So sorry I’ve been MIA again folks. I’ve been busy searching for the perfect Christmas present for my little man and have only recently found it.
Sprogzilla loves cupboards and drawers and he particularly enjoys emptying the ones in our kitchen. He also seems to find our pots and pans particularly fascinating. Obviously this is not ideal, so it only seemed natural to buy him a little culinary corner of his own complete with all the trimmings.
I had some quite fussy criteria. First, there needed to be plenty of cupboards/doors and a drawer or two would be nice. I wanted a sink and a hob for some imaginative play when he’s a bit older. I loved the idea of a washing machine as although Sprogzilla doesn’t have access to ours, I know he’d love trying a different type of door! Lastly, I wanted the whole thing to be wooden as it looks more tasteful and I’m really not keen on having such a huge chunk of plastic in my house. The budget was around £150.
The first one I found (and immediately fell in love with) was the Little Tikes Cooking Creations Premium Kitchen. It had almost everything on my list – there was no drawer, but it did have a washing machine! It was a bit over budget at £180, but user reviews were excellent and raved on about the build quality. I managed to find a couple of user videos on youtube and that’s when I noticed a huge problem. The doors opened down rather than to the side and being made of heavy wood, I was worried Sprogzilla would pull them onto himself. There was also the concern that he could climb on them and hurt himself, at the very least he would probably damage the doors. I was so disappointed as I thought this would the “the one”. I even emailed Little Tikes to ask if the doors could be hinged sideways, but I’ve not heard back from them.
Update: I received the following reply shortly after publishing this post:
Dear Ms D****,
Thank you for your email.
The doors are not pre-assembled to the body of the kitchen unit, and may, if you want, be adapted to be hinged on the side. However please note the product has been tested in the prescribed fixing method only.
We would not be able to accept any recourse on this product if modifications have been made to the doors.
Sadly it’s a bit late, but nice of them to get back to me anyway. If anyone is reading this and wondering if the doors can be attached to open sideways, now you know the answer.
And now back to the original post…..
I grabbed a catalogue from the Great Little Trading Company that had popped through my letterbox a couple of weeks ago. I’d kept it because I’d seen a rather nice wooden kitchen and it had a discount code for 15% off making the price a reasonable £132. I loved the look of it, particularly the simple colour scheme, oodles of storage space and roomy worktop. I would have been very pleased to have this on display in my home. However, I was frustrated by it being exclusive to GLTC and thus being unable to find any user reviews or videos. After much research, I discovered it’s actually a KidKraft in a custom colourway and it’s even a bit cheaper than buying the branded version. Whilst I was doing my research, this kitchen remained my favourite right until the very end.
Talking of KidKraft, I also found a wooden kitchen in a rather vibrant retro red. I wasn’t keen on the colour initally, or the silver plastic accents, but at £110 using an amazon voucher it was the cheapest yet. This made it particularly appealing to Sprogdaddy, who is considerably tighter with the cash than I am, hehe. It also commanded excellent reviews and there were plenty of videos on youtube. I also came to like the colour after looking at it a few times and it was a close second to the GLTC kitchen mentioned above. My biggest gripe however, was that it’s quite a bit smaller than the others I’ve looked at. I know that Sprogzilla isn’t exactly Mr Tall, but I wanted something that he’ll still be able to comfortably use in a few years.
Annoyingly, none of the wooden kitchens had even a single drawer. The only exception was another KidKraft retro model which has been discontinued. I was prepared to buy the right kitchen second-hand if necessary, but couldn’t find one of these locally. Also, the drawer was at the bottom, which means Sprogzilla would be able to step into it and potentially have a mishap (this nearly happened with our TV cabinet!). KidKraft also make an attractive kitchen with a washing machine, but just like the Little Tikes one, the doors open downwards!
Ideally, I wanted a wooden kitchen, but I opted to keep my options open and looked at a few plastic ones too. The Step2 range seemed to be the best and again, there were plenty of reviews and videos. All of them had drawers – why can’t wooden kitchens have this simple feature? Like many plastic kitchens, this range had various lights and sounds along with some bundled accessories. Nice, if a bit gimmicky. My favourite was the “Custom” model at around £115, it’s quite compact but still manages to squeeze in the necessary features. It even has a handy spice rack! But ultimately I just couldn’t get around the sight of such a plastic monstrosity, and it wasn’t any cheaper than the wooden varieties, so this was quickly ruled out.
During my search, I came across several modular wooden kitchens – you can buy each appliance separately and mix up the positioning. They were all gorgeous and sturdily built, generally being designed for commercial use in schools and nurseries. This unfortunately meant a premium price tag came attached and I simply couldn’t afford £70+ per appliance. Except by a stroke of luck, I came across an eBay store called netpricedirect. They had an attractive, brightly-coloured, rubber-wood fridge for only £36.95! Along with the listing was a photo of the whole range – adding a microwave, sink unit, washing machine and oven! I checked their other listings and was gutted to find the only other appliance they had was the microwave, at an impressive £16.95.
The brand was Viga, a Chinese company I’d never heard of before. Turns out they make some very nice wooden toys, but I couldn’t find any mention of their kitchen range. I found their website, but you have to setup a trade account and login to view their products. In my frustration, I returned to eBay and found that netpricedirect have their own website. I had a look there too, but only the fridge and microwave were listed. As a last ditch attempt, I emailed them to ask if they might be stocking the rest of the range.
Imagine my surprise when I got an email five minutes later to say they had received a shipment that day and I should check the website for updates tomorrow. There was no further detail, so I wasn’t sure what they would be stocking exactly or how much it would cost. I decided to check the website later that evening and was excited to see that it had been updated. They had the other appliances! Not only that, they were each less than £36! I raced into the bathroom to interrupt Sprogdaddy giving Sprogzilla his bedtime bath, I was so excited!
I placed the order and then started to worry. Was netpricedirect legit? Was the quality going to be sub-par? Was this too good to be true? Thankfully they do a free next day courier service, so I didn’t have to worry for long. The delivery came this morning and I tore open the boxes to check the quality and ensure all the parts were there. Absolutely no problems whatsoever. Everything was well packaged and accounted for, the appliances look fantastic, durable and easy to put together.
I can’t tell you how chuffed I am. £160 for a high quality piece of kit that’s hopefully going to last us several years. We’re going to put it together when Sprogzilla has gone to bed on Christmas Eve. I’m so looking forward to seeing his little face when he sees it!
Now I just have to find some accessories that will do it justice. I’d love some matching wooden pots and pans, but my goodness they don’t come cheap! Looks like I’ll be glued to eBay for the next few weeks….
Update (January 2012):
It appears that Viga have redesigned their modular kitchen and netpricedirect are in the process of phasing in the new version on their site. This means that once stock of the existing design is sold out, they won’t be getting any more in. If you are considering buying the whole set, I’d advise waiting until there is full availability of the new design, otherwise you’ll get a mismatched kitchen. At time of writing, only the new microwave and cooker are available.
If you want to know what Sprogzilla thought of his kitchen on Christmas Day, have a look at my post ….And That Was Christmas.