My wife wanted to paint all of the bedroom furniture white, the walls gray and accent in light pink and/or white. She wanted to follow the same color theme as our wedding, gray and light pink. During the time of the painting, she was pregnant, so of course we were concerned about her painting.
She did a bunch of research online and believed that the easiest way to go about painting the furniture was with "chalk paint". She went to Home Depot and a local hardware store looking for this paint. The local hardware store told her to buy this "Swamp Mud" (pictured) as a primer and then gave her some chalk paint.
I'll admit that my wife attempted her hand at the night stand first (the doctor signed off on allowing her to paint). She applied the mud, but that whole jar only lasted on one night stand. Between the mud and the chalk paint, it is very expensive. I knew I was probably going to have to do something else for the dresser after going through a whole jar of mud. At any rate, she applied 2 coats of chalk paint to the night stand. She called me that night crying. I suppose those pregnancy hormones were kicking in! She said the chalk paint wasn't working right. I came home and found that it just needed at least one more coat (but 2 would have been better).
If you are painting furniture, rent one, buy one, borrow one, steal one (just kidding)...just don't plan on doing this without one. They help immensely. I used 150 grit sandpaper disks I bought 220-grit sandpaper, but I didn't use it. If I chose any other color other than white, I don't think I could get by with using such a rough grit. I sanded the varnish and the stain down to bare wood, or as close to it as I could get. I then applied two layes of Behr Ultra Primer allowing the primer to dry 2 hours in between coats. I then applied 4 layers of Behr Ultra Paint & Primer allowing the coats to dry an hour and the last coat overnight. I then applied 3 layers of polycrylic. The primer, paint, and polycrylic all went on much thinner and needed more coats than I thought.
If I had to do it all over again, I might consider spray painting the furniture. Quite honestly, I didn't want to spray paint, because 1.) it was winter, 2.) I didn't want to bother people to help me move the furniture and 3.) I dind't want to keep my cars outside while the painting was going on over the course of days and/or weeks. I wanted to do it at my pace, however fast or slow that was. Lesson learned!