Let me just start by saying I am SO pleased with how these nightstands turned out! I had been searching for a set of nightstands to replace our old, mismatched pair (I'm all for cute, mismatched nightstands, but ours were NOT cute) and had all but given up hope when a set that was completely "me" fell into my life. They were in rough shape, but that means they were a good price so I snatched them up and got to work!
These nightstands were very old so the first thing I did was give them a good wipe down. I scrubbed and scrubbed until every surface and drawer was clear of dust and grime. While wiping down the back (an area that was free of paint), I got a faint smell of cigarettes which may have just been my pregnancy smell messing with me or may mean that these nightstands spent part of their life with a smoker.
If you have a piece of furniture that smells like cigarettes, one way to help eliminate that smell is by cleaning your piece and then spraying it down generously with a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 cups water. To avoid any water stains from your spray droplets, wipe it down with a dry paper towel. But if you're painting the furniture anyway, it really doesn't matter. Then let everything air dry. The vinegar smell will be strong, but it will go away along with the smoke smell!
Given the age of these pieces, I also ended up painting and sealing the backs and bottoms to help lock in any smoke smell or possible old lead paints just to be safe.
Once everything was clean, I took off all the hardware and used 120 grit sandpaper to lightly sand everywhere I would be painting. I did this to rough up my old paint so my new paint can grab on a little better. Then I wiped everything down again so I would have a clean surface for painting.
For paint, I used a Behr Ultra interior flat, matte paint in True Copper and I was able to get the coverage I wanted in one coat. I was really impressed with how far this paint went for me. I bought a quart, but honestly probably would have had plenty of paint working with a sample size. I thankfully like the color a lot and have used my extra paint on quite a few other projects!
I gave my paint about 24 hours to dry just to be sure and then lightly sanded some of my edges, the legs, anywhere that you would see natural ware on a piece to give it that more vintage feel. You can do this very sparingly to add a little dimension or you can really go to town with it if you want that beaten up look. It's all up to you and