How to Upcycle an Ordinary Cooler into Functional Outdoor Furniture

When most people look at purchasing a home, what’s available outside the home is just as important as what’s inside. Space to entertain and enjoy being outdoors comes in various shapes, sizes, and spaces. For the perfect outdoor entertaining space, creating an atmosphere that provides comfort and function is only the beginning of the fun. There’s nothing better than firing up the barbecue, eating tasty food, and grabbing a cold beverage from the cooler. Except, our cooler isn’t the prettiest nor is it the most functional, so I decided to upcycle it to something a little more in line with our decor.

Before Cooler

I found the perfect little table at Home Depot that was about the size of the cooler, and also coordinated really well with our outdoor chairs. I put the table together per the instructions, and removed the glass top that came with it and set it aside.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s that paint is a game changer, and spray paint has come a long way. Not only for this project but so many others, you can really update a space or an object simply by painting it. After I wiped the cooler down, I gave it a coat of paint that coordinated with our side table. This would allow the cooler to blend in with its surroundings.  This particular Rust-Oleum spray paint works on plastic and the coverage was really good after just one coat. It took a second coat only to catch a few areas I missed initially.

Using scrap wood I had on hand, I created a top that allowed an opening for the cooler and would provide a solid surface to place drinks on. I picked the layout I liked the best and gave all the wood a good sanding to take off any splinters and smooth the edges.

I used my Kreg Jig to create pocket holes allowing for stability and a way to connect the pieces together. I also added some wood pieces underneath the top to keep the top from shifting and sliding off the table.

I gave the wood top a coat of classic walnut stain, then followed up with a weathered gray to give it more of a rustic look. Once it was all dry, I sealed it with spar urethane that will hold up to temperature and rain. The removable top makes it easy for me to access the cooler and will allow me to put the glass top back on too.

Now when guests come over, they can have easy access to drinks without having to leave their seats. The storage underneath is perfect for storing drink coozies or even bug spray. Not only was I able to turn an old cooler into something more functional, but I was also able to add to our decor too.

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