My parents found me an old dresser at an auction when I moved into my first apartment after college. It was well-made but had definitely been used for many years. The top especially was pretty beat up - lots of nicks and scratches and a good size water stain. The finish was a dark, heavy varnish that obscured the wood grain and just looked dated. The pulls were a lovely ornate brass shape. This isnt my dresser, but the style is similar and the handles were the same - the color of mine was a little darker.
Todd and I decided to attempt to refinish the dresser and bought some paint and varnish stripper, lots of sand paper and steel wool, and got to work. After the first 2 days it looked like this... We discovered that the dresser was actually made of beautiful cherry wood and was in excellent condition after sanding away all the old finish. We wanted to try to match it to Todd's armoire that we have in our bedroom and really love, so we needed a dark stain with warm red undertones. We ended up choosing Minwax Satin Brown Mahogony stain with polyurethane already mixed in. After we put the first coat on the top, we decided it would probably take 2-3 coats.We ended up putting on 1 coat and rubbing it off with rags. The 2nd coat we brushed on and just left it alone. I put a 3rd coat on the top as it was lighter than the rest of the dresser appeared to be and touched up a few places. We sanded in between each coat with fine grit steel wool. We replaced all the old drawer pulls with modern brushed nickel hardware.Sorry for the poor lighting - the dresser really turned out to be an exellent match for the armoire we already had. Also ignore the ugly TV - Todd won't let me get rid of it and there are too many clothes inside the armoire for it right now but when we move somewhere with more closet space, the TV will be going into the armoire. I'm so happy with how it turned out. I'm now in love with a piece of furniture I was ready to throw away and the total project only cost about $50 in supplies, including the new hardware.