When Oscar was around two, he was spending a lot of time engaging in pretend play. He got a set of wooden vegetables at Christmas from his grandparents and he'd often make me lunch , using the TV bench as an oven (haha!). I had always wanted to get him a pretend kitchen but wanted to make sure he would play in it before investing the money... so I had the idea to make him a cardboard one. I kind of felt it killed two birds with one stone; he'd have a kitchen to play with and we could recycle some of the packaging/material we had.
I used several cardboard boxes we accumulated over the past few months - I knew I wanted a taller one for a fridge and two shorter, deeper ones for a stovetop and a sink. I then wrapped them in white paper with some spray glue. For the openings (doors, sink, faucet etc), I marked them out with pencil and cut them out with an exactor knife. The door handles are the handles from paper bags we'd collected (poke two holes in the door, thread the handle through and knot at the back), the sink is a spare plastic bowl we had lying around, the faucet is the top of an old soap dispenser and the knobs for the kitchen and sink are bottle caps I had saved (I had taped them onto a straw and inserted them through holes I made in the cardboard so they could spin - I'm pretty sure there is a more sturdy and secure way to do this but it was all I had on hand at the moment). To finish, I added some coasters as stovetop elements and outlined all the openings with a sharpie to add some definition. There are, of course, imperfections that I wish I could fix, like how the fixings and wrapping didn't go on quite as smoothly as I had hoped, but I think part of it's charm is that it's a little rough around the edges.
We've since upgraded to a real kitchen set from Ikea, after River destroyed much of this kitchen (she pulled all the knobs off, tore through some of the paper and bent the doors - little destructor!). We were sad to see it go - Oscar actually wouldn't let me put it in the recycling bin even after we'd set up his new kitchen - but I'm happy that it was well-loved and played with for a good while.