When I got married almost 6 years ago, this was the dresser I brought with me. It is old, beautiful, and beat up!! Unfortunately I forgot to take the BEFORE picture, and we had already sanded the bottom two drawers when I remembered. But I am sure you have a good imagination.
Here is the majority of what we used (when I say we I mostly mean my husband, I did help though).
First we sanded it to death. It had a thick layer of varnish and stain that was hard to get off. After it was sanded we wiped it down with paint thinner to clean it up real nice.
Then we painted 2 quick coats of white paint that we had lying around (it isn't pictured above). Before using the paint we added a little Flotrol (also not pictured). This helps the paint go on smooth with no brush strokes. After each coat it was lightly sanded with 220 grit sandpaper.
Then we painted 3 coats of the color I picked, Valspar's Flood Tide 5001-6A. We also added Flotrol to this paint. Again it was sanded in between each coat. This made it so smooth! After it was all painted we were going to glaze it like they do here. We started painting it on one side and, YUCK! I don't know why it didn't work, but it looked terrible!! It made everything just look dirty. People would have looked at it and said, "man, do these people every clean their furniture". So instead we used a wood stain.
To get this same look, after the dresser is sanded and distressed the way you like, brush on some of the wood stain. We used Walnut colored stain. Leave it on for just a little while then wipe it off again.
Since we painted with white underneath, when you sand just the color off it shows through beautifully. After we stained the whole dresser and distressed it, we sprayed it with the Clear Wood Finish. This lacquer worked wonderfully. It is very easy to use and doesn't run. We did 3 coats. After the first two it was sanded with 400 grit sandpaper. The third coat was put on really thinly.
For the hardware we spray painted them with a rubbed bronze finish. Before spraying them, they need to be roughly sanded so the paint will stick.
This is the top of the dresser. I love this big spot, it probably won't ever be covered.
Here is the AFTER picture ( I got all the drawers in this picture!).
I am in LOVE with this dresser. It turned out just the way I pictured it.