Censored to protect the innocent
We had some supplemental accident insurance that rhymes with Schnaflac, and they sent us a check. Since neither my husband nor I had broken our arms, it only seemed fair to spend the money on A. She was already huge into pretend play, and loved the pretend kitchen at our nanny/daycare provider's house, so we got a similar one. We went with the Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen (LINK). Here's the photo from Step2:
That's pretty accurate to how it looks set up. Most of it comes assembled, except that the stickers were not on there. My husband applied these when my daughter and I were not home, which is probably good as I am certain he said a bunch of words she shouldn't have heard. Maybe some I shouldn't hear.
Once the stickers were on, though, it was awesome. We've had it for almost two years now. This is how much A liked it the first day we got it:
Yeah, I earned this.
And she loves it as much today. She mostly hid things in the baskets and put pans in the oven and on top when she was little, but at 3 she now has entire tea parties and pot holders and everything she makes is "too hot" and we can never ever eat it. She adores it, and getting extra dishes and stuff was a great decision. I'm a huge fan of pretend play, and it makes me happy to see that this toy encourages that so much.
The quality is very good - durable hard plastic, but no sharp edges to hurt little hands. The little pan and pot that come with it make noise when put on the "burner," and ours hasn't had the battery wear out yet. The little phone that came with this one has gotten even more mileage than the kitchen itself, it fits right in her hoodie pockets. The little plates, bowls, and cups that came with the kitchen fit perfectly in the little drying rack and the pretend sink, etc., and they've been used to hold many a snack at our house. I liked the way this was constructed in comparison with some of the other brands - the wood ones are very cute, but this is so easy to clean and durable.
Value: $120. Toy kitchens aren't cheap, yo, but they are a long-term toy. If I had to figure some dollar-to-hours played ratio, I'm guessing it would be a lot less than many of our cheaper toys.
Child entertainment level: 10/10. This is the toy that is the old standby in our house.
Practicality: 9/10. This is pretty small. Probably 2.5 feet across or so, and less than a foot deep. (This is off of eyeballing, not off of anything official.) It's easy to tuck into a corner, and easy to wipe down.