When my daughter became mobile, one of the biggest changes I noticed immediately, was how difficult working in the kitchen became. She constantly wanted to be in there with me, and I had this recurring nightmare that I would trip over her and spill or drop something hot or heavy on her. I know right? awful. As she got older, her desire to be in the kitchen grew as she became more curious about what I was doing up there on that counter! In our korean home I was able to put up a gate to keep her out, but once we moved to Hawaii, our new kitchen was open concept. I, like Tati, loved the idea of involving my girl in safe kitchen tasks, cooking and doing dishes, but I was uncomfortable with her balance on a chair. I loved the idea of a kitchen helping tower, but had a hard time swallowing the price. As we have access to the tools and lumber necessary to make our own, my husband and I gathered the supplies and this tutorial from Ana White, and got to work.
Neither of us are particularly handy people, and we had limited tools, so we adapted the plans slightly to fit our comfort level and needs. It was incredibly simple! It adjusts to four height levels, and the platform can be lifted out to flatten the entire tower, making it easy to store under a bed, or in a closet. Materials for the entire thing cost about $30. We had the paint on hand 🙂
Detailed, user friendly instructions can be found here. We skipped the arches, and instead just used straight 1x3s for the top rails on all 4 sides. We also skipped the “tip-resistant kit” because our daughter is a cautious/ gentle child. If you think your child will rock the tower, I wouldn’t skip this step.
For lumber, I chose the cheapest wood the lumber yard had. It was pressurized, and sturdy, but not “pretty”. Personally I loved the emphasized grain in the wood.
It required a good sanding to avoid any splinters, and then I painted it with 2 coats of white interior gloss paint. I stained the platform with a medium chestnut wood stain. After the paint dried, I used a palm sander to “distress” the edges and finish. Once sanded and dusted, I applied two coats of spray gloss varnish to the entire piece. I created the faux “W” stencil using painters tape (for our last name) and painted it with a turquoise acrylic craft paint.
In the end we LOVE our kitchen helper! I love that we were able to personalize it to fit with our decor and our needs, and your can’t beat the price tag! We use it multiple times a day, and I literally can’t imagine our day to day lives without it!
Don’t be afraid to give this tutorial a try, even if you are a serious woodworking newbie! If you don’t have the tools, your local Home depot rents them. Best of luck!! Share with us your experiences if you have made one of these yourself!