mud-kitchen

How to Build a Mud Kitchen: 4 Simple DIY Methods

Get Stuck in the Mud with These 4 Ways to Build a Mud Kitchen!

It’s not always practical to get out and about in the countryside, but playing with a mud kitchen can help children learn about and appreciate the great outdoors. 

We’ve created this fantastic how-to guide to help you design and build a mud kitchen. There are options for all DIY levels: you can make a mud kitchen from scratch, use leftover bricks, reinvent old furniture, or even upcycle wooden pallets!

Read on to discover 4 easy ways to build a mud kitchen:

1) Build a Mud Kitchen From Scratch

When it comes to making a mud kitchen from scratch, the job can be divided into three main parts: building the frame, fitting the splashback and personalising the kitchen.

For this DIY mud kitchen method, you can use any type of timber (as long as it’s suitable for outdoor use) and get creative with the design. 

Take inspiration from existing mud kitchens and draw up a plan before you start to build. For this ‘how to’ section, we are going to be building a mud kitchen frame that is 2 ft tall and 4 ft long. 

Materials You’ll Need: 

  • Timber: use standard 2 x 4 boards or fence posts (as many as necessary to make the frame of your design)
  • A stainless steel sink/plastic washing up bowl/metal bowl
  • Wood screws
  • Paint or exterior stain

Here are the 7 steps for building a mud kitchen from scratch:

1. Cut Your Timber and Assemble the Frame

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Lindsay L, RD (@theleangreenbean)

The aim is to make a basic table frame: 

  1. First, create the frame for the mud kitchen’s tabletop. Saw one 2 x 4 board in half. The two pieces will form the length of the mud kitchen tabletop.
  2. Cut four shorter pieces, all the same length. These will form the two sides of the tabletop and two supportive struts inside the frame of the tabletop.
  3. If you want to have a built-in sink, make sure the two supportive struts are distanced in a way that will support a basin (as in the photo above).
  4. Drill pilot holes, then use wood screws to connect this tabletop frame together.
  5. Attach front legs and back legs to form a table. If you want to add a splashback, use longer pieces of wood for the back legs so that they extend above the tabletop.

2. Add the Cooktop

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Suzanne🔨Home Decor and Budget DIY s (@this.that.and.diy)

  1. Add boards to the surface of the tabletop to create a flat work surface.
  2. Leave a section uncovered if you want to drop a rectangular basin in for a sink. 

3. Install the Kitchen Sink 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by C L A I R (@minitribe_playgroup)

Now you’ve got the basic design, it’s time to get imaginative and personalise the mud kitchen. 

If you’ve left a space for a rectangular kitchen sink, you can simply drop the basin into place now. 

Otherwise, if you want to install a bowl as a sink (as in the mud kitchen pictured above): 

  1. First measure and trace around the outside of the bowl.
  2.  Adjust your measurements slightly for the lip of the bowl – it should be held in place by the lip when dropped into the hole.
  3. Cut the hole using a jigsaw, then drop the bowl into it. 

Some mud kitchens include a working sink by hooking taps up to a hose – something to consider if you want to go the extra mile!

4. Add the Splashback 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Play Adventures (@our_play_adventures)

If you used longer pieces of wood for the back legs, you will have a frame where you can attach a splashback. 

  1. Cut boards to size so that they will fit onto the splashback frame
  2. Clamp your first board in place, on the front side of the back legs so that it stays steady.
  3. Lay spacers on top of this first board to keep the gaps consistent, then lay the second board for your splashback and clamp it into place.
  4. Once you’re happy with the positioning, attach the boards to the legs by screwing them in place. Remove the spacers.

5. Go Over the Mud Kitchen with a Sander

To make sure all surfaces are safe and smooth to touch, go over your outdoor mud kitchen with a sander

6. Get Creative with Finishing Touches

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Lacey (@alifemoreorganized)

This is where you can really get creative with the mud kitchen.

Firstly, you could paint the entire mud kitchen in your child’s favourite colour, or leave it as is. This also might be a good time to coat the mud kitchen with any protective, weatherproof sealant.

Draw burners on the cooktop by tracing circles and filling them with black paint. Oven dials can be made from leftover timber to give the mud kitchen more interactive elements.

Then, there are loads of ways to accessorise a mud kitchen’s basic design: you could add hooks, utensil racks, baskets, drawers and cupboards. A lot of mud kitchens have a bottom shelf for keeping pans on, which could be an extra addition. 

If you’re on a tight budget, pound shops and thrift stores are a great place to find cheap and cheerful kitchen utensils that will more than suffice for making mud pies!

2) Build a Mud Kitchen From Bricks

Using bricks is an easy way to build a basic mud kitchen – perfect if you’ve got some lying around left over from another project.

Stack Bricks to Create Mud Kitchen Legs

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Calli⋒Little Farm Montessori (@little.farm.montessori)

  1. Make 2 stacks of bricks, creating two pillars to support the mud kitchen. Depending on how big the bricks are, you may need just 2 for each leg, or you may need up to 24 bricks in total. Change the direction of the bricks with each level to make the mud kitchen’s legs more sturdy.
  2. Next, add a thick plank of wood on top for the mud kitchen worktop. 
  3. You can use a jigsaw to cut a hole for a sink, or leave the work surface in one piece.
  4. There you have it – one easy mud kitchen! 

3) Build a Mud Kitchen From Old Furniture

There are loads of ways to use old furniture and recycled materials to make a mud kitchen. Here are two of our favourites:

Use Old Desks and Tables

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Georgie 🌱🕺✨♓️ (@georgiepettit)

Basically, any old furniture you can get your hands on can be made into a mud kitchen!

The above design is made from a salvaged desk. Get creative with orientating the furniture in unconventional ways to create surprising and original designs for the mud kitchen.

Create Shelving with Upcycled Shutters

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Erica Wells, RD (@awastenotkindoflife)

Anything goes when it comes to making a mud kitchen out of upcycled furniture. Instead of panels for the splashback, why not upcycle window shutters? These can be painted in your choice of colour and used to hang a huge number of utensils as pictured above. The best thing about this outdoor mud kitchen idea is there are no DIY skills required! 

Use Bookcases, Cabinets and Dressers

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sarah H (@colour.outsidethelines)

You can use as little or as much imagination as you like when it comes to building a mud kitchen. If you can find old cabinets and dressers, they’re pretty much ready-to-go mud kitchens and require very little additional work!

4) Build a Mud Kitchen From Recycled Pallets 

Wooden pallets continue to have a multitude of uses in the world of DIY, so of course they’re perfect for building a mud kitchen! Here are just a couple of ways they can be utilised:

Use Two Wooden Pallets 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Mrs Jones’ Home 🏠 (@homejones2021)

Use one pallet for the back of the mud kitchen (including the splashback) and cut the other in half for the front of the kitchen. Add a worktop and you’re done!  

Paint the outdoor mud kitchen in your child’s favourite colour and accessorise. Due to the design of pallets, they make it really easy to hang pots and other utensils from the slats.

Create a DIY-Free Mud Kitchen

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Little Green House Childcare (@littlegreenhousechildcare01)

You can use pallets on their own, with no additional DIY, as a basic foundation surface for a simple low-level mud kitchen.

Make Mud Kitchen Shelving Using Pallets

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Home, life and play (@our_family_antics)

Wooden pallets can be upcycled and secured to a wall as pictured above to create a mud kitchen shelf. Wooden pallets can be used to for storing pots, pans and utensils. 

FAQs

What are the benefits of a mud kitchen? 

Outdoor play is great for kids, and allowing your child to plaster themselves in dirt in their own mud kitchen actually has a range of benefits! As a social tool, mud kitchens provide a space for open ended play and communication, helping to develop your child’s self esteem.

Squashing mud through fingers is a form of sensory play, meaning it helps to establish important nerve connections in the brain. It also stimulates creativity and imaginative play, providing an enriching learning environment for practising different real-life scenarios. 

Finally, a mud kitchen can help your child connect with the natural world

If you’re looking for some additional, educational activities to do with the kids, I recommend checking out this page on Backyard Astrology.

Are germs a problem in mud kitchens? 

Contrary to popular belief, a sterile environment isn’t the best environment for young kids. Research conducted in the last few years has shown that bacteria on the surface of the skin can be beneficial, and exposure during early childhood actually primes the immune system – reducing the likelihood of your child developing allergies. 

Outdoor play with mud in a mud kitchen can also release a bacteria which increases the production of serotonin, helping to soothe and calm your child. 

In short, there’s no need to worry about germs! 

What do you need for a mud kitchen? 

Anything you no longer use in your own kitchen can find a home in the outdoor mud kitchen. Inspect any utensils before putting them in the mud kitchen however, checking that they won’t pose a hazard to your children.

Possible utensils to add to the mud kitchen include: 

  • Wooden spoons
  • Spatulas
  • Baking moulds
  • Cupcake trays
  • Ladles
  • Pots, pans and basins

A large collection of plastic jars can come in handy for storing any gathered “ingredients” for mud pies such as pine cones, pebbles and twigs. 

While mud kitchens are designed to be messy, it may help to have a garden hose nearby to wash down the unit after a productive cooking session. Mud cakes can get baked on if left for a long time!

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