My sister-in-law traded me an empire dresser for revamping a couple things for her. I've seen quite a few painted empires that turned out beautiful, but I like to restore pieces if they warrant it. This is how it turned out.
I love the beautiful burled wood on the top drawers and the rich color of the wood. It had extensive veneer damage, but don't let that stop you from refinishing a piece.
I simply took a chisel and scraped off the loose veneer on the top and the two bottom drawers. The curved top drawers and rest of the cabinet was in good shape.
Then my husband helped me sand the whole thing so that it was smooth as a baby's butt.
I used a piece of the scrapped veneer to test out different stains. I ended up with the Jacobean, it was dark enough to help blend the different tones, plus it gave it a richness that it was missing.
This only lasted about a week at the store. I was lucky to be there when the couple bought it. It was so nice to see how excited they were to get it. So painting is fun, but sometimes it pays to take the time to refinish a piece.