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 In January, I brought home this stereo cabinet from the Goodwill outlet for $5. It had double glass doors on the front and an interior shelf, which I removed. The structure was good, and so I snagged it right away with intentions to make it into the perfect play fridge for Nathan. 

 I got quite inspired after seeing The PLAN TOY REFRIGERATOR last fall, but KNEW it would always be way outside of my budget range. Instead, I used that fridge as my inspiration, and got started on my own plan.

Looking back, I’m not really sure why I thought I could pull off a project like this. I mean, it involves wood. And cutting, and measuring, and power tools (some of which I’ve only used one time before, and not great at that). I guess I’ll attribute that tenacity to a little craziness on my part, and the knowledge that if I get myself in over head at any point, Steven will no doubt be there to happily bail me out. He’s a good one for that! So, Ahem…I proceeded on….

In February I primed the stereo cabinet in my dark basement. And there it sat for the next four months untouched, until now. Steven helped me purchase one huge sheet of plywood at Lowe’s for $13.56. We had Lowe’s cut it into fourths for us, so we could get it into the car  (one piece below is pictured against the fence).

 Then I got out an array of power tools to use…. It’s truly amazing HOW MANY different tools you find useful for just one project. I kept running back into the house for “one more thing.” I mainly used all you see here: 18volt power drill with drill bits, measuring tape, safety glasses, hammer, pencil, screwdriver, paper, and circular saw (and a kid shoe thrown in).

And here was my very, very rough sketched out plan. I use the correct wisdom and measured twice (at least) and cut once. Ooooh, wow! I never realized quite how much math can be involved here: Yikes! Not my strong suit…but, I did manage even several fractions. 8th grade Algebra seems like oh, so long ago to remember! : )  
The stereo cabinet had the wierdest dimentions EVER, and so there had to be some pretty precise cuts. Next time, I think I’ll just build my own frame! : )
With only one attempt under my belt of using the circular saw on THIS project last fall, I started out kind of shaky, but went slower this time on my measurements and cuts. Within minutes, literally, I was at home with the saw, and I think it liked me too. My safety glasses were a must on this one, as saw dust was flying everywhere, even into my hair. We don’t own saw horses, so I just cut the wood as you see, off the side of the frame of the stereo cabinet. 

 I first cut one piece to cover the whole back side of the cabinet, nailing it in place. Then I cut two doors for the front. One smaller, for the freezer above, and one larger for the fridge part below.

 I cut and added two shelves on the inside and kept them in place by also cutting mounting strips for along the sides. I didn’t want Nathan to be able to remove them at any point, posing a hazard to his safety.

 I bought two sets of brackets in different sizes at Ace to mount the fridge doors on with. Due to the inside lip of the stereo cabinet, I had quite a struggle placing these fridge doors on. The wood cutting was a breeze for me, compared to mounting these hinges. Sigh. Like 7 tries later, I finally got it.

 I really wanted Nathan to have some “crisper” drawers at the bottom, and so I made up my own dimentions to two drawers. They didn’t come out flush, or perfect by any means, but some intense sanding later made them just right and usable. Not too shabby for my first project.

 At Steven’s recommendation, I used wood glue on each edge of the crisper drawers, and held the pieces in place with nails in my power shot staple gun.

 Here is one assembled drawer and one to be cut and built:

 And a “rough shell” of my fridge building attempt after day one.

 Priming day happened about a week later, and because Nathan begged me to help him once he saw the paint (and kept saying “paint, paint”!), I decided to have him help me. I’m glad I did. It was hilarious! We got covered in water-based primer, ruined a set of play clothes, and smothered the fridge in paint, but it was so much fun!!! Little guy just LOVED it! He painted the whole thing, inside and out, in just 15 minutes. And, to my surprise, did a pretty good job too!

 And N wanted to help prime it again…for the next three days straight! : )

 After the primer was dry, I added a few layers (by myself 🙂 ) of Rustoleum magnetic paint.

 While the fridge was in my kitchen, I painted the fridge frame with this Valspar summer paint series from Lowe’s! Thanks, to my friend, Arren, I was able to get it for free! Yea!
I finished off the front and inside of the fridge doors with 2 coats of chalkboard spray paint. Now he can draw with chalk on it and in it (which I know N will do anyways), and play with the lightweight magnets that it will hold. The door handles are both from Lowe’s and are different sized drawer handles. The fridge doors stay shut with magnetic closures I already had. 
Here is the finished product, and the little man playing with it:

A Successful FIRST wooden project by Mommy I would say! I love it! And am in love with that industrial/vintage look to it.
What I spent on the fridge
one piece of plywood, cut into fourths….$14.00
2 packs of hinges, different sizes……$6.00
stereo cabinet…….$5.00
2 drawer handles……$9.00
magnetic paint (a splurge)…..$21.00
chalkboard spray paint…..$5.00
Total for fridge: $60.
Total (without splurges of magnetic and chalkboard paint purchased): $34.
Total time I probably invested in the whole project: 10 hours

And both are way less than the one I wanted for $198. Win, win. 
And….I’m sure you’re not surprised by the fact that I already have a second wooden project in mind for our little guy…. A toddler-sized picnic table for our backyard! Oh, yes! I think I will! 
Ana White’s blog is my new favorite!!!!! She has incredibly awesome plans for DIY building tons of things!!!! And her projects are available for FREE! I’m so excited! This stay at home mom builds like I sew, and I just love it!!!! She has so many things I’d like to try, but I’m thinking it will start with this table for Nathan!!!! 
Want to build your own fridge or kitchenette for your kids? There are plenty of DIY ones on Pinterest that I’m in love with, or Ana White also shares free and easy plans for building a set on her site as well:


Joy2Sew is a sewing business specializing in bridal alterations, custom costume creations, sewing lessons, and pdf patterns for children's costumes.

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