We’ve had a mud kitchen in the garden since the girls were really young, they used to have a bath in it when we came home from a day at the beach. Stu knocked it together from a sink I picked up, for free, on Facebook Marketplace and some scraps of wood we had lying around. It was basic, but entertained Nancy and Eula with water play, potion making, mud pies and more.
Fast forward a few years, the garden has been through quite a transformation and the old Mud Kitchen had been taken apart to store whilst we worked out how we wanted to use the different spaces.
Back in March, on a quiet day at home, the girls asked my husband if they could have their Kitchen back, one thing led to another and it was decided it was time for an upgrade. The first version was made when Nancy was about 3, so now, at 9, it was much too short for her.
Nancy and Eula sketched out what they would like for version 2 and Stu cracked on. I wasn’t a part of these plans at all and I tried my best to calmly put my trust in their vision. The garden is my most favourite space at home + I did have my concerns that some ugly monstrosity would appear, especially as it was being made for absolutely free.
I need not have worried though, it was very quickly apparent we were all on the same page, design wise.
We always have spare wood hanging around, off cuts from this and that project, our big shed (the black wood wall behind the bones of the mud kitchen above) was made entirely from free pallets.
The main structure for the kitchen needed to be solid, as we were using an old Belfast sink that has been at the back of the garage for years. A neighbouring house was being gutted, due to a huge leak and they had piles of timber outside which we could help ourselves to.
Pallet wood was used to clad the strong frame, creating 3 cupboards, which double up as ovens. I love how higgledy-piggledy it is and the lovely tones of the wood.
This is the end of the garden which is home to our garden table and this space in front of the fence was previously used for just a wood store. I didn’t really want the mud kitchen at the deck end, so we made room and it works perfectly here. I love how the stacked wood surrounds it, blending it into the garden.
A lot of “cooking” goes on in this kitchen and the girls require fresh ingredients for their discerning cafe customers!
They know the plants they can and can’t cut from around the garden (currently Rosemary, Scabiosa, Forsythia, Currant Bushes, Perriwinkle, Japanese Rose) and as the seasons progress they’ll have more choice. I also get talked into buying them sacrificial plants from time to Thyme!
The top little oven has been a big hit with Eula, for her mud pies. This blue Le Creuset casserole pan used to be my Granny Eula’s. It has a cracked lid and was relegated to the garden several years ago. They’ve always used it for making concoctions, but now it has a suitable home and I love that it can still be used, I can still remember the meals my Gran served to me in it.
All of the pots and pans and bits here are items that passed their best and moved outside, ex-camping kit, a beautiful Hilda Carr mug, which I sold at the Alice in Scandiland Shop, who’s handle got broken off.
The Belfast sink isn’t plumbed in at the moment, we’ve been playing with ideas of adding a tap and some kind of pressure fed piping/ water storage, but most likely we won’t bother, simple is so often better. We keep an old pan underneath the plug hole, which catches excess water and then Nancy and Eula water the plants with it.
We came up with a few hob set ups for the top, but all of them felt like a compromise on the space available for the varied uses the girls find for this area. In the end we’ve left it completely changeable, this aluminium plate makes a great place to build a kettle or pan of soup, but can easily be stashed away in the cupboard if the worktop becomes the counter in their cafe.
Off cuts from peg rails I used at the shop make great hanging storage. I sell these, they have so many wonderful uses. You can take a look at the range here.
They have a real knife, which is one of their favourite parts of the kitchen, I grew up in the countryside and always had Penknives, free use of saws and all kinds of “hazardous” equipment. It’s good for children to get used to these things from an early age, in exactly the same way as they have been laying and lighting our wood burner since they were old enough to understand our instructions.
Honestly, this kitchen is better appointed than my own in the house! I asked Stu to make this chopping board, which works as an extension to the worktop, sitting over the sink. It’s a piece of Beech, which for a time, was our splashback in the kitchen.
I’m yet to write the blog about our new deck, I just haven’t found the time to commit to it yet (I shade started, but the first draft got deleted!) But one of the questions I get asked a fair bit is “What about the children, where do they play?”. This always slightly confuses me, I think it is in reference to us getting rid of the small area of “grass”, which was 90% muddy mess.
The girls haven’t lost out at all, I guess in part because of the communal grass square at the front, but also because they will make fun whatever the setting, but the addition of this mud kitchen has definitely added even further to their enjoyment of the garden.
For those wondering where all the mess is, fear not, it does get absolutely lagged with mud and soggy pans full of grass cuttings and “perfume”, but cleaning it all up is part of the fun, fortunately both Nancy and Eula enjoy tidying and scrubbing as much as the cooking and serving their homemade treats. We use natural washing up liquid for cleaning and fun with bubbles, Fairy Liquid is incredibly bad for the environment and we don’t want to harm the plants and animals that we love to encourage to cohabit in this outdoor space.
Eula and I had a lovely afternoon in the garden today taking some pictures to share with you, whilst Stu and Nancy were off surfing.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve written and shared here on the blog, over 4 months and the longer you go, the harder it feels to jump back in. I hope you’ve found this interesting and perhaps you feel inspired make something for your own children. Not a penny was spent to make this mud kitchen, it just goes to show what can be done with some scraps of wood and a little imagination. If you don’t happen to have an antique Belfast sink hanging around in your garage (I mean, who actually does?! Our garage makes me laugh, the random treasures that are hiding in there) then you can usually pick one up on Facebook Marketplace for about £30ish. You could also use an old washing up bowl, a bucket or old kitchen sink with drainer attached.
Don’t forget to pin this blog post, to come back to in the future and I hope you’re having a lovely Bank Holiday Weekend.
Thanks for stopping by, Alice x