diy modern and very cool cooler

diy modern and very cool cooler | almost makes perfect

well, just like last year, and the year before that — we’re throwing ourselves a little birthday picnic for our shared birthday week. so of course i have to make a thing or two. (last year i made the picnic blanket)

we decided a drugstore cooler is something in desperate need of a makeover – so cher and i got together, i mean gideon and i got together to do that. (that’s a really dumb clueless joke. i think you know that.)

diy modern and very cool cooler

modern cool cooler

01 | unless you get a white cooler, you’ll want to spray paint away the bright blue. do plenty of coats until you’re happy with the color.

02 | once it’s the color you want, spray it with like half of a dozen light coats of fixative. like until you feel like you’ve gone insane.

03 | cut a template out of the contact paper for the top, gently fold corners and secure all edges with super glue. do a couple thin layers of mod podge over the entire surface.

04 | spray your top with a ton of shellac too. we wanna protect this thing right?!

05 | once your handle is spray painted and fixed (unless it came in white you lucky sob), you can tie a canvas rope around to make it extra pretty and handle-y. i wanted to do some sort of fancy braiding, but i also didn’t know how. so we tied it around and secured the edges with super glue. clamp the end after gluing for 20 minutes to get it nice and tight. then wrap it as tightly as you can all the way down the other side, and glue and clamp again. the edges are pretty hidden on ours since they’re on the bottom.

diy modern and very cool cooler

disclaimer : i don’t really know how long it will hold up for, but i can let you guys know if you wanna know. because the top is contact paper, it might not be the most waterproof thing in the world, but i just don’t recommend sitting drinks on top of it is all. if you use your cooler like a normal person and not a wild animal, you should be a-okay!

diy modern and very cool cooler | almost makes perfectdiy modern and cool coolerdiy modern and very cool coolerdiy modern and very cool cooler | almost makes perfect

that’s the first time i’ve shown my crazy knee on the blog. i ran a moped into a car on my birthday 10 years ago and still have that gnarly scar. but enough about me – go have a picnic!

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  1. This is fantastic! I’ll be on the look out for a second hand cooler just so I can do this. 🙂

  2. Good idea and definitely “cooler” than the classic version 😉

    1. haha! chic magazine styling?! and to think i was just eating some chips and brought them with me! THANK YOU

      1. Fine, then I like your “chic accidental styling.” 🙂

  3. trés chic pour le picnik j’adore ce relooking !

  4. This is perfect! Haven’t seen something this clean in a DIY in a while.


    1. courtney! thank you so much!

  5. I love this so much! Where did you get your dress?!

    1. thank you! it’s from RVCA but it’s a few years old now

    1. omg, thank you! huge compliment.

  6. This is the most beautiful cooler I’ve ever laid eyes on! Now I’m wishing the lid was actually a cutting board.

    1. thank you melissa! i know, i thought that i was typing the post too. next time!

    1. aw. thank you camille! i actually think every week that i have no more ideas haha

    1. huge compliment coming from you! x

  7. What would be an excellent addition would be if the lid was wood and you could use it as a cutting board while on your picnic 🙂

    1. That is exactly what I thought! How great would that be if it was a functional cutting board! 🙂

      1. Deena Cate says:

        Just saw this on Pinterest, what a great idea! Would it work if you cut a piece of 1/4 inch plywood and glued it on top? It is so light and would make it be able to function as a cutting board/ be able to put your drinks on, etc.


  8. that looks great! did you get the contact paper in ‘pine?’ it looks so much better on your cooler if that’s the woodgrain you chose.
    keep up the awesome diy’s!

    love holly

    1. thank you holly! i actually couldn’t find the original contact paper i bought a year ago that i used, but i just did and i updated the link!

  9. that is honestly the most attractive cooler i have ever seen

  10. I love this Molly! The project and the photos are great. And I wanted to ask where you got your picnic blanket/rug from, if you don’t mind sharing? I’ve literally been looking for that exact same one, in a different color, since I saw them being used at a conference picnic last year. I can’t find them anywhere.

    1. thanks brittni! i bought all mine (i have a quite a few) on olvera street in la, every shop there sells them for about $20 bucks. i have seen them really overpriced online, so make sure you pay around $20! they’re called thunderbird mexican blankets.

  11. Seriously one of those why didn’t I think of that moments. You have such a talent for elevating simplicity to its highest potential. I’m OBSESSED with this idea!

  12. Very cute idea!! Just a couple questions; is fixative, shellac, and spray acrylic coating the same thing? Just a little confused. Do you feel like the modge podge was necessary on the contact paper in addition to the spray? Cant wait to try it, thanks!

    1. thanks jordan! ok i said all three in the post, didn’t i. that’s because i had all three so i tried them all haha, but i believe they’re all the same thing more or less. our shellac had kind of a yellow tint to it, so i say go with the fixative vs shellac if the cans are listed differently.

      and as for the mod podge : i’m not really sure, i wanted it to be really stuck onto the cooler because i was afraid of it peeling, so i just felt like the more protection, the better. good luck! x

  13. Whoa awesome !
    When i first saw the picture on Pinterest i thought, “oh yeah, there’s a brand cool and smart enough to design a classy cooler + with a wooden bread/anything else cutting board on top of it ! That’s very clever for picnics !” Well played ! The look is really awesome, so now i need that classy kind of cooler with a real wood panel on top ! ( that might be kind of heavy though…)
    This DIY is super kewl, thanks Molly !
    xo from Paris
    Mlle Eugé | a designer’s blog

  14. i’m pretty much obsessed with this idea now! i’m on the hunt for a used cooler now (or a cheaper smaller one). unless, i just did this to my bigger ones?! ha! thanks for sharing the genius idea.


    1. XOXOX thank you kelly!

  15. Love this. Do you know how well it would stand up to wear and tear and water though?

  16. This is the best. What a great wedding gift. So sleek and stylish.

    And I love your scar. It shows you are human. XOXOX

  17. Pingback: Alyssa and Carla
  18. Love the idea, but love your wonky knee picture even more! Scars tell our story, glad you shared yours! 🙂

  19. Excellent idea! If you use spray paint for plastic, you don’t have to seal it with fixative, thoguh it will still help. Wipe down the outside of the cooler with a tack rag or cloth with some alcohol to remove grease and prep the surface for the paint.
    If you can’t find plastic paint in your hardware store, go next door to the craft store and buy model paint.

  20. This is a really cool project, I recently updated my camera with some wood print too. I love the possibility’s that this stuff has. I guess (almost) everything is a little prettier with some wood print and some white 🙂 *click my name for the link to my post about the camera*

  21. Hi there – just found your blog with this post on Pinterest – so happy I did! This is such a great idea and really beautiful! Great blog too 🙂

  22. By far one of the most beautiful and genius DIYs i’ve seen for a long long time. really! The first photo is amazing 🙂

  23. Hi Molly!
    I really like the idea!!! And your Blog, is stylish and pretty cool.

    I’m also designer, and just one month ago I started to write a blog with things around my life. For the moment I only write in Spanish, but I’m thinking in start to write in English too (my english is a little bit bad, but I need to improve it XD).

    Thanks for being an inspiration!


  24. Super cute! reminds me of the coolers sorority girls paint for frat guys in the south. If you’ve never seen them google it . Some are amazing!

  25. love this idea! also LOVE your ring. what stone is that in the middle?

  26. Lindsey O'Brien says:

    how cool! where is the cooler from?

  27. What an amazing idea! It would work on all kinds of coolers too. For a picnic blanket, it’s so nice to go to any fabric store and just ask them for a couple yards of whatever fabric is on sale that day that looks nice. It can go toward book covers and tons more after it’s used to sit on too!

  28. Look great, how cool would an actually cutting board be so that you can cut on your lovely picnic! Happy Nesting.

  29. Love this going to do this for sure this summer!!! 🙂

  30. Where did you get the cooler?! What size/name is it? I’m trying to find one to paint and it looks absolutely perfect!

    1. hey lauryn! i got it at rite-aid actually!

  31. This is such an awesome idea!!
    It has such a retro 50’s look to it but yet looks modern. You did an awesome job on this.

  32. Such a stylish idea! Love how chic you made a cooler! Super cool (in more ways than one!)

  33. How is the cooler holding up after about two years of use?

  34. Love the idea, but love your wonky knee picture even more! Scars tell our story, glad you shared yours! 🙂