These bedside tables were pretty ugly when I bought them. So much so that the guy I bought them from nearly didn't bother trying to sell them. But i could see past all the busyness of the timber veneer and I loved their shape. I knew that with paint they would be toned down and look less dated.
With this type of furniture I suggest giving it a good sand as the high gloss of the timber means that paint doesn't stick as well as more matte, porous surfaces. You don't need to completely removed the old varnish, just sand enough to create a good key. I would sand even when using Zinsser primer or chalk paint.
I decided to paint over the hardware as I wanted these bedsides to be very neutral. I chose ASCP Old Ochre for the base and completely painted and waxed the bases before painting the top in ASCP Graphite.
I waxed the tops also with clear wax. I'm going to share some more of my tips for waxing ASCP Graphite soon. There is one little trick that will save you so much hassle that you'll love me for it :)
I love how they look now and that little shelf will prove very practical for books and magazines I think -instead of everything piling up on top of the bedside table. These have already been sold.
have a good day