I actually stripped and repainted my wooden dressing table yesterday! This is what I did, and it turned out perfect for me: Go outside on a sunny day, you don't want much moisture in the air or rain as it will ruin the wood. Unscrew all handles on the desk drawers and put them in a safe place, you may even want to take apart the desk if you can. Get some heavy duty sandpaper and sand all of the varnish off the wood. You will notice when it is coming off as the wood looses it's shiny appearance and becomes lighter in colour. Once the wood is all sanded, choose the paint you would like to paint it. You may want to use a medium-heavy duty paint for a desk, as it will be scratched and scuffed a lot and you don't want the paint to chip. Dust what's left of wood dust from sanding off the desk, and paint on a thin layer of paint. It doesn't matter if you can see through the paint or it's not very thick, you only want to do thin layers at a time to get an even finish. Wait 30 minutes for it to dry in the sun and do another layer. You will need to do between 2-4 layers of paint, depending on the colour and thickness of the paint. Once all is dry, you may want to spray with a fixative, or paint with a clear coat over the top- it's your choice. Then put the desk back together, attach handles and you are done!!
Painting a Wood Desk
1. Find a good space for painting that will not harm other surfaces. Protect these surfaces from paint and debris by using layers of old newspaper, old rags or cardboard. An outdoor space is ideal. Be cautious about staining cement or grass with your chosen color.
2 Clean the desk thoroughly with a gentle, non-bleach cleanser.
3 Sand the desk with a very fine sandpaper. After sanding, make sure to completely brush away the debris using a dusting rag. Particles that are left over from the sand job will get stuck in the paint.
4 Use a milk-based or high-quality latex paint and a wide, natural bristle paintbrush. Milk paints are recommended for use on wood, but this type is not always available. Well-respected brands of latex paint are also great for painting a desk and come in a wide variety of colors.
5 Complete your paint job by adding a sealant or finish. Polyurethane products work well for giving the desk a clean, finished look. Use matte polyurethane over your paint color to reduce shine. Apply the finish using a polyurethane foam paint brush with average thickness (9/16 inch or thicker).
Painting a Metal Desk
1 Paint a metal desk outdoors or in a large warehouse-style space. Place something on the floor to protect other surfaces, such as old cardboard or scrap wood.
2 Strip any existing finish or paint. This is a difficult step when painting a metal desk. Sanding with fine sandpaper will work, but if you have the resources, use a chemical stripper. Chemical strippers are unpleasant, but they get the job done quickly and efficiently. If you do utilize a stripper, follow up with sandpaper.
3 Purchase spray paint in your preferred colors. Spray paint is by far the cheapest and easiest way to paint a metal desk. If spray paint is unavailable or you choose not to use it, buy strong enamel paint.
4 Warm the metal desk and the area where you will be painting. A heat lamp or hair dryer may be helpful. Paint attaches itself to metal surfaces much more efficiently in a heated environment.
5 Spray the surface with the paint. Before you begin, shake the can for over a minute. Using smooth strokes, pass lightly over the desk. Hold the can a few inches from the surface and keep the can parallel to the desk at all times. In other words, maintain the same distance from the surface. Focus your head so you can see what you are painting--don't put the can directly in front of your face. When you see the surface become wet from the paint's spray, move the can to the next spot. Don't linger on one spot, but make sure the paint has hit the surface before moving on.
6 Repeat the spray paint process for multiple coats. Never paint a metal desk with just one coat.