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Lauren Hylton had always loved the colorful play kitchens she saw on Pinterest. “Even before I had my daughter, I thought: If I ever have a little girl, I’m totally going to make one for her,” she recalls. And years later, she did, after discovering that the miniature kitchens can often be scooped up for just $50 on Facebook Marketplace.

The first one she bought was originally from IKEA, but the previous owner had given it up after her mint green spray paint DIY hadn’t turned out quite so great. Hylton took it apart, sanded it down, and painted it bold pink to match her 2-year-old’s bedroom. Marble contact paper was the key to the faux countertop and accessories, and decorative window film made the oven and microwave doors look a little more special. When it was finished, her daughter immediately loved it.

“Sometimes you see things on Pinterest and you’re like, Is it really going to look that good?” she says. “And this absolutely was worth the effort.” So much so that she was inspired to buy another kitchen to customize, this time for her niece.

Her sister’s kitchen is accented with pops of lemon yellow, so she picked the perfect hue to match, since the miniature setup would be kept in that room. This time around, she was more confident in her DIY abilities, even creating a faux shiplap backsplash with pieces of wood to create a space that the 4-year-old now plays in constantly. 

For both kitchens, she was frugal in the transformation so she could splurge on accessories that took them both to the next level: realistic pans and utensils, patterned bowls, faux appliances, and, of course, a plant or two to make them feel a little more elevated.

The effort of customizing is well worth it for Hylton, not just because it’s an opportunity to put her skills to use, but because of the reactions the play kitchens have yielded from the little ones. “They’re so tickled that it’s something made just for them,” she says. And she’s not done customizing quite yet—she has another niece in need of her very own kitchen, as soon as Hylton scores one on Facebook Marketplace. This time, she’s thinking lavender. 

Introducing Domino’s new podcast, Design Timewhere we explore spaces with meaning. Each week, join editor-in-chief Jessica Romm Perez along with talented creatives and designers from our community to explore how to create a home that tells your story. Listen now and subscribe for new episodes every Thursday.