I've been keeping my eyes open (and trying to convince dh) for quite a while for a solid wood chest of drawers for the kids. I finally found a fantastic deal. I thought when I found something, I would paint it (off) white for the kids' room. It didn't need to be a permanent fixture, as we plan to buy/build whatever furniture they need when we move and have more bedrooms and the kids are using their rooms more.
In the past month or two, my older two kids have begun sleeping in the kids' room at least 50% of the time and I would like to make it into a nice room for them. I also happened across an incredible deal on a chest of drawers, still with the plan to paint it and buy new hardware to update it.
It's in the garage now and I'm just not certain anymore. It's a nice solid piece. It's really tall with 5 drawers plus a secret hidden drawer (which the kids absolutely love and have thought up many plans for since we found out this evening). It's a nice stained cherry, except that the top is pretty scratched up and there are a few significant scratches on some of the drawers. It has all of the original hardware. It's brass, so I was going to replace it. However, the design is actually kind of cool - a back in the shape of a shield with a key looking thing that screws on, holding the shield in place. If it weren't for the scratches, I would look at this and think it was a lovely chest that would be perfect for my oldest as he gets older.
So...I'm no longer certain if I should paint it or try to sand and stain the scratches, but then how do you match the stain? And do I leave the original drawer pulls and live with their brassiness?
How big is the chest? Do you have a power sander? If the answer to the second question is no, I would just sand the scratched areas and then paint it an opaque color. (Of course, I like the look of painted furniture.)
We have an old chest of drawers that was pretty badly scratched but I loved the shape of it so I planned on sanding it and staining it, but when I was looking it over more closely to figure out how much work that would entail I noticed that it was veneered. The veneer was really thin so I thought power sanding it would be a bad idea. It's a pretty big chest so I didn't want to do it all by hand, so I decided to just sand the scratched areas and then paint it. Now It turns out that the paint that we bought (a water-based oil) was a bit thin, so with two coats, some of the grain of veneer, which was pretty pronounced) still comes through. I really like the way it looks, but my intention had been to make it completely opaque, and I think it would looked really nice that way too.
I had to reuse the old hardware even though I don't like it very much because it wasn't standard, so it couldn't have been replaced without drilling new holes for drawer pulls and closing up old ones. If you like the hardware, keep it. You could always paint it too. I considered painting the hardware on mine, but we're on a budget and I didn't want to buy a can of paint just to paint some hardware, lol.
It's a big chest of drawers. My eight year old has to reach up to reach the top. It also has some curves. I'm torn because the stain on the rest of the chest, minus those few areas, is lovely.
Hardware stores sell kits for repairing/hiding scratches on floors. Depending on how bad the scratches are, that might be an option.
If you like the original door pulls, but not the colour, spray painting them is an option.
I hear you, the veneer on our chest was really beautiful. That said, the chest itself was pretty poorly made, I'm guessing by an apprentice carpenter. The drawers all had numbers in pencil on the bottom because they only work in one position because the wooden rails that hold them were all put in at different heights! The quality issues made it much easier for me just to paint it. You've mentioned that yours is a nice solid piece of furniture, it is probably worth all the effort to sand it and refinish it. (But only if you have the time and energy. I have to admit I was actually relieved when I saw that sanding wasn't going to be a good idea for mine, because I really didn't want to do all that work!)
If the scratches aren't too bad, just try a scratch removal kit, as pp suggested.
Or depending on what color you were considering painting it, try to find a thinner paint that will work a bit like a stain. After I did the first coat of paint on our chest, I seriously considered leaving it that way because it looked like it had been stained, but unfortunately some of the scratches on one of the sides were just too deep and really needed the second coat. If the scratches on yours aren't too deep you might be able to get away with one coat. But not all colors will work. I used red, which tends to be less opaque than some other colors.
I agree with PPs about looking for a scratch-repair kit at a hardware store. I think I've seen something kind of like crayons, and the color fills matches, but it also somehow fills in the scratches? I don't know from experience how they work though.
As for the brass hardware, I'd suggest putting the chest in the kids' room and leaving it for a few months before making any decisions. I got this amazing antique mahogany desk back in the fall- it's the only piece of furniture I own that I truly love- and I was originally thinking about replacing the brass hardware, because I'm really not a brass person. But I couldn't afford to look at other options at that point, so I jsut had to leave it. And you know, I don't notice the brassiness now- it's all just part of my desk (which I still love, btw ).
I would use a scratch kit for the drawer fronts and cut a pad out of cork or felt for the top (you'll want to protect it anyway, from water marks etc, since it's in a kids' room).
If you feel exceedingly lazy / frugal, and the scratches on the drawers aren't TOO serious, take a 64 color box of crayons and figure out what mix will match the stain, then apply to the scratches. I've actually had great luck with regular crayons...
Taking a closer look, there are some signifigant gouges. I'm going to sand and paint. Plus, I found the perfect knobs that I love on sale.
I'm not experienced with any furniture rehab (ooh that would be a good skill!) but I wanted to say, it sounds like a nice wood! If the gouges are deep, You could cover the top with a batik or some other fabric that goes with the room and leave the rest natural!