The Original Mud Kitchen founders share their thoughts on messy play!

We are over the moon to be interviewing the brilliant Natalie from Mud Kitchens for Junes #ourspacetocreate blog.

We are huge fans of messy play in our house and know how much joy Edith and Maggie get from their mud kitchen. It provides a really fun and creative outlet in a wonderfully safe environment.

Natalie runs Mud kitchens with her partner Joel. Together they are huge advocates of creative play and totally understand its importance in a child’s development. All of their kitchens are individually made to a very high standard and provide the perfect space to inspire children to use their imagination and get creative.

Natalie and Joel live in London with their son Luca.

Please could you tell us a bit about yourself and Mud Kitchens?

We have been making quality wooden Mud Kitchens for the last 4 years and are the ‘original’ Mud Kitchen company.  Joel started making them in our back garden, he then hired a single work bench and now we have our own work shop.  We both work full time at Mud Kitchens; Joel is the main designer and maker and I’m in charge of organising the orders, social media and customer service but some how I now help to make too and it’s actually my favourite part of the job.

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What inspired you to start Mud Kitchens?

I was nanny to a little girl who hated to get messy but loved making mud pies and potions in her garden; to encourage her I asked Joel to make a Mud Kitchen for her birthday to save the pots and pans! She absolutely loved it and soon we started getting orders from friends and family and gradually over the next couple of years Mud Kitchens grew and soon became the business that supports our family.  Working for ourselves has been the most rewarding thing but we have never worked so hard!

What do you think are the benefits of messy play?

There are numerous benefits of messy play and now the research is providing the scientific evidence to support it, theres been a huge movement in schools and early years education settings to including sensory play for young children.  Playing with Mud can make children healthier, happier and smarter, as well as being fun and helping to create happy childhood memories.  Connecting our children back to nature and getting them outside is something we think is essential in today’s society; outdoors messy play has been proven to reduce stress levels which with the rise in mental health issues can only be a positive thing for our kids.

Why is creativity important to you?

Creativity has always been important to us, Joel has always had creative jobs; he’s at his happiest when designing or making things.  It’s definitely in the Perera genes- artists, architects and potters in the family; we hope Luca will find his creative path.

Could you tell us about your workshop and how you have it set up?

Every week Joel tries to improve the work shop set up, making the process of making the kitchens more efficient.  We have a separate sanding room, painting area, work bench, wrapping and photography area. We always seem to need more space and hopefully we will be moving to a bigger workshop soon.

What’s your favourite thing in your workshop/studio?

Joel’s favourite thing is his drum sander followed closely by his mitre saw; he still hasn’t confessed to how much he spent on them! Mine is the order board; over the last year we have improved and changed the design.  We now have each individual order on a stick, which includes the whole orders details and they’re magnetic so can be moved around.  It has meant as soon as an order comes in, the details are on the board and we know exactly when it’s due out.  The whole process is now streamlined and organised.

Does your son have his own creative space? Could you tell us a bit it?

In our London flat we haven’t much space so he’s lucky to have a work shop that he can make the most of….he has his own work overalls and  loves to paint, often makes little wooden items; Joel is teaching him to use lots of tools safely so when he’s at work with us he has free reign and gets involved.

Like lots of 5 year olds he also loves Lego, so our flat floor is often covered in various stages of builds.

Why is it important that both kids and adults have a creative space?

Being creative in any form is good for the soul- having both the time and space to create is essential to the overall wellbeing of everyone.  One of the very reasons we created Mud Kitchens was to provide a safe, contained space in the garden to encourage children to explore with imaginative play and unlike lots of the plastic garden toys, something that the adults don’t mind looking at in their garden!

If you fancy finding out more about Natalie and Joels amazing Mud Kitchens empire head over to their website.



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