DIY patio cooler hack that will elevate your outdoor dining

diy patio cooler ikea hack

Summer months are great for picnics and outdoor parties in the backyard. Keep the cold drinks cold in a DIY patio cooler ice chest.

We have a wooden or metal version … your pick.

The patio cooler would be awesome parked next to an outdoor sink and the barbecue grill table.

The IKEA TARVA Wooden Ice Chest hack

Summer weather keeps you struggling to keep drinks cool out on the balcony. The obvious solution is to get a plastic cooler, but that’s not half the fun as building your own custom wooden ice chest!

The TARVA proved to be a good basis for construction, and I even kept the bottom drawer intact for storage for bottle openers, etc.

IKEA TARVA chest, hacked into a DIY patio cooler wooden ice box
IKEA TARVA chest, hacked into a DIY patio cooler wooden ice box


TARVA 3-drawer chest

DIY patio wooden ice chest cooler box

Since I would be sawing up the top surface to create a hatch, I had to put some additional structural supports underneath it. This also served to attach the hinges for the top hatch. Instead of measuring out how deep the supporting floor had to go (keeping in mind the additional layer of insulation I was putting in) I put everything in upside down, making sure the top lid of the cooler (screwed into the hatch) would nicely fit into the main body, once everything would be assembled.

Additionally I built a drainage in the bottom of the cooler, so you don’t have to turn the entire chest upside down to let the melt water out. A spigot on the outside of the chest drains any liquid collected.

Top panel cut into two
Insulation material

On the inside about the bottom drawer, I added a wooden brace to hold up two planks that works as the supporting floor. The insulation material sits on these planks and the gap between them allow the piping from the cooler box to flow through to a pre-drilled hole at the side of the cooler.

pipe to allow liquid to drain from cooler box

Ice Chest Test Run

At this time it was a good moment to try out the functional assets of the chest, to much content of my buddies. The test run proved successful (the beers were nice and cold), the drainage had some leakage issues. Good thing we tested it before sealing everything up!

Once the leakage issues had been solved (plumbers putty to the rescue!) I finalized all insulation front, back, and sides and glued the remaining two drawer fronts to close everything up.

Then, I applied some walnut stain on the bare pine wood. I made sure to quickly wiped it down before it dried, so to keep the overall look light, but enhancing the wood texture. Some layers of clear stain to make it weatherproof and a touch of spray paint layer and the chest was completed. (Inspired by this)

The finishing touch were handles on the side of the ice chest. They serves the dual purpose of hanging up a towel and gives me something to hold when I need to move the wooden ice chest into storage.

I’m ready for that Texas heat now, my beers will be ice cold all summer long!

~ by Joey in Houston, Houston, Texas

Homemade outdoor cooler box

This time I needed something to hold the beers, milk or other liquids cold out in the patio. Perfect when you sit outside on warm summer days along with friends, so everyone doesn’t have to run into the kitchen and pick up new beers all the time. This is my summer IKEA hack that was easy to DIY and so far, worked really well.

IKEA JOSEP cabinet, hacked into a DIY patio cooler ice box


IKEA JOSEF metal cabinet (If unavailable at your IKEA, use the HÄLLAN instead)

IKEA hack an patio cooler box

I found a metal cabinet from IKEA called JOSEF.

JOSEF cabinet inside

Only problem was that it wasn’t supposed to be wall mounted only for stand on the ground. After opening the box I found out that it would be easily solved with 8 small metal screws, which I bought from the hardware store. Or you can skip this part let it stand on the ground if that fits your outdoor deck better.

Styrofoam as insulation material

DIY cooler insulation

I then needed some insulation so I bought two pieces of 20mm styrofoam which fitted perfectly. I cut them to the right sizes and glued the pieces to all the sides of the cooler, top, bottom, and even the door. Make sure to cover all exposed areas to maximise insulation.

Glued to the sides

After that I did some pimping with a new handle. Lastly, figure sawed out some letters and spray painted them silvergrey to make the ice box look like a fridge.

Added handle
IKEA JOSEF cabinet, hacked into a DIY patio cooler ice box

I have used our DIY patio cooler box several times and if I put in 5 or 6 ice packs it keeps the beers cold for hours. Passed the test!

~ by Thomas Petersson, Sweden