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DIY: IKEA Duktig Functional Kitchen Makeover - With Plumbing!
When I was looking to convert a play kitchen into a functional kitchen for my son, I found tons of Ikea Duktig makeovers that were beautiful and included a working sink. However, most of the makeovers that I found involved using two bins for water on the shelves underneath the sink. I didn’t love this idea because I knew that my son would just splash and dump the water out if he could reach it. Also, I wanted to keep those shelves usable for actual storage, so I wanted to find a way to imitate a regular plumbing system that would keep the water hidden away. After lots of experimenting with different types of tubes and drains, I finally found a combination that works for the Ikea Duktig play kitchen! Just one thing to note: because the water sources will be in the back, the cabinet will stick out from the wall a bit.
If you’re looking to take on this project, don’t be intimidated by the idea of creating a mock plumbing system! The most tedious part of this makeover is really just the painting. After doing it myself, I really think it was worth it to not have any accessible water underneath in the cabinet. Hopefully you will, too!
1. Prep for Painting
Separate the kitchen parts into separate groups: (1) all the parts for the BASE CABINET; (2) the COUNTERTOP; (3) all the parts for the TOP SHELVING UNIT; (4) the hardware and accessories. If you’re looking to copy my design exactly, here are the parts you DON’T need and can throw out: the small door for the top cabinet, the cabinet handles, the faucet, and the stove (though I kept this to use with our sensory table!). Also, though you won’t see the cabinet legs or utensil hooks in my final project, I kept them for future use so I can adapt the cabinet as my son’s needs change.
2. Base Cabinet
- For the base cabinet, I used a Behr Ultra eggshell paint in the color Pencilpoint.
Sand, prime, and paint all of the EXTERIOR cabinet pieces, which includes the two sides (front and back), the doors (front and back), the front top bar, and the bottom base piece. For the bottom piece, however, you only need to paint the very front strip where the doors will sit, which you can do by sectioning off that strip with some painter’s tape. I chose to do it this way because I didn’t want my son’s food items to sit on any painted surfaces, so I left all of the interior natural. **Important: After painting, make sure to seal all of the paint with polycrylic to prevent chipping (considering how much toddler abuse it’s going to get!)
Once painted and sealed, the base cabinet can be assembled. If following this tutorial exactly, leave the right door off for now (or else you will be removing it again later when you work on the plumbing). If you want to add the cabinet legs for more height, you can do so. For my project, I left them off because my son is still very small.
For the cabinet doors, I used a modern door handle instead of the plastic ones that came with the set. These handles matched the ones I have in my own kitchen and fit perfectly into the pre-drilled holes. However, because the holes were recessed into the wood, I had to use a washer to push them forward.
As you will notice, the Duktig kitchen countertop has two large cutouts: one for the sink and one for the stove. Since I didn’t intend to use the fake stove, I wanted to create a usable surface for my son on the countertop. On other makeovers that I’ve seen, people just put a cutting board over the stove cutout, but I chose to patch it up permanently to make it more versatile. To do this, all you have to do it trace the shape of the hole onto a 1/2″ piece of scrap plywood, cut out the shape, and screw it to the countertop with some brackets (just make sure to line it up flush with the top of the countertop as best as you can). Once attached, fill in the gaps around the wood piece with some wood filler, sand it smooth, and seal with a little polycrylic to prevent the wood filler from flaking. The countertop is then ready to be installed onto the base cabinet.
For the countertop, I used a white, waterproof contact paper. To attach it, first cut it to the approximate size that you need. Peel off the paper liner and use a sturdy but soft object (such as a credit card wrapped with a paper towel) to smooth out air bubbles as you lay the contact paper down. I only applied the contact paper to the top of the countertop (rather than folding it down over the sides) since the corners of the countertop are rounded. (I didn’t want any awkward folded corners.) I trimmed off the excess contact paper around the edges and used white mineral paint to cover up the edge of the wood. Lastly, I cut out the hole for the sink with scissors.
4. Upper Shelving Unit
- For the upper shelving unit, I used a Rustoleum satin spray paint in White.
Sand, prime, and seal all pieces (front and back) of the upper shelving unit, which includes the two sides, and the top and bottom shelves. The inner dividers will already come white. Since I chose not to use the fake microwave door, I pried out the two black circle hinges from the shelves (Note: this was not easy and requires extreme care to not split the wood). I filled all the holes with wood filler prior to painting.
Once painted and sealed, the upper shelving unit can be assembled and attached to the countertop. I chose to include the gray bar that came with the kitchen so that I could use it for hanging things in the future, but I know that some people leave this off. However, just note that once you assemble the unit with or without the bar, it cannot be added or removed without disassembling the whole unit.
5. Add the Backsplash
To create a backsplash, measure the open space on the upper unit and cut an appropriate piece of wood or MDF (I used MDF). I attached the MDF to the back of the kitchen with some screws before adding the backsplash. However, I realized afterwards that it actually would have been easier to do the backsplash BEFORE attaching the wood. Either way, all you have to do is measure and cut the stick-on backsplash sheets so that the pattern overlaps and covers the whole piece of wood.
6. Time for the Plumbing
If you are using this same exact drain, you will need a 1.5″ hole saw to cut a hole in the sink. Cut out the hole in the center of the sink, then file off any extra pieces of plastic to make sure that the drain sits nice and flat in the sink. Since it’ll be a tight fit (and it’s not a real sink), you can push the drain in WITHOUT the top rubber gasket. Do use the bottom gasket and screw it on as tightly as you can. You can also caulk around the drain if you’d like, but I didn’t find it to be necessary since the drain was in so tightly.
Then, attach this flexible hose to the drain with the 1.5″ adapter as tightly as you can. Cut off the connector at the other end of the hose so that it will fit through your cabinet.
Using a 1.75″ hole saw, drill a hole through the back of the cabinet where the drain hose will go. You will want to position this hole so that the hose sits at a slight downward angle, which in my case, meant that I had to cut out a section of the shelf. You could also just remove this shelf entirely, but I wanted to have the extra shelf space so I chose to cut out the piece.
Before placing the sink into the cabinet, add a weatherproof strip to secure the sink in place and keep water from leaking underneath. Another option would be to permanently attach the sink to the countertop, but I wanted the ability to remove the sink for deep cleaning or in case the contact paper ever needed replacing. (Advice: When inserting the sink into the countertop, I recommend only doing it once and leaving it there. If you take the sink out, the weatherstripping may need to be replaced.) Once the sink is securely in place, feed the drain hose through the hole to the back of the cabinet.
Finally, it’s time to add the faucet.
I originally chose this automatic pump (which you see in the photos) because it has different volume settings so you can choose how much water you want to come out. I liked it, except for the fact that the spout folds down so my toddler was constantly closing it while the water was running and creating a mess. Instead, I now use this automatic water pump, which also allows for different settings but does not fold down. I actually like it much better!
Under the contact paper, you will feel two precut holes in the countertop that were intended for the fake faucet. If you are using this exact same automatic pump, you will need to poke a hole in the contact paper through the FRONT hole (closest to the sink). Then feed the pump tube through the hole. Lastly, drill a small hole (just slightly bigger than the tube) in the back of the cabinet, and feed the tube through the hole. You may need to cut off the little plastic end on the tube for it to fit.
7. Attach Your Water Supply
Last but not least, it’s time to set the water containers in place. When choosing my containers, I opted for 2 quart containers because I wanted something light that would be easy to clean and change frequently (so I could keep the water somewhat warm). Since the hose for the drain had to be set low, I cut the top off of the container for a better fit. On the other hand, since the hose of the water pump was higher up (and it needs to reach the bottom of the container), I simply raised the container up on a box. And that’s it!