A cooler cooler [painting an old faded cooler]

Eleven years ago my hubbs and I were given a cooler for a wedding gift. It is definitely in the “top 5 best wedding gifts” category. It has gone camping, on road trips, to football tailgating parties, kids’ soccer games, and the lake. It has even traveled with us around the entire USA while we made road trips from Texas to new homes in New Jersey and California.

Unfortunately our cooler is now old and faded. A shell of what it once was. It is so sun damaged and scuffed up, but it is such a great cooler that I couldn’t bare to part with it and buy a new one. No use throwing away a perfectly useful item.

Poor thing has seen better days.

So what is a crafty girl to do? I can’t be seen with such an awful looking cooler. I do have a reputation to uphold here. 😉

After almost a week of drama with this cute little thing, here she is now. Brand new and better than ever.


Here’s how she came to be…

I started with this. Pretty faded and gross.


Definitely in need of a good makeover. I can’t be seen on the soccer field with this atrocity.


First thing I did was taped the entire inside of the cooler with paper and tape. I didn’t want any paint getting on the inside. Then I took spray paint primer for plastic and primed the entire cooler really well.


Once the primer was dry I took white spray paint for plastic and gave the top several coats. I wanted the top really bright white.


When that was dry I covered and taped the top really tightly. It’s now time to paint the body of the cooler.

And this is where my trouble begins…

I had visions of a tangerine and white cooler. You know I love orange. And I could just see this beautiful orange cooler at all the soccer games. In my mind, it was beautiful.

I could totally picture it full of bags of oranges like the ones Michael Scott stole from the baseball game.


In reality, it looked like something you’d see at a construction site.


Not exactly what I’d had in mind…

Back to the drawing board.

This go-round I decided on Rust-oleum’s Spa Blue spray paint.


I can live with this.

Stencil time! I was originally going to make a stencil and just spray paint over it.


I used Freezer Paper and cut out a stencil. However, after some thought I realized that with all the texture on the cooler the paint would most likely bleed under the stencil and get ruined.


I still used the stencil, but instead of attaching it and painting, I just attached it and traced my image with a pencil.


And now for the really fun tedious part. Hand painting.


Yup, I’m a lefty. My big claim-to-fame.


After one coat, it looked pretty pathetic.

But after FOUR very tedious time consuming testing-every-last-drop-of-patience-I-have coats, it is done.


And I love it.


But it’s missing *something*.

As if hand-painting four coats of “Hepworth” wasn’t torture enough, I decided it needed some racer stripes.


I taped off my stripes, painted one coat, and peeled the tape off. It bled pretty bad, so I had to hand-paint the remaining three coats and do some touching up.



About five seconds after I started the stripes I made the decision that they would look great on the front only. 😀 They were a major PITA to paint!




I think the only thing missing now are the tube socks.


Fall soccer season, Bring It!

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  1. Now THAT is creative!

    • why wouldnt you be able to use the silhouette and cut out the last name as a stencil to paint it and then remove lightly? Would it take the paint off?
      Thanks! Nice cooler btw!

      • The Silhouette would be a perfect way to do this project! When I made it I didn’t own a silhouette so I just used what I had. If I were to re-do it now I’d definitely be printing out my name and the stripes in vinyl.

  2. It looks great Allison – so crafty and creative of you (of course, I would expect nothing less!) I laughed out loud when I saw the tube socks at the end!

  3. I laughed out loud too! Super cute cooler. How do you come up with this stuff? 🙂

  4. That is awesome! It looks wonderful!

  5. Great makeover! The cooler looks super sporty now.

  6. Okay, I feel much better about myself now! I left a comment (on the wrong post) about your cooler and was in awe that you had 160 comments on a post about painting your cooler!!! 😀

    We got a cooler for our wedding too and it was one of the best presents. Ours had sunscreen and beach towels and some other beach stuff in it.

    We still have it and it still looks great, but we don’t camp with it…so it is usually just in our car!

  7. You seriously inspire me- You make me believe that I can change anything, anyway I want-
    Love your new cooler- You are the most dedicated painter- four coats and THEN the stripes- Hats off to you.

  8. This has got to be quick, cause I have to run downstairs and find our cooler! This is such a great idea. I would have never thought of sprucing up our cooler. Love your name on it too. Makes yours stand out in a crowd.

  9. That was so worth all of your effort. I love it. My husband and I go to car shows and I just bought a new fabric cooler to match our cars. Never thought to paint an existing one. WOW….just wow. It is great.

  10. I love this! It is so cute! I want one too…mine will probably go pink 😉 for my lunches when I go to work….L.O.V.E. it!

  11. This is beyond fabulous!! I’m blown away by your creativity…AND patience!
    I’m inspired.

  12. That is so stinkin’ cute, gonna have to try it!!

  13. that is so awesome! you think of the neatest things!

  14. I never would have thought of painting a cooler, but it looks great! And will come in handy on camping trips and soccer games. You won’t confuse it with anyone elses! I’d love to hear how the paint holds up on that surface over time.

  15. hello, how are you, love your thermos and the transformation is great. really i never thought of this type of change on a thermos…5 *


    Its my blog, and i start it right now, hoping you follow and give me some useful suggestions. waiting for your responce. Farah

  16. atonewithhim says:

    you’re cute and so is your traveling icebox. i think this would be a fun thing to do to a couple lunchbox sized coolers i have.
    thanks for the fun and the idea.

  17. What a wonderful makeover!! It looks better than new. thanks for the inspiration

  18. hah! totally tube-socks! that’s funny. looks great.

  19. 😛 😛 What a great idea! Paint the cooler. Super makeover!

  20. Girl, you amaze me with the stuff you come up with. This is awesome and I’m sure you’ll be featured over and over this week!

  21. Totally freaking super love it!!!

  22. I LOVE this!! How fun & the PITA got an out loud laugh outta me this morning. Good job, Allison!!

  23. This is Absolutely an incredible 💡 !

    I would have never thought of painting a cooler. May have to try one of my own!

  24. Great job.
    I love the color choice. (the second one) 😉

  25. This is sooo funny, I just did the same thing with our coolers. My family thought I was crazy but I wanted all of our beach, camping stuff to match. I was going to post it this coming week after vacation. I love yours. Great Job!

  26. I literally giggled out loud when i scrolled down a bit more and saw the stripes were only on the front! Your PITA stripes made me giggle 🙂 BUT it looks totally GREAT!! Now I want a cooler cooler!!

  27. You take spray painting to a whole new level! I love it! And your cooler looks fabulous!

  28. My husband says I’ll revamp or paint anything that isn’t nailed down. Looks like I’m not alone! Even though the name was a PITA to paint it’s so much prettier than writing your name on it with marker.

  29. You did a great job! The stripes look awesome!

  30. love it!!!! I want to go do my mine RIGHT NOW!

  31. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that! We always see old coolers at garage sales – I think that would make an awesome present for someone!

    Great idea! 😆 😆 😆

    Mom. Undecided.

  32. That is an awesome makeover! I never would have thought to paint an ice chest, but it looks great!

  33. That looks fab! Way to repurpose something and save some serious dough. LOL The first orange color reminded me of the huge round gatorade cooler/dispensers at sporting events. 🙂 I had one in college… found it in the trainers’ dumpster, cleaned it out, and let me just say: it was good for drinks other than the gatorade variety. 😉

    Love the blue and the stripes!


  34. I LOVE IT!!!!!!! THINKING I’ll dress up some of our 4 camping coolers w/our name! how fun!!

  35. LOVE the cooler! We used to paint coolers in my college days all the time for frat weekends – but of course they were mostly beer labels with the boys names in them – oh so classy! 😉

    But one thing we learned after those weekends was that the paint usually chips off fairly quickly. I both used modge podge and spray sealer to save my paint and it works like a charm! Also – paint pens are wonderful for doing letters 🙂

  36. this is soooo cool! cannnot wait to redo ours for all those summer trips! how neat! awesome idea and so glad i hopped on over from today’s creative blog to check it out! hugs!

  37. LOVE IT!! Way to personalize it! I might have to go spray paint my cooler now and it’s not all beat up yet! I just want a cute cooler!
    I came over from the CSI Project!!

  38. I’m laughing like crazy because this was on my list of things to try, and not only have you proven it works, but you did it in my favorite Spa Blue! Bravo, it looks great, even with the tube socks!

  39. Very clever,, Never in a million years would I have thought about painting the cooler.. looks great!

  40. Very clever,, never in a million years would I have thought about painting a cooler,, looks great!

  41. LOVE it! Enjoyed seeing the process too. Makes you really think it through, but it looks so worth it! Thanks for sharing!

  42. What a “cool” idea! Sorry about the pun!

  43. barbara nutt says:

    ohhh!!! what a talented lady, and you have the patience to go with that. the cooler is adorable.

  44. That is just totally awesome! I love the colors and the handpainting looks perfect!

  45. That is one of the best projects I have seen in a while…but I ain’t doing it!~ LOL wow you are patient!

  46. Seriously, you are too clever! I love it!

  47. Great idea!! And I don’t think the orange looked that bad!! 😳

  48. I love it! I’m wondering though, if instead of hand painting, if you put first coat of paint on, like the orange or the white, then taped off the areas you wanted to keep white . . .like printing out the name on sticky paper and positioning it and adding the stripes or other decorations, like a flower or sun or butterfly; all before adding the final color coat for the same effect without the hand painting.

    I think I would seal the sticky paper in with a quick, light spray of the under coat color to prevent bleeding, then go to town with the top coat.

    Peel back the sticky paper before it completely dries and you should have the same effect.

    I might try this!

  49. Great makeover. We too are still using our cooler wedding present after 31 years. Great present.

  50. This idea is genius!! I never would have thought to paint a cooler and I have three that could use some updating. How fun! Thanks for sharing it and for the how you did it part! Very cut project!

  51. I have to telly you, yours is one of my favorite blogs. This project Rocks!

  52. Too cute!!! I love it!

  53. OMGosh, your little cooler turned out soooo cute! Certainly will be one of a kind. Love it.

    I came here via Penny Pinching Party. Hope you stop by and see me sometimes over at Pittypat Paperie.

  54. Woman you simply amaze me! I love the transformation!!!! And btw…I am a lefty too! Have a blessed day. Cindy

  55. this is too cool : 🙂
    i love me a good can of spray paint!! 😀

  56. So cute!! This was totally worth your time and patience. Great outcome. Expect orders from other soccer moms soon!!

    BTW- you are very funny!! I enjoyed reading this post!

  57. This looks great! Such a great idea.
    Thanks for linking up with Sugar & Spice.

  58. Waaaay cool. Love the color.

  59. Love This Allison!!!

  60. Fabulous!! It looks so fresh and beachy too!! It does look a little like tube socks, but I would’ve thought it had you not mentioned it!

  61. Wow. What a difference. And nothing going to the landfill.

  62. Sarah @ Thriftydecorchick says:

    Ha! Girl, leave it to you to make a cooler look cute!! Love it!

  63. What a great idea! It’s so much cuter now and noone will mistake it when you take it anywhere for theirs. Awesome idea!

    Thanks so much for linking up to the CSI Project! We really appreciate it. I hope you will come back next week for our Hardware Store challenge!


  64. I love this…will for sure be doing this soon!!

  65. How very creative! Love the tube socks btw! Thanks for linking up at PonyTails&FishScales~Party Time Thursday!


  66. Very cute idea! I love how it kind of looks retro! Great for summer! Thanks for linking up this week!

  67. Allison, you are amazing! I was totally unprepared for that after picture.

    Thank you for participating in the Creative Therapy session over at Life in the Pitts!

  68. Absolutely fabulous, Allison! What an inspiration. 😀

  69. SOOOOOO cute! You have way more patience than me. 🙂

  70. This is TOO cute! Totally going to use your idea 🙂

  71. Seriously??!! This is genius! I love it!


  72. GIRL, I LOVE THIS!!!! We have been needing to buy a cooler, but after I saw this yesterday, I called and asked my Dad did he have an old one that he didn’t use anymore…ha! He brought me one and I started the makeover on it today!!!! Thanks for the inspiration! Great job!!

  73. What a fun makeover project!! I love the blue. I totally agree, it’s definitely one of the best gifts to have! Now it’s just so very cool! Thanks so much for always linking to Creative Cats!! It’s been a pleasure having you! Have a wonderful summer!

  74. In a million, bazillion years, I never would have thought to do this! But I totally love it. 🙂 Great job!

  75. What a great idea… and it turned out beautifully! I may have to find an old cooler just to try this on!!

  76. That is so clever! Love it!

  77. This is SO fun! Thanks for sharing. I am linking back to you!


  78. Very creative! Thanks for linking up @PonyTails&FishScales!


  79. I can’t believe how cute this is! I pity the poor person who gives their old cooler away to one of your readers!

  80. what a terrific idea and what a terrific transformation!
    Recycling to boot!

  81. I’m a lefty too. The cooler turned out so cool. What a great idea to paint it. Thanks for linking to We’re Organized Wednesday. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to everyone. Hubby and I were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.

  82. Awesome! I love it!

  83. LOL!!! I bust out laughing! Just think.. with the orange one you totally could have jaywalked at any time. :mrgreen:

    Thanks for linking up to SNS!

  84. Your cooler looks wonderful! This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing. I will be linking to your wonderful idea.

  85. So cute! Thanks for linking up this week.

  86. Wow! How do you come up with this stuff?! Thanks for linking up!

  87. really, really cute!

  88. Such a cute idea!

  89. I love it!!! Great job! I have a 16 year old one that I got as a wedding gift, too! Time for a paint job! Thanks for the inspiration!

  90. I love this idea! After being on the soccer field today and looking at our pitiful cooler my cooler will be getting a makeover tomorrow:) Pistachio green and white 🙂 Thanks for the idea!!!

  91. I love this! Great tutorial. It’s one more example of how paint can transform even the most unexpected things.

  92. I love the idea so much that I decided to try it also! The only problem is that mine is already scratching revealing the original color. Is your cooler doing the same? I could not find primer for plastic but used kryola white for plastic instead. What primer brand did you use?

  93. You are totally rockin’ the cooler and will be the hit at the next event.

  94. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a
    community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on.
    You have done a marvellous job!

  95. fab..will have to do 4 a gathering a week from tomorrow!

  96. Doh! I was domain name shopping at namecheap.

    com and went to type in the domain name: http://www.
    houseofhepworths.com/2010/05/24/a-cooler-cooler/ and guess who already had it?
    You did! lol j/k. I was about to shop for this domain name but noticed it had been taken so
    I figured I’d come check it out. Awesome blog!

  97. Thanks for this great tutorial. I just redid my cooler and shared this link with my readers.


  98. What a grand idea. Would be great to customize with team colors too!

  99. Hey I love how your cooler turned out. I’m a construction worker and have been looking for a way to get my cooler painted in that orange color you first tried. Can you tell me what paimt you used for that color?


  1. […] it’s time to spray paint! I already had bright orange spray paint in my stash from my botched cooler project. I’m glad I finally found a use for this bright orange. I was afraid I had wasted four […]

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