I am no DIY queen by any stretch of the imagination, but the one thing I can do is paint furniture. I was terrified of painting furniture, but after a bad experience with a professional restorer, I decided to try it myself. Kyle and I have painted a handful of things around the house, and developed a method that seems to work pretty well for us. Basically, if I can paint furniture then you definitely can paint furniture.
Step 1: Sand the piece of furniture. Kyle and I bought a sander on sale at Home Depot, and we do a light sanding over everything (even if we buy it from Ikea). I don't worry about getting the paint off of something, just making sure that I have a smooth surface.
Step 2: Prime the surfaces that you want to paint with one coat of primer. We use Zinsser Bull's Eye Primer from Home Depot and always, always, always use 4" mini foam rollers for priming and painting. Our technique isn't the most environmentally friendly, but we throw away the roller after each coat of paint/primer. We only do one coat of primer, because this stuff covers really well.
Step 3: Paint the surface with matte paint. We used Benjamin Moore Gentleman's Gray for our Rast dressers. Every single time I go to the paint store and ask for this, they tell me I'm crazy and make another suggestion. Here's my reasoning: when I put the polycrylic on during the last step, using matte paint helps me to see the parts that I've missed. If they tell you you're crazy, just smile and nod politely. I paint with the foam rollers again for this step. I have read where some people sand the furniture down after priming and again after painting. Kyle and I felt that this was a little too time consuming for the results we saw. We sand down any parts that are uneven or drips between coats of primer and paint. In all honesty, as we've gotten better at painting, we are usually able to cut out the sanding altogether.
Step 4: Paint the surface with a second coat of paint. Again, feel free to sand down (by hand) any places that are uneven or have drips. I let the paint and primer dry between 4 and 6 hours between coats.
Step 5: After the paint has dried for 4-6 hours, I get a regular paintbrush and put on Minwax water-based polycrylic. It's super important when you buy this that it is water-based and clear satin. Oil based will leave a yellow colored finish, but the water-based polycrylic will dry clear and just make your furniture shiny looking. The polycrylic helps to protect the paint so you won't have scratches and marks on it. In my experience, if I see something on the furniture, a damp towel washes it off. It also gives it a more lacquered look, which I really like. You want to make sure you have a new or really clean paintbrush (preferably small to medium size) for this step. I like to put the polycrylic on thickly and then go over the area with even, linear brushstrokes. Kyle gets less paint on his brush and always uses even, linear brushstrokes. His method probably looks a little better in the long run, but mine is faster. Ideally, you want to do two coats of this (letting it dry 4-6 hours in between) to make sure the furniture is evenly covered. If it is a piece I know won't be used often or in direct sunlight, I have sometimes just done one coat.
Step 6: For the rast hack, we didn't put on the knobs provided with the dresser. We bought these Martha Stewart knobs from Home Depot (6 for each dresser). Then, Kyle measured the distance between the screws, and used the holes for the provided knobs to measure an inch and half on each side from the center of the holes. He drilled holes that matched the size of the screws provided from Home Depot, and we put the pulls on. We didn't fill the original holes, because you really can't see them once the knobs are on and the dressers are in place.
Et voila! Our new guestroom bedside tables...
Total Cost: About $70-75 per dresser for including paint, brushes, and pulls.