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I bought my daughter her first kitchen for Christmas 2011 just after her second birthday. The kitchen was a hit, however it wasn't the best quality kitchen so I decided for Christmas 2012 I would get her a good quality wooden kitchen as she loved the whole cooking role play. After trawling many different websites I had a couple of potential kitchens in my sights and when Early Learning Centre had a sale on and a 20% code at the same time it made my mind up and I purchased the wooden cottage kitchen.
--- Packaging and assembly ---
Luckily my daughter was out for the day with my mum when the kitchen was delivered as it came in the main box and not inside any other packaging so she would have seen exactly what it was had she been at home. The box was rather large and very heavy and I could only just manage to carry it and stash it at the back of the cupboard under the stairs to keep it out of the way until Christmas.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve and the task of assembling the kitchen was upon me. I'm not the greatest at DIY so enlisted some help from a friend who had a couple of hours to spare. Luckily his plans for after helping me weren't too important as it took the best part of three and a half hours (with a tea break included) for us both to assemble the kitchen fully, a little longer than the 45-60 minutes ELC state. After opening the box we were met with what seemed like hundreds of different pieces to construct. The instruction booklet was helpful and each piece of wood had a number which corresponded to the pictures in the book so it was just a case of organising everything then getting down to screwing each piece in place. Even though the whole assembly process was so long, it was worth it in the end and we were both pleased with what we achieved. Had I not had any help, I don't think I would have managed to put this together by myself even if I was the best at DIY as someone is needed to hold things in place etc. It is definitely a two person job.
--- The kitchen ---
Once the kitchen has been put together it looks fantastic. It is quite a big kitchen at approximately 95 centimetres high, 40 centimetres deep and 80 centimetres wide when the table isn't extended out, that adds on another 30 centimetres to the width when it is in use. My daughter has just celebrated her third birthday when she received it and it seemed to be the perfect size as she was slightly taller than it and could reach the top without any problems. I would imagine for younger children it could be a little tricky reaching the curtains and clock.
The back section of the kitchen contains a window with real curtains, every morning when I open the main lounge curtains my daughter has to open her kitchen curtains and the same again at bedtime, the curtains have to be closed. There are also a couple of coat hooks and a clock complete with turn able hands and a floral design. My daughter isn't really interested in the clock but I hope with time we could possibly use it when she is learning to tell the time. There are also a couple of shelves attached to the back piece. The paint design on the bottom of the back section is good as it is cream and pink squares and makes it look like the kitchen has been tiled.
The main counter is the perfect height for my three year old. It features a bowl sink with a tap that can move from side to side (just like our kitchen sink!) and two hobs. The counter has the light wood colour you would find in old country cottages and it complements the pastel colours of the rest of the kitchen well. Underneath the main counter is where the kitchen comes to life. There is a towel rail and three knobs, two for the hobs and one for the oven. There is a cupboard and oven that open up, they both open from the middle and when closed, the handle is in the shape of a heart. The doors were hard to open to begin with but now they've been opened and closed numerous times it is getting easier. The oven has a shelf perfect for pretend baking and also has a window at the front so you can see the food you are cooking inside.
On one side of the kitchen is a few shelves, these aren't very deep but perfect for leaving things like cups and saucers in to keep them out of the way. On the other side is a pull out counter. It has a couple of wheels on the end so it can simply be slid out when it's in use and slid back to store it out of the way when the kitchen isn't being played with. My daughter has no problems in pulling it out and pushing it back in.
Overall, the kitchen looks beautiful. The pastel shade colours give it a country feeling to it as the product name suggests. Everything is in proportion and as it is made from wood it is made to a very high quality, even with my dodgy DIY skills helping put it together!
--- In play ---
I wrapped the kitchen up on Christmas Eve and scattered the rest of my daughter presents in front of it. As my daughter was opening other wooden kitchen related presents I couldn't wait until she got to the main present to see her face. Once she opened the kitchen my daughters love of the kitchen began and it hasn't stopped growing since.
The kitchen didn't come with anything in the way of accessories, it is solely the kitchen. Early Learning Centre sell a number of wooden kitchen accessories but were quite pricey for the amount of items you get in the sets and although they would have matched the kitchen perfectly, I went for cheaper wooden alternatives. I think, with the high price tag of the kitchen, that some bits should have been included even if it was just a saucepan and a couple of pieces of food. So be aware that you'll have to purchase extra sets to make the kitchen playable.
My three year old has always loved various different role play situations and this kitchen is a perfect way for her to do her cooking and cleaning. I bought her a little apron to use when we do baking together but it's now being used on her kitchen and she has to wear it every time she cooks up a storm! She has a few different pots and pans to use alongside the kitchen and they always get washed up and put away in the cupboard when she has finished. With her old tatty, plastic kitchen, my daughter could make the hob make cooking noises by turning the dials and I think she anticipated this kitchen doing the same but when these dials are turned it simply makes clicking noises, it hasn't really bothered her though.
We have quite a few different accessories for the kitchen now and there isn't enough counter space for my daughter to do her 'prep' when she's cooking so the pull out counter is a fantastic idea. Without the counter my daughter would be chopping the fruit and veg in the sink, but she simply slides the extra counter out and has plenty of room for her chopping board and food mixer so she can get to work, so to speak! Without the pull out counter there would be limited storage space too, we usually keep the side out and then it can hold my daughter wooden tea pot and toaster, I have no idea where we would keep them without this.
--- Information ---
The Early Learning Centre wooden cottage kitchen is available to purchase from Early Learning Centre and online from amazon.co.uk, the full price is £150 but it is often reduced down to £120 and there are various 20% off ELC codes floating about so there isn't any need to pay full price.
The kitchen is recommended for children over the age of three years. Personally, I don't see any kind of hazards with the kitchen, there are no small bits to pose a choking hazard or any way in which they could hurt themselves. If anything, the kitchen may be a little too high for younger children but it's one of those toys that they can grow into.
--- Overall ---
This wooden cottage kitchen is both mine and my daughters favourite Christmas present. Although it was a massive pain in the backside to construct and took forever on one of the most important nights of the year, it was worth the trouble. The pastel shade colour scheme gives the kitchen a country type feel to it and the pink just gives it a girly edge. The build quality of all aspects is fantastic and I think it's a toy that will last years and years just like most other wooden toys. My daughter has had a ball playing with the kitchen and I believe she will continue to love it for some. I would have liked the kitchen to come with some kind of accessories but we can't have it all can we?! Recommended by both, me and my daughter.