For my bedroom makeover, I refinished my night stands. These night stands are ones I got when I was the environmental supervisor at a local nursing home. They were remodeling and getting rid of all the furniture. These are so heavy, that even Mr Farmer grunted a bit when trying to carry them, even without the drawers.
Typically, I would remove all the hardware before painting, but I didn't want to replace it. I also knew I wouldn't find something to match my paint job and I wanted the hardware to be the same color. We don't get into our nightstands very often and no kids are allowed in our room, so I figured it was ok to just paint them.
I started by washing them good with a good de-greaser and let them dry. There wasn't much of a varnish left on them so I didn't even sand them. Normally I would sand them to rough up the finish. The top was the only part that isn't wood. It's laminate. I figured I'd leave it and just paint antique-looking game boards to set on the top. I decided to try and paint the tops and they turned out pretty good. The finish will come off if it's scratched, but I placed a table mat on top to protect it. And, like I said, kids aren't allowed in our bedroom, so it's less likely they'll get scratched.
After de-greasing, I painted two coats of black paint.
Next, I sanded around edges and any places where normal wear would show, like around the handles. You want it to look like an old piece of furniture that has been worn in places used and touched over and over during many years of use.
The last step for me was to put a dark stain over top. I usually paint on and wipe of the excess, but this time liked the look of it with the heavy coat of stain. It did, however, take several days to dry. But I was waiting on my new bed and didn't mind having the night stands out of the room since I'd have to remove them anyway.
And that's how easy it is to refinish and antique a piece of furniture.