As soon as we found our new home, I knew I would be building the kids a new bigger mud kitchen that would allow all three of them to play alongside one another but still have plenty of individual space to do their own thing.
Outdoor play is something that Casey and I both hold close to our heart and we want to encourage and provide that lifestyle for our children. Not only are mud kitchens a great outdoor activity that allows kids to be messy in a somewhat controlled environment, but they are working on and strengthening skills such as their imagination, communication, fine motor skills etc etc etc.
Our old mud kitchen has seen so much use and Lilly in particular has spent countless hours in front of it. It was super simple to build using some scrap timber I had laying around. I made a simple frame for an old sink to sit on that we picked up second hand and added a few shelves underneath for storage.
The only thing I didn’t really consider is how dirty it would be getting and that it would need regular cleaning which more or less involved taking everything off/out of it, standing it on its side and hosing it down. Sometimes I’d have to scrub it with a stiff brush to get all the dirt, leaves, bark you name it out of the sink drainage holes. While not a huge pain, it definitely gets annoying after the 100th time.
I knew that when I built the new mud kitchen, I wanted it to have enough space for all 3 kids to be able to play together and not get in each other’s way. This meant the structure would be far bigger and more or less impossible to move once constructed so I knew having sinks that could be removed for cleaning was going to be the most important feature.
Being an outdoor structure, I also wanted to minimise the amount of places crawlies and critters (mainly spiders) could hide. I designed the frame to ensure the storage area below the bench would be completely open from the front without support posts for spiders to hide behind as well as fully enclosing the back and sides.
The one thing Casey kept asking for when we discussed making a new mud kitchen was bench space, bench space, bench space! Rather than put in three sinks, we opted for leaving one out. This means not only does the kitchen have one huge bench for creating, there is also a decent amount of bench space either side of each sink. These are just stainless-steel bowls from Kmart with a decent sized lip which allows them to sit in the holes I cut out of the bench.
I also wanted to have a solid backboard above each bench. Not only would this provide a place to put more storage, but it also acts as a visual barrier for the unused side of the house which will be used for storage. I also added 3 small shelves to the left side and a shelf running the full length of the open bench. These are attached with the offcuts of the posts and cut to 45 degree angles that double as support for the shelves.
There are also a dozen stainless steel hooks on the underside of the long shelf for hanging smaller pots, pans utensils etc. I could stock a small kitchen shop with the number of spoons and whisks I have run over with the lawnmower because they did not have a home in the old mud kitchen.
I finished the mud kitchen with 2 coats of Johnstone’s water based natural decking oil and left it for 24hrs to cure. Once fully dry I attached an old blackboard picture frame we had in the cupboard from our wedding back in 2012!
Casey and the kids were ready to start moving all the pots, pans, utensils etc into their new home before it was even dry! We also added our Plum Picnic Table which I also stained with the same Johnstone’s Natural Decking Oil. I actually nailed the lids down so it functions as a normal picnic table. We got it on big clearance for $49!
I’m stoked with how it turned out and it’s already bringing so much joy to the kids and it’s seeing heaps of use. All up, the project cost just over $400 for all of the materials. It was completed over two days from start to finish.
For those of you wanting to replicate this mud kitchen or create one similar, the dimensions are 2m x 2m in length, 1.1m high, with a bench height of 0.5m. I experimented with different heights for the bench and found that 0.5m was perfect for Lilly (6) and Elliot (3) but still accessible so that Audrey (18months) can reach everything on the bench.
Materials I used were:
- 7 x 4.8m 70×35 H3 treated pine structural
- 20 x 3.6m 90×22 H3 treated pine decking
- Approx. 200 50mm treated pine screws
- Approx. 1L Johnstone’s natural decking oil water based
- 2 x stainless-steel bowls (with 10mm+ lip)