I belong to a group on yahoo called "FreeCycle." The general theme of the group is to try and keep things from the landfills. It's pretty amazing how many things get posted--some really great stuff sometimes. The other night I happened to scroll through the list and saw someone was getting rid of a dresser. I needed one for my daughter's room so I emailed. As it turns out, she lived only a few blocks away from me.
I text messaged Dave and he got the dresser on his way home from work. (Actually, he came home, got my van, and went back--all at 10pm at night. He's a good guy).
The dresser had a few damaged areas that I filled with wood putty and then sanded down flat.
I wanted to paint the dresser white to match the rest of her furniture (also, all great deals). I used the color, "white dove" from Benjamin Moore--very pretty (and was featured in House Beautiful I'm told). For furniture you want to use a semi gloss finish. I also like to thin my paint (don't use water) with paint thinner. Water makes the paint dry faster--not what you're looking for with furniture. Paint thinner will allow the paint to dry slower which makes it smoother, and you'll see less brush marks. You can sometimes use a roller, but you need a great foam one. Most of the times, rollers show little dimples (think: orange peel) all over the piece.
I did prime the whole dresser first though. (it does have drawers, I just didn't have them in while painting and sanding) Now, if you have an old piece (which this one definitely is) it may have kind of a funky smell to it. It's in the wood. What you can do is use a 3parts water/ 1 part bleach combo and spray the inside of the dresser. Do it lightly. But the bleach/water combination will kill the smell.
I wasn't sure what to do with the handles so I have painted them to match the dresser. I may still do something interesting to them in the future but for now, I think the dresser looks pretty damned great. And, you cannot beat the price.