Many of us are considering play kitchens this holiday season, and this can be a tough decision. It's a big chunk of money, and you want to be sure that the kitchen will be both fun to play with and last for years. I asked Carrin of Down to Earth Toys about the difference between the various wooden kitchens.
Kitchens made in the USA - all these sinks have removable stainless steel bowls.
Little Colorado is the least expensive of the brands made in the USA. Little Colorado kitchens are made of pine, but they use MDF for the backs and counter surfaces.
Little Colorado Child's Kitchen ($183.95)
There is an optional door window for an additional five dollars. The measurements are 24"W x 14"D x 34"H, which is pretty standard size. It arrives fully assembled, but allow a few weeks for delivery. The matching refrigerator($161.95)has little shelves on the door. A microwave ($63.95), pantry ($129.95)and washing machine with a turning tub($162.95) are also available.
Elves & Angels kitchens are made of pine with formaldehyde-free plywood for the backs. Elves and Angel kitchens require some assembly. They are finished non-toxic linseed oil.
Julianna's Kitchen ($206.90)
As you can see, the styles are very similar, but Julian's kitchen has more realistic round burners rather than X's. They are painted on. Christina's Kitchen ($185.00) has no shelf, but it is a little wider (28") with space to chop vegetable or mix a cake.
Sylvie's Kitchen ($245.00) is also 28" wide, but has two shelves. The matching Jacob's Icebox ($174.95) has inside shelves, but no door shelves.
Willow Toys kitchens are made of solid pine. They are finished with a natural oil finish. The finish is available in an aromatherapy lavender scent or in unscented. There are two basic styles.
Ivy's Kitchen ($229.00) is more traditional.
Liam's Kitchen ($225.00) has a more contemporary look.
Each style has a matching refrigerator. Devin's Icebox ($179.00) goes with Ivy's kitchen, and the Willow Icebox goes with Liam's Kitchen ($179.00).
Sandy's Kitchen ($185.00) is the basic model with no shelves.
Camden Rose kitchens are beautiful,pine-free and more expensive. They are available at Palumba.
A Simple Hearth ($349.99) is made of cherry with walnut and birch accents.
The shelves inside both the stove and the Simple Fridge ($299.99) are made of metal. There is a cutting board that slides out. The BEEautiful Hearth ($289.99) is simply the same kitchen without the hutch. You can add the hutch ($69.99) later. You can save a little by buying a refrigerator-kitchen combination.
The Gourmet Kitchen ($219.99) has a separate stove and sink. This is good for keeping two children busy.
Camden Rose's more affordable new kitchen, the Camden Kitchen, is made of solid ash wood collected from the many thousands of trees infected by the Emerald Ash Borer. It ships flat and quickly snaps together for assembly. It has a contemporary style and two burners for more counter space.
Camden Kitchen ($249.99)
You could wing a Camden Kitchen, click here for details.
Imagine That Woodshop on Etsy takes custom orders for handmade wooden kitchens, but they are no longer taking orders for this holiday season.
Kitchens that are not made in the USA
Plan Toy kitchens are made in Thailand of environmentally-friendly rubber wood and finished with a non-toxic water-based dye.
Plan Kitchen Center ($269.99)
The stove ($159.98), sink/dishwasher ($199.99) and refrigerator with water/ice dispenser($245.99) are also available as separate pieces in bright colors. We have the washing machine ($199.99). It is OK, but the big rubber band that makes the machine turn tends to slide off. I can easily reach in and slip it back on, but I am also have small hands.
The European kitchens tend to be smaller. The counter height is 19 inches rather than 22.
The Vitamin Kitchen from Nathan at Oompa is both beautiful and colorful -- and expensive! The wooden pieces are modular to allow it to be set up in different ways. Nathan specializes in toys for preschools, and that is what this reminds me of. Because the height is a little smaller, so it is more suitable for children under three. It is made in Poland.
Finally, a German play kitchen. This kitchen is made from alder wood.
Children's Play Kitchen ($350.40)