May 032
I rescued this kid-height shelf from the daycare discard pile when the school did some renovations. It was sad looking but perfectly solid, and I loved that it had drawers. I sanded the whole thing down, primed it, and gave it two coats of cheerful yellow paint. To keep it from being too relentlessly yellow I used a soft gray inside the shelves and drawers. After some assistance from my father getting this heavy sucker up the stairs, it is sitting happily in the play room. 
The process went something like this (please excuse the crummy iphone photos):
 Late March 071
I used a small cordless sander on the top, sides, and drawer fronts to rough up the finish and smooth out dings and scratches. I did the interiors by hand with some folded-up medium grit sandpaper. Dings, deep scratches, and nail holes  were filled with wood filler. Once that was dry, I sanded the filled spots and then wiped everything down with a damp cloth. (Note: Let the wood filler dry completely before sanding smooth. Trust me. If you’re impatient, the wood filler will roll up into little balls and vacate the premises.)
Late March 075
I used an oil-based Zinsser primer on everything. It did a good job, but boy, did it stink. Next time I’ll try a water-based or low-VOC version. 
May 247
Paint! I used Glidden Buttered Sweet Corn on the top, sides, and drawers fronts, and Silver Birch on the interiors. I let the paint dry several days before putting on two coats of glossy water-based poly. (Who am I kidding? It was over a week before I got back downstairs to do the poly; of course the paint was dry!) 
I used a brush to do all my painting, and I added Floetrol to the paint to reduce brush marks. A small roller would have worked well for the sides and top but the interiors of the shelves really needed something smaller and more flexible. I have a favorite brush for small spaces – the edge is angled and the handle is short and flexible so you can get into corners. It’s made by Wooster and sold as a sash brush but I use it for much more than that. For the poly, I used Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic and sanded lightly with fine sandpaper between coats.
May 045
Done! All told, it took about five hours for me to finish this project, spread out over several weeks as I had time to run downstairs to my work room. Let’s just say the paint really had time to cure between steps. 
Now, what next? There’s a big blank space in the center of my work room…..