking terrible). Instead, I slowly primed and painted the kitchen, which took the longest amount of time. In total, I probably spent around an hour a day for a week painting, priming, building, purchasing, and stocking the kitchen for a total of about 7 hours (give or take).






Always, Jess



L E T ' S B E F R I E N D S!





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