From old and shabby to a classic piece!
I would like to say I have a vision of what a piece will look like when complete, but that would be less than true. Normally after prepping the piece I look through tons of online designs. My favorite place to look for a fresh design is to search through fabric online. Black and white fabric is a great place to begin.
Almost always the background is sprayed lightly with 3 to 4 coats of satin spray paint (see prep instructions for all steps to prepare furniture to this point). Little by little I begin working on the piece. I usually have a color for a base coat of paint in mind before I ever begin. Next I pick a point of interest and get started. I like to draw my design in chalk directly on the piece of furniture. Another option would be to draw on white paper, then trace onto the piece of furniture. Lay a piece of transfer paper (comes in all colors for any crafts store) under your hand drawn design, use a fairly sharp pen and get busy tracing your drawing on to your piece.
There is no reason to buy any special kind of paint if you already own acrylic paint The only type of acrylic I do not like to use is anything that has a gloss finish. Try to stick with a mat or flat finish paints. Use good brushes, it will make your life a lot easier.
I paint my design right on top of the spray painted finish. It may take more than one coat. It is better to put 3 light smooth coats of paint instead of a heavy layer. When you have the design complete. Lightly spray a clear coat on top of the painted portion to help it dry. Next paint on polyacrylic satin finish. To have a good coat but 2 to 3 coats, if a