So, about two years ago, I bought a Thomasville Hollywood Regency–style dresser and hutch from Craigslist. I planned to repaint it, and of course, it took a little longer than I'd planned on.
The main obstacle here was that the piece was stamped 1966 on the back, which puts it firmly in the years in which lead paint was the standard. I may be conservative on this count, but my baseline is to assume that any vintage piece made before 1980 could contain lead paint. In refurbishing any piece of furniture which may have lead paint, there are a number of safety standards that should be met. Any sanding should be done outside, and goggles and a face mask should be worn. The piece should be wiped down extensively before bringing it back indoors as you want to minimize or eliminate any dust that may remain on the piece.
The greatest concern with lead paint is chipped pieces falling to the ground in households with children or pets that spend a lot of time on or near the floor and may consume the chips. The dust can also be harmful, but this is generally not an issue unless you're disturbing the paint surface. The surface of the dresser and hutch was excellent, and I wasn't concerned about any chipping, which is why I felt comfortable not repainting the piece for a couple of years. But I'd become really tired of the mustard tone of the original paint and longed for a purer, pastel-toned yellow. Also, the top of the dresser was a plastic surface and I was ready for a less dated look.
Painting everything took several weeks, as I can't do any painting during the work week, and I needed to apply many coats. I started by sanding outside with protective gear, then wiped down everything thoroughly before taking it inside. Next, I applied 2–3 coats of Zinsser Bulls Eye primer to give it a solid base and really seal that vintage paint down a few layers. To finish, I applied 2–3 coats of high gloss Behr paint in Lemon Drops.
The high gloss paint gives it an almost lacquered look in real life. The hutch is a great place for me to store cookbooks, glasses and cocktail accouterments. In the drawers I keep things like napkins, batteries, lightbulbs, votive candles, and other items that are handy to have near the dining room table. I'll probably style the shelves more nicely at some point, but at least for now I have a bright and cheerful hub in which to mix a drink or look up a recipe.