Friday, October 7, 2016

DIY Pretend Play Market

It's a big day as we share the first gift build in the Handbuilt Holiday series for 2016 and we're starting with this DIY pretend play market. 

diy pretend play market

Thank you for joining Ana White and myself for another year of Handbuilt Holiday gift builds.  Each year we come up with 12 gift projects you can build and give for the holidays and we have free plans for all of them!

handbuilt holiday series 2016

We always begin in October with the bigger, more complicated builds so you have time to complete them before the holidays roll around.  Ana has the plans for this pretend play market today, isn't it the cutest idea and so versatile too!

diy pretend play market

Ana designed the rolling counter display to fit perfectly under the stationary shelving.  Pull it out and you have a checkout counter, I added a chalkboard sign or spin it around and you have display shelves for more market shopping!

diy pretend play market cubbies

To be honest I might have to steal this piece for my craft space.  Or even for kids books or toy storage, truly it's not just a play market, it could serve many purposes.

diy pretend play market

The rolling counter display shelf fits four small crates perfectly.

diy pretend play market rolling counter small crates

On the reverse side I used eye hooks to hold a chalkboard sign.  The eye hooks also make perfect little finger pulls when rolling the counter out.  

diy pretend play market rolling counter chalkboard sign

The chalkboard sign is 1/4" plywood mounted to 1x2s at top and bottom with hooks screwed into the top:

diy pretend play market rolling counter chalkboard sign

diy pretend play market

What is it about bins that make us so happy?  More bins please!

diy pretend play market bins

Ana has the free plans here but please be sure to read through my building tips below before beginning.

Note Ana's plans call for 1x12 boards but I used plywood only because I like to build with what I have on hand.  Boards are much more user friendly but plywood will work too.

diy pretend play market shelf dividers

When attaching the shelf dividers cut scrap wood to use as spacers, this way all the dividers are guaranteed to be in the exact same spot and bonus no measuring!

tongue and groove front panel

I built the rolling counter piece a little different than the plans again because I had these tongue and groove boards on hand.  The front panel is cut to length with 45 degree beveled edges.  I used 1x1 square molding at the corners to secure the boards together and provide stability for the unit.

tongue and groove front panel

Above you can see the 45 degree bevel.  3 - 1x6 tongue and groove cut to length plus a 1x3 for extra height.  Be sure to leave a 3/4" space at the bottom of the 1x1 in order to fit the base piece.

tongue and groove front panel

Attach the front panel to the top using pocket holes.

rolling counter shelf interior

Above you can see the interior of the rolling counter piece.  The shelf is 1/2" plywood notched at the corners and attached with wood glue and finish nails.

pretend play market build

I always leave the backing off until the project is painted, it's much easier to access those cubbies with open access from the back.

decoart outdoor living poolside

The pretend play market is painted with DecoArt Americana Decor Outdoor Living exterior / interior paint in poolside.  It gives a great, durable eggshell finish without a top coat.  I only used one coat and got great coverage.

pretend play market backing

Paint the backing separately and then attach using wood glue and finish nails.

pretend play market chalkboard side panels

I opted to add framed out chalkboard side panels (mostly because I ran out of paint :( ) but it's a fun spot to chalk too.  Use flat moulding mitered to create a long rectangle and attach with wood glue and finish nails.

pretend play market free plans

Thanks for following along with our series.  Be sure to check back every Friday through Christmas for a new gift build idea!

A few other kids sized pretend play pieces you might be interested in:

kids pretend playstand boutique

kids pretend playstand menagerie

This menagerie was meant for animals but it a great idea for market style storage bins.

kids pretend playstand patisserie

Or how about a sweet shop?  Free plans for the patisserie here.


  1. This is great build Jaime! And you're right, while my granddaughter would love this, I could use one in my craft room! Pinned!

  2. This is so cool! I LOVE this series and look forward to it every year! Don't have little ones at home anymore, but have been pinning away on my 'Future Grandbabies Fun' board! I know you all do other gift ideas too though, and items that could be repurposed in many ways... Eager to see all the posts in this series... You guys ROCK!

  3. I just love this idea! I think my son would still love to play with it.

  4. Where did you get all the cute pretend food and pastries?