I was given a large hutch from a friend. She knew that I liked to paint just about anything with a surface and redoing furniture is up there at the top of my list. With company coming in just a couple days I had some rearranging to do and suddenly, the bottom portion of the hutch would make a great TV stand. But first; a face lift.
The hutch (shown below with drawers removed) had a lot of surface damage--like a cat had clawed at it. In addition, the top of the hutch had a shiny surface (like a veneer). So, first I filled in the deepest scratches with wood putty. I sanded the surface to smooth it, and then applied a good primer to the entire piece. (Bin makes a great primer and you can get it at any hardware store).
After applying the primer to the entire piece, I painted the piece with regular latex paint. I used paint that I already had from the house. Benjamin Moore Eggshell finish. Normally when you paint furniture you should use a semi-gloss finish. But, this wasn't going to be the last step (and I LOVE reusing paint that I already have around in my very large collection!!)
It takes more time but it's easier in the long run if you remove all the drawers and door fronts, handles, and hardware. I also really like using cardboard for drop cloths. It's thick, doesn't stick to whatever you're painting, and can be stored easily. I hate drop cloths, too easy to trip over or to miss paint drips (and then you step in it, and drag it all over you house).
After painting the tan color you see above and letting it dry, I applied a stain finish to give the piece an antique effect.
Use gloves (dishwashing ones work best. The other gloves tend to break down with stain or lacquer) to protect your hands from being stained too. It's a bear to get off your skin. When applying the stain, go for a dark one that will show up well on the paint. I used walnut for this piece. I also used a handiwipe to apply the stain--it's great for staying wet and not absorbing the stain and you can easily flip it over and over to wipe the stain back off.
Put the stain on heavy and then start wiping it off in a somewhat haphazard manner. You don't want streaks and you want some areas to be heavier than others to show dimension.
Below is the finished piece. I need to find some hardware, but for now it works and it's ready in time for company!